Leaving Cafayete we set off for Cordoba, which can only be described as the most boring and hottest town in Argentina; so boring in fact that we went to see the new James Bond movie to kill time. For those Daniel Craig fans reading this blog – bad news: he is getting old. From Cordoba, we travelled on to La Cumbre where we rented the world's crappiest bikes (the breaks were constantly on but when we needed them they didn’t really work) and spent our time biking from bakery to bakery to make up the lost calories. Daryn also indulged in a 'meat platter for 1’ which would more accurately be described as a ‘meat platter for 1 plus 6 stray dogs’. Being 1) an animal lover and 2) renowned for making poor decisions, I took some leftover scraps with me so I could feed some stray dogs along the way back to the campsite – for those of you who didn’t immediately identify this as a bad idea, I can confirm that dogs do not understand the concept of goodwill or sharing.
Barely escaping the dogs with all my fingers, we set off to Mendoza – wine country. Given our love for outdoor activities and wine, we set off on bikes to do a self-guided tour of the local vineyards. After an initial confusing first stop at a brewery for beer and empanadas (to cleanse the palate), we enjoyed two different degustation wine menus which got us a tad (tad = very) drunk. Considering ourselves wine-buffs having visited 2 wineries, we decided we may have a future in describing the taste of wines and then selling our descriptions to the wineries for a nice profit – I think Daryn has a particular skill in this area after he declared one particularly bad cabernet-sauvignon as having ‘hints of violence’ – seriously, it tasted like cooking wine with scotch in it. Aside from a few shockers, the wine was absolutely beautiful; but after that much wine, pretty much everything is beautiful. Daryn gave his official verdict that ‘biking and drinking wine is fun’, God help us when we get to New Zealand.
Moving on from Mendoza, we crossed over the Andes back into Chile. Due tn avalanche on the road, we were delayed by a few hours so ended up at a very posh ski resort where the 26 of us – looking our usual dishevelled selves – set upon the restaurant and lowered the tone drastically. The restaurant looks out over a lake where apparently Jacques Cousteau died, I only mention this because he was my childhood hero; I don’t know where my plans for becoming a famous marine biologist and taming Jaws went awry… I blame my poor upbringing as a child – haha, just joking mom and dad!
Arriving in Santiago, we left the overland truck which we have been traveling with for the past 3 months with a mix of relief and sadness; though we will not miss bushcamping in extreme hot or cold, 14 hour days on the truck, handgel v handwash debates, stale bread (the only kind we are capable of buying) or both egg and tuna salad sandwiches, we will miss the LAD (late arrival drinking) Society (which convened on the truck pretty much every day near the end of our trip due to the appalling sense of direction of our driver and tour leader - arriving at 5pm invariably meant we would get there for 8pm), as well as complaining about bushcamping in extreme hot or cold, long truck days, handgel v handwash debates, stale bread and sandwich fillings with our friends. It has been an amazing 3 months…
We really enjoyed our time in Santiago, it is an awesome city with a very European feel (and European prices); we spent our time swimming, walking through the parks, enjoying the local (German) beer, indulging in the delicacy of fried random assortment of meat with eggs on top of chips, doing a city tour and accomplishing the nearly impossible task of finding a new bikini with bottoms that consisted of more than a few strings of material.
Next stop – Pucon.