I arrived in Mendoza after another 19 hour bus ride, which wasn´t bad at all. Leaving at 1pm and getting there are 8am the next day is about as good of timing you can get with a long bus ride. It´s kind of funny with buses in this route here because it is the main tourist path, so the buses are always full of tourists (sometimes literally 100% are tourists). Because of that, it´s so easy to meet people on buses. I met the German girl on a bus from Ushuaia to Puerto Natales before going hiking and then spent 5 days with her, then from El Chalten to Bariloche I met a few girls from The Netherlands and spent some days with them. We then took the same bus from Bariloche to Mendoza, but unfortunately lost each other when we arrived and ended up going to seperate hostels, so I haven´t been able to meet up with them here.
I have hit a stage in my trip where I miss having something constant. I think a good part of it is that I am traveling much faster than I would prefer, so then I get to places and then leave very soon after. I have also met so many people, which I meet and then usually within a day I never see them again. I must admit that it can be tough and a bit lonely at times. But that´s just part of the traveling life. It´s like my moving around for work and studies the past few years, every 6 months moving to a new spot after making some friends. Now it just happens to be a much shorter amount of time in the amount of anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 days.
So after arriving to Mendoza, I did what has become the norm for me, randomly walk around to find a cheap hostel. Sometimes I get lucky and get it the first time, sometimes it takes an hour or two. This time was about an hour before I found one with space.
During the day, I caught up on some computer stuff, like doing my taxes (luckily my company is still providing me the tax preparation service for my time in Prague) and just catching up with people. At night, I joined a few Couchsurfers at a great weekly event they have at the city hall in Mendoza, a free wine tasting with live music on the top floor with views overlooking the city and the surrounding mountains. This night was classical music, so yet again I was underdressed with my raggedy jeans and wrinkly shirt while some people were even wearing suits. But luckily I wasn´t the only one. But it was a really cool event to have a free glass of wine with live music on a summer night.
Yesterday, I jumped on a bus and made my way to Maipu, a town close to the wine region here just outside of Mendoza. Mendoza is the most important wine making region in Argentina, exporting a lot to the US along with other countries. With the wineries in a relatively close area, it´s popular to take a bike tour and go from winery to winery. Wine tasting and biking on an 80 degree sunny day, sounds like a recipe for disaster.
I rented the bike and started out alone, but ended up meeting people throughout the day including some British, an Austrian, New Zealander, many Belgians, Australians, and others. I didn´t do any wine tastings since I was trying to save some money (a wine tasting was almost $10 at most places), but I did buy a bottle of wine and split it with some others I met at one of the vineyards. I even randomly met a Belgian girl who I spent Christmas Eve with in La Paz. I knew she was living in Mendoza now, but we just happened to see each other in a winery. Small world.
So now I am just hanging out in Mendoza and will head to the border of Chile tomorrow at some point. The highest mountain in the western hemisphere is on the way, so I am tryng to decide if it is worth the stop to hike for a day or two.
Random note, on the bus ride to Mendoza they played a movie called Source Code which is set in the city of Chicago. Pretty funny to see the Bean and other places in Chicago while on a bus ride in Argentina.
That´s all for now. Have a good weekend!