So I’ve had a glass of red wine!
That kind of explains why I missed out a large portion of my initial time in Mendoza!
For starters I forgot to mention the park – San Martin Park, to be precise. It’s beautiful, full of lush green grass, thousands of trees, and every evening it’s full of people! I’m not talking about random Hampstead Heath type people (no offence) I’m talking about families, hundreds of families descend on the park in the cool evening with picnics, music and that special atmosphere you get when you get together at heist as time. To see the park full of people enjoying each others company, young and old talking, laughing and smiling with each other is wonderful. I’m not trying to pretend that this was some type of utopia, I’m sure like most places – the park can be a little unsavoury during the evening, but for on e it wasn’t the dark side that was the focus!
After sharing a picnic with some new friends and their families… And being given 101 questions from the two inquisitive siblings who thought every breath I took deserved a question, we walked around the park. The park is massive! We only managed to go around one of the smaller trails but that still took an hour! One of the most impressive things about the park is that it’s completely man-made! After-all Mendoza is a Desert (or was)!
To witness such incredible ecological engineering to create what many would call a true oasis, is quite remarkable!
Anyway if you want to know more look it up! (One more fact though- in Mendoza it is against the law to cut down a tree! Even pruning requires special permission)
Enough tree-news. Back to my first couple of days in Mendoza (before the wines)!
I met my homestay family and immediately I felt at home. With a family of four children, Marcelo and Pamela are no stranger to people coming and going from their home and create a really relaxed and homely environment for everyone.
After I’d put my bags down we sat around he table for lunch and talked about life, work and the beautiful city. Once they’d finished laughing at a couple episodes of Dekan Does, I retreated to my room in the annex, to freshen up!
Once fresh I decided to meet up with a couch surfer one of my friends had introduced me to – Gisel. We met and Geoff I knew what had hit me I was being taken to another friends house for a pool party and mates! Is this place incredible or what?!?
I’m scratching my head trying to figure out head trying to remember another time when such trust and hospitality was shown so freely…
From party to park and back home… Not only had I made even more friends, but one of them had planned to take me to Potrerillos the next day!
White water, brown water
The next day I met some more friends, Alita & Natly at Mendoza bus station for our trip to Potrerillos! I hadn’t exactly realised but at the park I’d mentioned I’d like to go white water rafting and Alita kindly agreed to escort me to the extreme sports town of Potrerillos!
After an hour and a bit on the bus – we took the normal local bus, not the tourist tour bus, (only cost 24 Pesos return) we arrived at the small town. The bus stopped outside some shacks, all of which contained adverts for various outdoor activities from horse-riding, to hiking, sky-diving and paragliding! I found the company that had been recommended to me Potrerillos Explorers and set off to their base camp.
Once there I signed the paperwork, after a quick read (as you do) and put on my wet suit!
The group of 20 was split into Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers and soon we were on our way to the start point. There we had a full safety briefing, which was done with surprising flair and wit! Confident that we were going to get wet we stepped into the raft! But wait!!!!. What’s this? This isn’t white water, this is brown water! The water collects all the mud and dirt along the way, so at bough it doesn’t look amazing, it is clean, and very very very fast!
(Pix coming soon)
Up, down, left, right! The rapids were crazy, I almost fell in twice! If it wasn’t for me using all my strength to wedge my foot into the boat, I’d have gone in! But whether I fell in or not, it really didn’t matter – sitting at the front of the raft guaranteed that I would get drenched – probably more than if I fell in!
After an hour or so on the water, sharing laughs and the great feeling if having successfully navigated the course without one person in our raft falling in, we all decided to jump in away and be carried downstream for the last 100m! Great day out!!!
The next day, I’d planned to visit some more sights, including Puerto del Inca and Acongaua, but alas my plans were thwarted as rain meant buses weren’t able to travel into the mountainous terrain… Never mind – something for me to do on my return!
The next few days on Mendoza were spent getting to know the area – really well! Gisel took me out some more, but mainly I spent the next couple of days exploring the city by myself…. That was until my former work colleague arrived in town for a short stay and I instantly became their tour guide – kinda! Lol 🙂
One of the days we tried to visit a wk winery, but as is the way with life, things didn’t quite work out. I mean I got to the winery ok…. (Pulmary Wines) I Started the tasting with the owner… But my friends never made it, as they were busy tracking down a lost suitcase! By the time they’d recovered their belongings, I was six (maybe eight) glasses in to my 30 Peso tasting session! Because I’d arrived late, I was the only one on the tour, so the owner, Ramiro was great at taking time to explain the whole process to me.
I ended my tour with a glass of their port – which as I’m no port drinker tasters superb! I decided it was wise for me to hang around at the winery as they had a restaurant there and I could eat. I texted my friends and they were more than happy to hop on a local bus and join me in the town of Chacras de Chiro.
While I waited outside in the beautiful gardens of the winery, still sipping my large taster glass of port, just relaxing, I felt a little drop of water in my shoulder!
I looked up and before I could say, I thought it never rained in Mendoza, the heavens literally opened above me!
The chef for the restaurant hurried outside, picking up chairs, and I jumped to my feet to help him. This wasn’t a little shower, this was a full on storm! Ducking into the kitchen for a moment to dry off… I realised that I should tell my friend not to come and that I’d meet them back in dryness of Mendoza city.
After getting soaked by the rain and passing cars as I eventually braved the rain to wait at the bus stop – I hopped on the first bus going home!
And as if by magics by the time I got to Mendoza city, the roads and pavements were almost desert dry! I on the other hand was not!
Showered, dry, and clean I met my friends for dinner and another lovely bottle of red!