The bus speeds down the highway leaving the dirt roads, rain, and chill of Ruta 40 and Patagonia behind. The driver is running behind schedule as he is slowed down by cyclists in the midst of a long distance road race. Growing increasingly frustrated, he continuously swerves around them by the slightest of margins so he can still yell obscenities at the riders. Alternatively, he might take control of the opposing lane, daring oncoming traffic not to take cover on the gravel shoulder. They flash him the bird in digust. He cares not. He´s on a 19hr mission to Mendoza and we´re just along for the ride.
Whether it be from back home, other travellers, or South Americans, more than a few people have commented what a great city Mendoza is. After 4 days here, it´s hard to argue. This place will cure any funk you might be in.
It didn´t start out so great however. Inexplicably, we followed some old kook to his house which was miles away from the city centre. That was the least of our problems though. This guy, whom we dubbed Old Man River, wouldn´t leave us alone. For what seemed like an eternity, he explained every little detail about the place including the ever difficult...how to turn on the gas stove and how to lock the door...I shit you not. Speaking of shit, he also taught me the secrets to cleaning up dog shit. We made an extra effort to spend that whole day out, return late at night, and leave before he woke up the next morning. Andrew made an early run for it...but was caught...only escaping by making an excuse he was in a rush to go to the beach (note: there is no beach within 10 hours of Mendoza). Pete and I weren´t so lucky. I could try to describe it in words but I think a picture would more accurately describe the moment. I´ll never hear an accordion again without shivering.
But ever since we hightailed it out of there, everything´s been pretty sweet. The food, namely the asado (bbq) is wild. This is an all you can eat buffet, rocking out at midnight on a Wednesday night. No really, the place was more alive than a lot of clubs and pubs back home.
And the Mendozan women...simply, wow. I have never seen seen so many gorgeous girls or taken so many cold showers in a single day than I have here. Out of this world. Here´s a sampling of our dates the other night.
We also decided to attend a tango class/social club, held in the basement of a bank/medical clinic. I think I am the first person to ever attempt the tango wearing hiking boots. The teacher and poor girls I danced with were really sweet but I think they were relieved to know I was leaving town before the next class.
Here´s my barber. Among the topics of discussion (with his wife by his side) were...the number of Canadian tourist paragliders that have died in Mendoza (2), his rastafarian son who is a rafting guide and throws wild jacuzzi parties (sadly, he is currently out of town), and his apologies for running out of dope so he couldn´t give me any. Four canadian dollars well spent.
Also rented bikes one day and rode around the massive park at the edge of town. I´ve always wondered how many kids you can fit onto a slide. Apparently a lot.
Later on my tire got a flat and I needed a new tube. After asking a around, I was led to the garage of a house where a 9 year old fixed my bike like a professional. Then he gave me his business card/calendar as a souvenir.
It´s a good thing my bike was working again because we stumbled upon a dirt bike course. It wasn´t even technically open but the guys running it let us ride around for free for a couple of hours. Andrew stacked it once and we both realized quickly why most bikers don´t wear flipflops.
Mendoza´s probably the first place in South America where I think I could actually live. The people are ridiculously chill and friendly for a city its size. The highest peak in South America (Acongagua) is only a couple hours away. Chile is also next door. Snowboarding is huge in the winters. If I actually appeciated wine, this is the mecca. And did I mention how stunning the girls are here? I am so sold.
Couple other random photos from the last week and a bit. Kayaking down the river and drinking maté (a strong Argentinian tea) in the park with Pedro, a local kid who likes to throw rocks at cars.