Merry Christmas Mendoza

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Where I stayed
winca's hostel

Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, December 25, 2005

So I arrived in Mendoza without any problems and straight to Winca´s hostel that someone had recommended to me. At first I was a bit dubious. It appeared to be really quiet with some cliches around, how wrong I was.

Mendoza itself is really just like any other city, interesting enough, with shops, cafés, parks, and people. What it lacked though was any realy oooomph. I´m really starting to dislike visiting cities as I end up just getting a bit bored with the same old stuff again and again. Once you´ve looked at several old buildings, you´ve seen them all.

I´m off to Patagonia next so as soon as I arrived I bought a ticket that headed for Bariloche on the 2nd of January. One and a half weeks in advance but I still had to go on a slightly longer route as the direct buses were all sold out. It´s the middle of the Argentinian summer holidays and apparently Patagonia is really popular place to visit during this time.

The bus station was really dodgy where you had to keep a close eye on your possesions. On my way out after buying my ticket I found a game of ´find the queen´, usually played with cards but this time with three plastic discs. I stood and watched with my right hand on my wallet and left on my camera. There were loads of people gathered round watching and betting huge sums of money. I couldn´t believe how gullable some people were. Occationally the artiste would ask me where the queen was, I´d just reply that I didn´t know rather than getting sucked in. After a little while of watching I heard some loud whistles around, a warning that the police must have been around. Suddenly most of the audiance disappeared, melting into the surrounding people. It turned out that rather than the artiste and a couple of stooges almost all of the audiance were stooges, it appears to be an industry with a large wage bill!

It´s tradition in Argentina to have your christmas dinner on the 24th. Everyone put in 20 pesos (4 UK pounds, 7 US Dollars each) and someone went shopping with it. 20 pesos per head buys a lot. Three large turkeys, heaps of veg and much christmas cheer. Everyone chipped in a bit of help as it´s not easy feeding 36 people, I´m proud to say that I spent 3 hours peeling potatoes and breaking bread for the stuffing. If I see another loaf of bread or potatoe, well I´ll..... We all had a great time, eating outside under the stars at 10pm, having a laugh, and almost lasting through the night till dawn. I had a great time. At one point I was the DJ using someone´s iPod, I thought I was doing a good job until I put on The Leveller´s ´What A Beautiful Day´, I was practically boo´ed from the iPod, well I never.

Christmas day was a much quieter affair. It basically consisted of most folk lounging by the pool, drinking famous Mendoza wine, eating nibbles, going in for the occational dip and just quietly passing the day. It´s quite weird spending Christmas day in the sun like this, but it´s something that I could get used to. Especially hearing how the winter weather went this year in the UK.

I didn´t plan to head anywhere on Boxing day, and despite another lazy day just enjoying the festivities I really felt I should have moved on. I feel like I really wasted a day, so on the 27th I got up early and headed out to the west, a couple of days walking in the Andes, return to Mendoza for the new year and then off to Bariloche.

The only issue with this is that I´m now having doubts about heading to Patagonia, firstly it´ll be mobbed, expensive, hard to get transport and accomodation. In fact it could really be a nightmare. Secondly, I really love Argentina but it´s also nice, clean and predictable. I´m getting itchy feet for a little bit of adventure again and I know that I´ll get that up North in Boliva and friends. I have a few days to make the decision, no need to rush it now.
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