Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
50Trip End Dec 16, 2008
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With seven universities and 25,000 students there is a young energy - good music and a lively restaurant and bar scene, as well as a strong artistic community. But the city really didn't grab me so I only spent the day and booked a bus that night to Mendoza so I could get back to the mountains.
I continue to try to learn Spanish - that evening, I was showing my purchases off to a local woman.
"How do you say 'Artist' in Spanish" I asked her.
"I don't understand that word." She said.
"Oh. We call them Hippies"
Got it... thanks.
Next up: Mendoza - the heart of Argentina's wine country and back to the Andes.
Argentines are addicted to a drink called matte. It is an herbal tea that grows in the north-eastern part of the country, and the ritual of drinking matte is complex. They start with a gourd like the ones above, and fill it about 3/4 of the way with the dried herbs (it looks like tea). Next, they put a silver straw with a filter at the end into the herb and add hot water out of a thermos. Sipping on the straw to get a strong, bitter tea-like drink. Add a little more hot water to top it off and pass the gourd to your amigo.
Matte must be addictive because everywhere, Argentines lugging around their thermos, a big bag of the herb, and their gourds. I wanted the experience - so I cast off some unnecessary things in my backpack and am lugging around a thermos, bag of herb, and a gourd like everyone else. The jury is out... it's definitely a stimulant, but it's a lot of effort!