Mad bus journeys, wineries and more robberies

Trip Start Jan 04, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, February 9, 2013

Getting out of Chile was an adventure on its own. No tickets from Valparaiso for three days. Santiago- here we come again! Even from here no tickets to Mendoza, for perhaps five to six days. Finally we manage to find out the reason for it- the border-point on top of the Andes is closed due to rain and possible landslides. As we needed to be in Mendoza a certain day to meet some friends, also as Santiago was really the last place we wanted to spend more time in, we decided to take the round-about way out, through another border-crossing further South in Chile. So it happened that what was supposed to be a straight-forward eight hour journey ended up being a 30 hour rocking on a mini-van. Almost half of that time we spent waiting in the long queue doing the border formalities.
When we arrived in Mendoza we were tired, dirty, ravenous (shockingly there were really no food-stops on the way!) and feeling like we had been to a journey to the end of the world.
Anyway we were in Mendoza!
Mendoza is a really pleasant town further up towards the North of Argentina. It has become a tourist attraction mainly for being the main wine producing region and wineries around organize many day-trips. Ania also had a friend living here who was hospitable to let us stay in his house.
We decided to do a full day cycling tour of the vineyards. All three bodegas we visited showed us the wine-producing methods and offered us around three tastings of different wines. It was nice cause all wineries were different from each other, from a tiny family owned bodega Clos de Chakras to a huge more commercial style one called Altavista. As for cycling- it wasn't easy at all to go over rough terrains under blazing heat, but it was the views of the distant snow-capped Cordilleras, the juiciest grapes we could sample and the beautiful flavours of the Torrontes and of course the most famous wine of Argentina- Malbec- that made the day.
The rest of the stay we spent resting, eating well, socializing even better.. :)
When it came for leaving though then it seemed that Mendoza was not eager to let go of us. We had tickets for Salta at noon, but while we waited for the trolley to the bus-station we had another incident with people desiring my belongings. It was quite scary, but the main thing was that we were incredibly lucky, by-standers chased the young muggers down, police arrived seconds after. I got all of my stuff back, which was something that reportedly never happens. Even though we had to spend the whole day in the police station dealing with bureaucracy, we were moved by the kindness of all the strangers and our faith in the police was restored. We felt like we were in a movie and it was certainly an interesting experience we are unlikely to ever forget. They even changed our lost bus-tickets for the evening and we were free once more to move on. Shaken but not stirred... :)
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