Touching the top of Aconcagua - 22,841 feet

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 16, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mendoza is at the base of the highest mountains in the Americas, the highest  is Aconcagua - which, at 22,841 feet, is the tallest peak outside the Himalayas.

Originally I considered climbing Aconcagua, but it takes 12 to 15 days to summit.  I didn't want to spend that much time so I took a bus to a good observation point on the Chilean border where I could "touch the top".


The scenery was spectacular - we stopped at a cool ancient bridge, a thermal hot springs they call the Inca bridge where volcanic water bubbles up and left crazy orange and green mineral deposits over the centuries.

Along the way, I saw a Brazilian tour bus stopped beside a tiny patch of snow.  It was hilarious to see grown adults who obviously had never seen snow before throwing snow balls, sliding down, and taking tons of photos on a little patch of white.  

The Dutch Guy
In Mendoza, another American backpacker told me he met a Dutch Guy in the park with no shoes and in a panic.  Apparently the Dutch Guy was walking from the bus station and two guys jumped him with knives.  They took everything - money, passport, backpack, even his shoes! 

The police wouldn't help and he needs $70 to get to the Dutch embassy in Buenos Aires.  He had to sleep in the park last night. 

The American backpacker gave the Dutch Guy $5 to help out and wished him good luck.

A few days later I was in Bariloche (21 hours south of Mendoza) talking to a Canadian backpacker named Christian.  "You know, I've been traveling almost 2 years now and have never had anything stolen, or been riped off."

"You've never paid Gringo price?" I asked.

"Well - I don't count getting over-charged or short-changed - that happens.  But I haven't been scammed, robbed, or had anything swiped." Christian proudly proclaimed.

"I can't say the same."  I said.  "I was pickpocket in New Orleans and mugged in Nairobi (AKA Nai-robbery).  Neither time I hardly lost anything."

"What's the worst story you've ever heard?" Christian asked.

"Well" I started "just a couple days ago I was in Mendoza and heard about a Dutch Guy in the park who..."

"NO!!!!"  Christian interrupted  "when was that???"

Puzzled by his reaction, I said "two days ago - a Dutch Guy got everything stolen, even his shoes.  Another American guy told me he gave him some money."

"I gave that bastard $20 two weeks ago.  Same story - he's conning backpackers!" 

"So you have been swindled"  I smirked.

"I'm going back to Mendoza to kick his ass."

The next day I ran into Christian again... he was shaking his head "Fucking Dutch guy."
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