La la la la la, la la la of gold

Trip Start May 03, 2005
Trip End Oct 31, 2005

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

íHola Chicos!

Thank you to everyone who keeps reminding me that I only have a few weeks left of my travels! Not!

After a 20 hour bus ride from Bariloche I have to say that I was cream crackered inspite of the comfie leather cama seat. Had a mild panic attack when my MP3 player froze midway as I was thinking, what am I going to do for the next 10 hours? Thankfully a trusty cocktail stick did the trick in resetting it without erasing everything. Phew!

After a quick wander around Mendoza (not a spectacularly different city) I managed to fight sleep enough to go on a tour of 2 local bodegas (local wine manufacturers). The first bodega, La Tour, had a museum that reminded me of my late great uncle Frank's farm with really old machinery, cars and tractors. Was extremely disappointed with the wine that we were served but the second place gave us a quick lesson on how to taste wine and know when it's good. Watch out for anyone who is having dinner with me from now on!

I am pleased to say that I have been wearing t-shirts with no need for a jacket for the first time in well over a month, which is quite refreshing. Yippee! Maybe I'm getting a little bit of a summer afterall.

Well, I have to say that I have had a rather busy few days.

On Thursday I went Paragliding with Rolf, a guy from my hostel in Bariloche who I met on the bus on the way up to Mendoza. I'm not sure that I would have done this on my own but am glad that I did inspite of crashing the first time (no I'm not kidding!). I actually wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be until we were all strapped up to the canopy and the wind decided to die down. Meanwhile Rolf was off and away miles into the sky and we were standing going la la la. I started joking saying that God was trying to tell me something etc. etc. Eventually we got a little wind and then had to run off the side of the mountain - Arrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhh! I never thought that I would be so happy to hear a beeping sound in my life (it indicates that we are rising and the faster it sounds the quicker we are rising) and we really didn't hear it very much at all on the first flight. We were quite low and I think the instructor was afraid to risk going over the electrical cables so stuck to the nearside where we could find no warm air currents at all. I knew that all was not well but was optimistic in thinking that we would find warm air eventually. Hah! We had to steer around peak in the mountains and when the instructor utter an expletive amid heavy breathing I knew we were in for it. I said "What do I do with my legs?" (in spanish) and he said "Just throw them in the air". So that's what I did and I landed on my bum with legs in the air in a prickly bush. LOL! I have to say that I was relieved that it was a rather smooth landing. Phew! I asked Tanto (my instructor) how many times he had crashed here and he said it was his first time. I reminded him that it was the 13th of the month and we laughed. I think he was rather embarassed.

You probably think I'm mad but we waited for the 4x4 to come back to get us and we tried again and were more successful, except that we ended up staying in pretty much the same air current for a lot of the flight (I think Tanto was paranoid at this stage) and after a few acrobatics that had my stomach churning we came in for a running landing. Well, I tell a lie there as I actually hit the ground on my feet and plonked down on my butt. Very elegant indeed - NOT! I think I prefered the first landing.

Fate had it that I had to move hostel on Friday morning and, having bumped into Annie (who I'd met in Calafate) who was staying in the most amazing hostel with a swimming pool I decided to head there. I then headed to San Martin Park (San Martin is a hero in South America as he was instrumental in liberating Peru, Chile and Argentina from Spanish rule). It was a pretty huge park and very regal - I was looking for the palace but didn't come across one. Would be the ideal place to chill out on a sunday afternoon. That night we had a barbecue in the hostel along with a few drinks with some people we met there. I was rather impressed with the effort that they made for the veggies.

On saturday I went rafting about an hour outside Mendoza. I had a great time - the water was level 3-4 and it was really good fun, even if the water was a little cold. I ended up in a boat with 5 girls from the US who were all studying in Buenos Aires and were all a little worried that we may not understand a command as the instructor didn't speak any english. Apart from getting wedged between two rocks and the guide pushing the girl who was most frightened into the water (oops!), everything went smoothly.

I've just been to San Martin park again today and I'm heading up to Salta this evening. Only a 16 hour bus journey this time. Can't wait - NOT! Less than 2 weeks to go now (please stop reminding me) so am going to try to cram in the salt plains in Bolivia and the Atacama Desert before I head to Santiago to fly back. Boo! Hoo! I would love to go back for a week or two to say hello and then come back again. Although in saying that, my rucksack and gear is really becoming burdensome. I'm definately not going to miss having to pack up my gear every few days and squeeze it into my bulging rucksack A small cart would do the trick right now.

Keep the emails up lovies. Looking forward to seeing you all (well, many of you) soon!
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