This weekend I tried to pack all of Argentina into two days, which obviously was not enough time—but we did do a lot in 48 hours. I went with 5 friends to Mendoza, which is about 7 hours by bus from Viña, over the Andes. It’s different from Valparaíso in that it’s very flat, in a desert, bigger and more cosmopolitan. I liked it a lot because there were big trees lining every street, beautiful plazas and lots of people out all the time.
The Mendoza region is known for its wine, so one thing we did was take a bus (probably the hardest part of the trip was figuring out how to catch this bus) to Maipu, a town surrounded by vineyards. We went to a bodega/museum and had a short tour of the vineyard and museum, then got to taste a wine they make there—amazingly this was all free; Argentina in general was really cheap!
Another typically Argentinean thing we did was see some tango at a dinner and performance place. It was really intense! Also there was singing and at the end the singer called up one person from each table to sing karaoke with him…so my friend Alysha impressed everyone with her Spanish and singing skills. We learned a song of which afterwards we could only remember the first line: “Por una cabeza!” Other Argentinean experience: had a tasty steak. It was good but I was more impressed by the large amounts of delicious bread we got at restaurants and the hostel. Argentines definitely love their meat, though; there were lots of outdoor restaurants, so walking down the street we could see people devouring steaks all around us. That was a difference from Chile. Also I think Mendoza has the most dangerous sidewalks of any city I know: there are 3-foot deep trenches running along between the sidewalks and the streets in most places (for water, although there was no water in them), plus random deep holes in other places. A friend of one of my friends, who’s studying in Mendoza, said she had seen at least 3 people fall in. South America is different...
And the other thing we did, which I had always wanted to do: paragliding! I got to fly over the precordillera, the foothills of the Andes. I was surprised that I wasn’t afraid at all once I was actually up in the air: only the running off the cliff part was a little scary (I didn’t have to do any work: my guide was sitting behind me and controlled everything). It was beautiful and peaceful.
Returning yesterday, we crossed the border again on top of the Andes surrounded by snow. The road was really twisty in parts! There were lots of pretty, skinny waterfalls coming down through the mountains because of melting snow. So…the little slice of Argentina that I saw was great and I wish I could easily have spent a whole week just in Mendoza.