57 Days Abroad

Day 31. Mendoza and Its Death Traps

Woke up on the bus this morning and an hour later we arrived to Mendoza about 8:30am. The city and its surroundings reminded us a lot of Colorado because the city is on the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The city is on a flat plane right next to sky-scrapping mountains.

The bus station was a bustlin’ commerce spot with stores, restaurants and bus company kiosks. Thankfully, our hostel (Savigaliano Hostel) we booked was a short walking distance from the station. Once we were in the lobby of the hostel, we seen on the TV that there had been an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile– the second biggest earthquake for Chile in the past 50 years. The disaster effects were far reaching causing tremors and tsunami warnings for areas thousands of kilometers away. Santiago, Chile’s capital, received some heavy blows as they shut the airport down for three days and lost power and phone lines for an unknown amount of time. Last we knew the death toll was over 200 people with many more people not accounted for. Much of the roads and bridges that connect Santiago to the southern part of Chile have been severely damaged.

The whole situation is quite troubling and leaves us with even more ambiguity on our travel plans. Our whole plan was to stay in Mendoza one night and then head to Santiago the following morning. Now we weren’t even sure if the roads would be open or if we should look for an alternative route. Fortunately or unfortunately, we hadn’t previously purchased the next segment of our trip…

We finished checking into our hostel room. It was a private room with four single beds. The staff was great and helped us with getting our bodega (winery) tour picked out. We left to get a few things done before our tour. We actually went back to the bus station, confirmed there were buses still going to Santiago the next morning, and then bought our one way tickets to Santiago.

Trying to pull money from with my ATM proved to be a nightmare. I tried at three banks and was unsuccessful regardless of the fact I used the card earlier. Frustrated, I went back to the hostel to call up Wells Fargo and see what’s up. Shortly thereafter the tour bus for the wineries came to pick us up.

On a full bus, we first went to the Bodega y Cavas de Weinert winery. This winery was said to be a bigger and of higher quality wines than the normal wineries. We snapped some photos and did some wine tasting. Then we went to the Armine Granata winery. This was smaller in size but had good wine samples. According to our tour guide, Mendoza is the 7th capital in wine producers with over 950 wineries. It was a good experience but comparing these wineries to the ones I’ve visited in Spain, the Mendoza bodegas were not as impressive.

Next we toured an olive oil producing facility called Laur Aceite De Oliva. This was a better-than-expected portion of the tour. We learned a bit about olives and the fact that this facility produces over one million liters of olive oil a year.

We headed back to the hostel, cleaned up and headed out to get some dinner. We walked a ways and found a place that took American Express. The food was not the greatest we’ve tasted but whatever. After dinner, we walked further down Av Colón. Finally, we found the hot spot of Mendoza. There were hundreds of people eating in this particular zone. We hung out for a bit and headed back to the hostel. We shall see what tomorrow and the next few days after that will bring.

Oh yeah and this is the second time I’ve had cologne stolen from me (first time was in Mazatlan, Mexico). It really bums me out because it was fairly new. The thief was a baggage handler and took it from the Buenos Aires terminal when we boarded the bus for Mendoza…

BTW the title, Mendoza and It’s Death Traps, is a result of the city being flooded with irrigation canals/gutters (no pun intended) throughout the city. The deep gutters lay between the streets and sidewalks and aren’t maintained too well. If you don’t look, you could fall and bust a femur or two.

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