Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hostel Ruca-Pota

Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Friday, December 26, 2008

No one said traveling was easy and it's definitely not always fun.  We came to realize this is Mendoza.  To not completely sound like we are complaining I'll make it short.
Good and bad things about our time in Mendoza:
-  We got started off on the wrong foot when we were delayed leaving because of three ladies that were late and who had a ton of luggage to load up.  But, the drive was fantastic - very scenic and beautiful.  I realize I should take some Xanax or something before driving through the mountains in a bus.  The sharp turns with no guard rails, being only inches from going off a cliff and not having a seat belt have gotten to me.  I keep thinking, if the bus goes over this cliff, exactly how many people would crush me?  Plus the story of Liz and Erin almost going over a cliff didn't help.  Yikes. 
Long story short - it took a few hours to get thought the boarder crossing because of the same ladies that had made us late - all their luggage was not only over the weight amount allowed for each individual but was illegal because they didn't have the proper paper work for the contents.  One of them even came on the bus and asked every person for money because they didn't have enough to pay the taxes.  So what was supposed to take 6 hours from Santiago to Mendoza took about 9.  
- When we finally arrived we went to what we thought would be a great hostel called Ruca-Pota.  The place seemed okay but the guy that ran it was a little creepy I thought, and I soon remembered how important it is to trust your gut instinct (ladies especially)!  But the place wasn't too bad, they had free all-you-can-drink local Malbec wine, a kitchen we could use and a small pool outside.  One evening while I was out and about I saw a girl from the hostel.  She immediately told me some bad news...some guys in the room she was staying in (a dorm room with 12 people in it) had found a video camera in their shower!  They all shared a bathroom and only one person showered at a time.  I'm told that the owner had a camera hidden in a plastic plant that was in the shower.  They had been noticing he would go in and out of that bathroom a lot and came to find out he was probably checking on the camera.  The guys that found it were turning it around when they showered and told everyone else in the room to do the same.  The owner probably realized a lot of people noticed it and took it out that day.  As soon as we got back Brian and I checked every inch of our room and bathroom - luckily we found nothing.  The girl and I got almost everyone in the hostel to join together and confront him.  So, at midnight we knocked on his door and he came out to a group of 15 people asking for answers.  Of course he completely denied it.  Then we told him we had a picture of his camera and we all said we were leaving and he agreed to give us our money back.   
-  One day we went to this huge park called Parque General San Martin and hiked all around.  I was exhausted.  Afterwards we went back to the plaza and ate.  We sat outside and after about 5 minutes I heard a little thud and felt a warm sensation in my hair, on my arm and on my leg.  Yep, I got pooped on.  It was sooooo gross and crazy considering we were sitting mostly under an umbrella!  Talk about wrong place at the wrong time.  That has ever happened to me before.  Brian sat there in shock, finally getting my TP from my bag to wipe me down.  I went to the bathroom and cleaned up the best I could.  Ewww.
We had ordered a Caesar salad.  When it came it had no dressing on it so after several failed attempts to try and explain that a Caesar salad has Caesar dressing on it to our waiter, we ate it with no dressing (he did however bring us hot sauce for it - what?). 
- After our late lunch we took the really long way back to the hostel trying to find the historic plaza/district.  We didn't find it because a recent earthquake had demolished a majority of it but it was a nice walk around town anyway.  On the way I was trying to take a picture of Brian and an old man approached us and offered to take it for us.  Sure, why not.  So we got together and smiled, as he held the camera up we noticed his hands shaking like crazy and that he couldn't take the photo because he couldn't reach the button.  I felt grateful that he wanted to take a photo of us but after 20 seconds of pretending to smile, talking to each other through our smiles about how long we should wait until he would drop our nice camera on the cement was enough.  I came forward and nicely put the wrist strap around his hand - he didn't care.  A few minutes later - we had our picture!  He was so interested in us that he stood and talked to us for about 10 minutes - he was such a sweet guy.  But the entire time he was talking to us in really fast Spanish and Brian and I stood there smiling and pretending like we knew what he was saying.  Not sure how we got out of that one. 
So we kept walking again along this nice tree lined street back to the hostel when a familiar feeling came over me...a warm sensation in my hair, shirt and on my arm.  MORE POOP!!!!!!!!  This time it was mostly in my hair, of course, and it the same exact spot and also all over my shirt on my shoulder.  WOW, for never being pooped on before, Mendoza sure got me good.  We couldn't stop laughing and didn't think to snap a photo but trust me, you probably didn't want to see that.  When we got back and I saw the owner of our hostel outside I couldn't help but think that even after being pooped on twice in the same day, my shirt was still probably cleaner than his.                               
- The last day in Mendoza we decided to do the much hyped up wine tour.  You take a bus out to the country and rent bikes and ride around to different wineries.  It was okay, but really hot that day and the wineries were much further apart that we thought.  But we got a good workout.  We made it to two places, the first was a winery where we tasted some wine and had lunch and the second was an olive oil "farm".   We found out that a girl who had been staying at our hostel did the tour about a week before us.  She had a little too much wine and had fallen off her bike, only to get run over by a big truck.  Luckily, she survived having had her arm amputated among other injuries - talk about lucky to be alive.  We heard this before we went, so you can imagine how scared I was riding on these little two lane roads with huge trucks and everything.  I hope they put in a bike path sometime soon.  It might be a good idea.
- One good thing about Mendoza was the people we met.  One person was a guy from Canada.  He is 79 years old and just out to travel.  He was so nice and very very very talkative.  I found out he used to be a millionaire and used to breed horses.  When he was a young man he arrived to Canada from Greece.  He didn't understand the citizenship papers he was filling out and put Diamantis as his first name then again as his last name.  So, his legal name is Diamantis Diamantis.  Awesome!  He was also staying in the dorm room and was probably filmed.
- One more good thing...there was a McDonald's here.  If you know Brian and I, you know we are 100% Culver's people (you've probably heard of the Scoopy Club?) but we couldn't pass it up.  By the way, their fruit parfaits here are awesome compared to the ones back home!  Only problem is that it took about 10 minutes to try to communicate to the girl want we wanted.  They just don't understand BIG MAC POR FAVOR!
By the end of the 4th day we were so happy to leave.  We boarded our bus and were off. 
The bus ride was pretty sweet though.  They gave us a great meal - fruit, egg thing, bread, etc.  We were just finishing when the steward came around with a whole other dinner - this time it was rice and chicken!  After a few minutes, he AGAIN came around, this time was the best...he had wine.  He was also sweating by that time so I think he probably deserves every nickle he makes.  That night my feet swelled up like footballs.  Thanks Mendoza!  Adios!!! 
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