Yesterday we crossed the Andes, very exciting and equally scary with s-turns, switch backs, tunnels to prevent avalanche problems, NO guard rails, speeds in excess of 100 kil an hour (55mph in the ANDES) at 13,000 feet where you can’t breath in a moving bus AND you are too frightened looking down 3000 feet at fragments of smashed vehicles, a blue fender from a Chevy, the red hood of a major pickup truck.
The same bad B movies were playing, a sci-fi and “Meet the Millers” (I thought I recognized poor Jennifer Aniston…) I took a lot of views from the bus, Julia was sick even with a motion sickness patch behind her ear, Rachael chilled and Tom wished he could play Words With Friends. Dinner at a great place, steak and wine, at a table on the sidewalk called La Palenque.
In Mendoza our apt hotel is nice, with a pool. This morning we explored the city, changed money, bought airlines tickets to BA (it’s a 17 hour drive) and signed up for bicycling through vineyards. The first was definitely most impressive. All sort of people gave us all sorts of addresses for Change Places. One man said it was better to ask a man on the street who would “lead” us to an office. So when I spotted two nice looking, well-dressed, middle-aged businessmen on the sidewalk downtown I asked them. One said, “follow me.” Tom and I followed him, leaving the girls in an enclosed alley with shops. The man buzzed us into an office marked “technical engineering,” then another office, both were all gray and hi tec looking, then a second middle aged man took us in hand, demanding of us ‘how we knew this place?’ “Were we friends of Jorge’s?” I answered, “Of course, we’re friends of Jorge’s.” I almost added that I was his sister-in-law but I am never sure whether I am saying sister-in-law or mother-in-law and I don’t look that old. Doors clanked shut behind us, bolted, and we were ushered down a narrow spiral staircase into another locked office where there is a younger man behind a bullet proof glass window who cheerfully changed our money and gave us a better rate than the other man had quoted us.
Meanwhile Julia had a harrowing story of her won where a nice janitor lady keypadded her into a ladies room in the same complex. The poor janitor was yelled at by the “suits” who then had to unlock two doors for Julia to get out of the bathroom that had another keypad on the INSIDE of the bathroom door. It was as Julia reported a Mission Impossible Control Room bathroom. These people have got to be Argentinian Mafia. It was an experience!
The Airlines tickets was a piece of cake. At the bicycle tour of the vineyards place I asked the tour guide, a 40 year old Frenchman if it was safe to cycle on the roads here. He said, “This is Argentina, of course not.” But he assured me that the Brits and Aussies have more trouble because after a few glasses of wine he has a devil of a time keeping them on the right side of the road. And, he also mentioned that there is a support vehicle for those too drunk to cycle. For all those of you who know how I handle my wine, this is a seriously good thing!
Tonight is a big dinner night at Anna Bistro. Tomorrow we cycle, we drink and then we fly….Julia says, “we ar one happening family.”