Friday, June 15, 2012

Andes day trip

A trek up to the Andes was planned for the second day of the Mendoza adventure. We started early in the morning to begin the 300km round trip. We stopped in many places to take in the beauty of this rugged terrain as well as taste local fare.
We began our journey before sunrise
 The Andes are a spectacular mountain range. As we were driving, I was thinking about all the mountain ranges I have been fortunate to drive through...Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, Rockies and the Alps. The Andes range is the most rugged to me. All of these places have their own unique beauty. I found the contrast of the desert with the snow to be very stark and magnificent.

3 Americans and a Portuguese in the Andes
I was travelling with a few colleagues. We decided to come early before our meeting with the International team. This was a great way to relax before "working" for a few days.
St. Martin Bridge
 St. Martin was the liberator of Argentina from the Spaniards. This is a bridge on the Mendoza river to commemorate the battles that were fought.
Very icy Mendoza river...brrrr
 I was fascinated by the ice in the river. Coming from California, I have never seen something like this. Arthur, who is from North Dakota was not as fascinated by my SEVERAL pictures of the ice in the river. Apparently North Dakota has ice as well...go figure!
Andes Artisans
 We stopped at a little village of Artisans selling local souvenirs. Unfortunately, Argentina is mainly a cash based society and my debit card didn't work up here.
Inca Bridge

Aconcagua-tallest peak in the Americas (in the distance)

Near the Chilean border
Once we arrived at the Chile-Argentina border, we had to turn around. But first, we stopped in a town of 7 people and ate an amazing lunch.
This day was quite memorable for me. I was actually dreading being in the snow and cold, but I found it exhilarating and refreshing. However, I don't think it was enough to convince me to be in the snow or cold more often.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mendoza: Day 1

I made it to Mendoza!!! The flight from Santiago to Mendoza is quick, but one of the most memorable flights I have had. The view is breathtaking...we were so close to the mountain tops. The decent was a bit bumpy, but I am thrilled that I don't have to get on another plane for a week.
Pretty fantastic view
 Upon arrival, we were transported to our hotel with 30 minutes to unload our things and go on our scheduled winery tour. We were all so tired but somehow found the gumption to complete 4+ hours of touring wineries and an olive oil producer.
Mendoza wine country
 Today was a bit hazy and this picture does not do the view justice...the Andes are spectacular.
Crazy traffic with a Yerba Mate to keep calm
In Argentina, Yerba Mate is a drink that is sipped on all day. Since we haven't had time to stop at a cafe, I was pleased to see that our driver had time to have his cup. This was an insane traffic jam that we somehow got through...maybe the Mate kept him calm???
Lovely old cellar
Today was a whirlwind. I thought it was Monday all day. I guess it is easy to lose track of time when you are on a tight travel schedule. I'm just happy that I am on the ground and get to explore a place I never thought I'd travel to.

Buenos Noches!

Weary Traveler, Happy Heart

I have spent the past few days travelling trying to reach Mendoza, Argentina and there have been a few hiccups. I am on my 4th day of travel and still haven't reached my destination. However, I am a short flight away. I've experienced a closed runway, rescheduled flights and lots of insomnia. But my heart is happy and the familiar excitement that accompanies travel has lifted my spirits. Last night on the plane, I could not sleep and I tried every possible position that the seat would afford me. Since sleep was not an option, I decided to open the shade to check out the stars. What I was treated to was a lightening storm. I have never flown through one and it knocked my socks off. It is amazing what nature is capable of. I sat there in awe with a heart full of gratitude. Shortly afterwards, I was able to fall asleep and woke up a few hours later to the sun rising behind the Andes. I haven't even reached my destination yet the journey has been well worth it.