1000km west of the capital is the main wine growing region of Argentina, nestled at the foot of the Andes, Mendoza. I arrived around lunch time, hopped in a cheap taxi and traveled the 10 minute trip to Hostel Empedrado, I haven't written too much about the hostels themselves over the pas few weeks as most are pretty standard, 4 to 8 beds in a room , near a bathroom and a generally noisy reception room. But this place, although pretty rough and well worn, has some really special little features, a central courtyard with small pool covered in vines full of juicy plump red grapes, free to take as you wish. And a couple of hammocks make it ther perfect place to hang out and meet people. So first day here, myself, Anne (A German Neurologist) along with two 18 year old Canadians, Mackenzie and Geoff when for a walk around the city, visited a huge poncho (hot-dog) chain for lunch and walked to the park full of rowers, runners, a closed zoo and states of fighting boars and a deer being attacked by cougars.
That evening the hostel put on a 'pizza party' for Ar$20 (€4) for all you can eat, delicious home made pizza, on their roof terrace. So a group of 20 or so travelers from all over the world, sat and drank cheap beer & wine, had free cocktails and a great evening chatting to a wide selection of people, my highlight being the two Canadian 18 year olds, sweet talking a San Francisco lady in her 60's; who obviously had far more stories than anybody else. I also got a free couch to sleep on should I make it up the west coast of the US in the coming months.
On the nest day, on a Thursday morning I leave at 9am for a white water rafting trip. I wasn't going with anybody from my hostel but met some great people on the way there, Adam, an Australian and a guy from Israel who told us about a guy in his hostel who had lost a friend mountaineering on the 7000m mountain. My raft, however was filled with me, 3 girls from London and a biogas company owner from Berlin who lived in South Africa. Our 23km down water trip, was amazing fun, really cold and of course we had the bonding experience of our guide being thrown out of the boat, 20 minutes into the trip and the 5 of us getting caught in a vicious swirling pool. About 30 seconds into a slightly terrifying, leaderless, almost drowning state not moving from our position, two of us, me included get tipped under water and start bouncing our way down the rapids. I manage to scramble out about 100 meters downstream, slightly shaking and really cold, and the other girl got washed about 300 meters, whilst the remaining three in the boat got pulled to shore by rope. The rest of the trip we were a bit more prepared for what the water could throw at us and all made it safely back to some drinks in the sun and a bus back to Mendoza.
That night, a group of us, two Irish people, Barry and Karen, a guy from Chicago, Chris, two Germans, Claudia and Anne, A couple from Scotland and Yorkshire and the Kiwi who works in the hostel went out to the luxurious Hyatt hotel fro some great wine and fantastic tapas, followed by my first Guinness in Argentina in a street-side bar. How can a bottle of Guinness, made in Dublin, travel, 12000km and still end up being cheaper than a Guinness back in Dublin. And from that note, it's onto a day of vineyard visiting on a Friday. The next blog may be a rambling drunken mess....
|the tigre delta - a cowboy with his horse and his pet chickens|