Me encanta Mendoza. I’ve been here almost two weeks now and I think I will be spending quite a bit more time here. It reminds me a lot of Colorado, chilled out town at the base of mountains, bathing in hot sun.
After 30+ hours of bus travel, I was welcomed by days of 80 degree, sunny weather and also Malbec World Day. Fountains were dyed red in celebration and I went to a little street festival with free wine tastings, music, art, and food.
There is a massive park in town, which I’ve been running to every day via a different route so I can get to know the city. This takes me through many plazas and along endless tree-lined streets. There are irrigation canals that run along the streets so that every now and then the river can be rerouted through the canals to water this desert town. It all makes for a very urban, chilled out gem…muy tranquilo.
It feels like someone took a list of my passions and made it into Mendoza…nature, wine, fútbol, hot springs, horses. This is how I’ve been spending my time. I did a sunset horse riding trip in the mountains, which was followed by an asado. Then our very own gaucho, Diego, serenaded us as we sat around the fire. He told us stories of playing the guitar with his family, while taking in mucho vino tinto. Diego said they often start a night like this and then wander over to a cousin’s house where they will serenade their family until they are welcomed inside for more music and wine. They might carry on to yet another relative’s house for another serenade and so on and so on. How dreamy! I love the depth of culture and family.
I’ve been cycling around to wineries in Maipú and Lujan de Cuyo, two parts of “wine country”. This has been more casual than what I’ve experienced in places like Napa. I believe this is because it’s what all of the backpackers do, so I hope to explore much more of the region over time. We were told that wine consumption used to be around 90 liters per person per year (this includes all ages!), but dipped down to 30 with more people drinking beer and spirits. They are of course famous for their Malbec and also for their Torrentes, which is a white wine that smells very fragrant and floral, but tastes crisp and dry. (I sense a full post on wine at some point, so I’ll leave it at that for now)
I’ve also spent a couple of days at natural hot springs that sit in a canyon on a river, and are so chilled out.
One of the best experiences I’ve had so far though is to go to my first fútbol game…River Plate vs. Godoy Cruz (the home team).SO many fans on their feet singing, waving flags, playing drums for every second of the game. I’ve seen sections of a stadium like this before, but here it was everyone and I was engulfed in it. I swear the stadium itself had a pulse; it was such an alive, vibrant experience.
As I’ve been traveling around Argentina and dipping into Chile, I’ve been looking for a vibe, a feeling that will tell me when to stop and settle. My intention is to find a place where I can see myself exploring, melting into the community, getting inspired by culture and nature. I’ve had times where I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t find it or wouldn’t know for sure. I am headed to meet my family in Honduras to celebrate the birthday of my amazing Mom! I plan to spend some time wandering the beaches, paying attention to how much I miss it here…and then we’ll see what happens.