When it was time to leave Santiago and me free place to stay in Scott´s apartment I decided to catch a bus across the boarder to Mendoza, Argentina. One of the main attractions in Mendoza is the wine industry there. I met some friends in the hostel, one of which I knew from Bolivia, and we organized a wine tour for the next day. It was a bike tour so we headed out on some below average bikes to check out how they make the wine. We were expecting to get to try a lot of different wines throughout the day but the winerys were quite stingy only giving us about a half a glass to a glass each (we went to 3 winerys). There was some intersting information but the one I liked the best was the organic winery. The process that they use to make the wine sounded better and it actually tasted a bit better as well, in my expert opinion. I dont have any pictures from the tour because I didnt have a charger for my camera....oh well, it wasnt that spectactular so no big loss there.
I spent a lot of my time in Mendoza figuring out how to get my new Bank card sent down and waiting to pick it up. I also managned to find a new camera charger near the end of my stay there. One night I managed to meet up with a friend that I had met in 2005 in in Morocco, we have been in contact through email sporadically throughout the last few years so it was cool to see him.
I liked the town of Mendoza but it wasnt spectacular by any means. Below are a few pictures of random things from Mendoza.
Quilmes is the most popular beer in Argentina.
Guido from Rosario, Argentina and a girl from the Netherlands.
An interesting type of truck I´ve never seen before.
A cool car about the size of a Mini Cooper but I think its a Fiat.
The next generation of race tires from Kumho (the same brand I used to use while racing the Integra). The Power Racer 2 is supposed to be some pretty advanced stuff....haha
After Mendoza I headed down to Bariloche, Argentina which is on the northern fringe of Patagonia. We were there in the off season but it looked like a pretty cool ski lodge town that would be really happening in the middle of winter (June). I was travelling with a guy named David from England at the time and we decided to rent bikes and ride to the base of the ski slopes and see if we could get a cable car to the top. The views were great and the pictures are below. I used to snow board about 10 or 11 years ago on the little hills in Ohio. Visiting this resort made me want to pick it up again. Maybe I will......
Below are some of the pictures from back in the town of Bariloche. There is a big lake there, which is pretty nice. Even though the weather wasn´t great we went for a long walk in a national park nearby. A few dogs from one of the hotels found us and followed us for about 2 or 3 hours. There were were 3 of them and 2 of them were pretty smart. At one point we went the wrong way and the smart ones just stopped in the middle of the road and refused to follow us anymore. The young ¨dumb¨one followd us for another hour or so. When we got on the bus back to town at the end of the park the dog looked so confused and sad. We felt bad about leaving him there but had not choice.
View from town
The dogs that followed us all day.
David getting ready to cook dinner. He loves to cook, can you tell?
After Bariloche we took another LONG (maybe 16 hour) bus ride towards Puerto Madryn on the East coast of Argentina. I decided to leave Bariloche a few hours early and stop in another town about 4 hours south to break up the trip. When I arrived at the bus station I checked my backpack into a storage facility and was about to walk around town when two plain clothes police officers came up to me asking if I had any drugs. I didnt believe they were real police so I just walked away, then one of them grabbed me pretty forcefully and kept talking in Spanish. I said if they wanted to search my bag we had to go to the police station. One guy pulls out his cell phone and calls someone to come pick us up. They wanted me to give them my passport but I didnt want to give it up so I gave them a copy instead. Then I´m thinking, wait a second, I dont want to get in a car with these guys so I tell them Im not going to the station unless we can walk there (it was a really small town). When I said that they asked if I had any drugs again. I said no. Then they let me go. Sounds strange but when I saw a police officer in uniform later on in town I asked him and he confirmed that they had guys doing searches at the bus station. I think I handled it alright...not to toot my own horn or anything.
The main reason to go to Puerto Madryn is to see the Southern Right Whales and some Penguins there. The whale trip was a lot different than the whale trip in Ecuador because the whales werent jumping out of the water, but they were curious and swimming right up to the side of the boat. At times they were almost touching the boat. I think they are the only type of whale without a dorsal fin and generally speaking they are pretty ugly and have strange crustaceans on their bodies. Either way it was pretty impressive to see them so close to the boat.
PUERTO MADRYN, ARGENTINA
David was wearing his life jacket around on land all day. What a strange guy.
There were also huge elephant seals on part of the trip. Cool, huh?
You cant see it too well in this picture, but the whales are very close to the shore.
Some penguins....Scott was excited when he saw these pictures. For some reason he loves penguins.
While in Puerto Madryn we also managed to find a bar that would allow us to watch the final Formula One race of the season. It was an interesting race to watch so I´m glad I didnt miss that. After the whales and the F1 race, we were read to move on. Oh yeah, I got a haircut there too.
Me after travelling for 4 months without a haircut.
When we left Puerto Madryn we got on another LONG bus trip, this time about 24 hours in total to get to El Calafate. The road was long and straight and there wasnt much to look at. But the sunset was amazing. I slept most of the time and attempted to read a magazine using the electronic spanish translator that I had my dad send me.
Sunset headed south along the east coast.
Race car parked out front of a house.