Friday was a big day for us. On Thursday we booked our flight to the capital for 10pm in order to join a bicycle tour of local vineyards. The company picked us up at our hotel where we had stashed
our bags and drove us into the country. Our bikes were clunky, servicable and stable for riding on dirt, rocks, pavement, a few of the major roads had bike lanes protected by ten inch concrete barriers. The narrow country roads were more of a challenge with buses whizzing by, road crews doing major repairs and huge dump trucks lumbering past filled with grapes but we managed. I had a couple of places where our leader, an amusing Belgian named Luc, provided me with a push up a long hill.
The weather was perfect, sunny with a breeze. The three vineyards were small, boutique wineries with amazing Malbec, Syrah, Sauvignon. Of course, I sipped, but the roads and the bikes being what they were, I did not guzzle. It was so tempting but riding drunk on these roads would have been suicide. We were also tempted to buy bottles but this would have led to many problems. So I contented myself with photographing labels and hoping to find them in the States. Almost everything except the reserves is exported.
This time we learned again how to drink properly with a heavy emphasis on swirling the wine in the glass to aerate it and holding the glass by that thin stem, the French way. It doees make a difference. After a visit to the gardens of a artisan beer maker, we lunched on the balcony of the last winery with views of the Andes. The other couple from Seattle were the only other people on the tour, the young man couldn’t eat wheat either so the two of us had Italian style chicken and French fries. Then on to an olive grove that processes oil and served us fancy liquors.
We arrived back in the city eight hours later, hot and happy, caught our plane to BA, and found our new apt. But at midnight things went a little pear shaped. At the apartment Tom had rented on line one answered our rings, the street was dark with some rowdy students. Rachael and Julia slumped against the wall with the bags and we waited. Tom had told our landlord 12:30. Four French ladies appeared and refused to allow us into the lighted vestibule. A couple of students obliged and the girls and I took the bags inside. The door clanked shut and Tom was still on the street, no way to open the door. Front doors in this city need a key for either side (not too safe in an earthquake prone country.)
Our landlord, Maurice, did appear and we were in, but the student parties continued into the early morning. Otherwise our apt is nice with a full kitchen, two tvs, a long balcony, dining and living space that become two pull out beds. Tom and I have a bedroom. Not as much maintenance needed as in the apt before and a lot cheaper.