On the bus ride into Mendoza, Gaia got sick. She threw up into a bag on the bus, which thankfully contained the mess. The couple across the aisle from us were not so lucky. Their little girl also threw up, all over herself and her dad. I felt really bad for them.
We got to Mendoza and checked into our hotel. The couple who ran the place were very nice, though I was disappointed to find out that they tacked on an additional ten dollars per night (undisclosed at point of sale) for air conditioning. We would later wonder just what we were paying for, as it was still very hot in the room.
Gaia wasn’t feeling well still, so Laura stayed with her at the room while Eva and Lila and I went out for food. At first we were unimpressed, as the side of town where we were staying was not super nice. Almost everything we passed was closed, and the buildings were not in great shape. When we eventually made it to downtown, things looked a bit nicer, and I was especially impressed with all the tall trees that were growing along the streets, many of them sycamores. We had a really hard time finding a restaurant though. We had to go some ways before we found one. One guy at a bar told us that most restaurants don’t open until eight pm.
Argentina time. My sister Laurie lived in Mendoza for a summer during her college years, and she talked about how they would work until one, sleep for a few hours in the afternoon, and then work again until evening. Around ten, everybody goes out and dances until about three in the morning. We didn’t experience the disco nightlife, but we definitely noticed that things closed in the afternoon for several hours, usually re-opening around five or six. Hardly anything was open at four pm.
After eating we went to the playground at the main plaza, which Lila loved. When you're four, traveling the world is only as interesting as the playground equipment, I suppose. When we got back to the hotel, Gaia was still feeling a bit sick, but Laura was famished. She ate the food we brought back and we all went to bed a bit early that night.
The next day we walked about the city, following our tourist map to all the notable locations. Gaia was feeling better, though she hadn’t eaten much the day before and was weak, making it even harder than usual for her to walk. We marched on, though, because walking is how we get around. For a time on this walk, we acquired a stray dog that followed us as if she belonged with us. She was a sweet dog, and the girls all begged to keep her. What’s funny is that they were serious, as if they had no idea why that would be impossible.
We went out to the big city park, where we found a playground with some good swings, and a nice tall tree to climb. I went way up, hoping for a good view, but all I could see was trees. That’s a good thing, I suppose. Then we went over to a lake, but of course everybody was hungry and we had to stop to eat something.
Even though there have been many memorable and awesome experiences on this trip, we will probably remember it most by the typical routine that has evolved: walk around and eat. Walk around and eat. Sleep, wake, repeat.
We ate snacks at a lakeside café, then walked back to town. Once we got into the city again, surprise surprise, the girls were hungry again. More food. Then we walked some more. We went a pretty long way to get to a place on the map where there was a rooftop garden with a view (stopping for fruit along the way), only to find that it was closed for the afternoon, to re-open in an hour. We didn’t want to wait an hour, so we went out to eat yet again, and then headed home.
Since we hadn’t really found anything too exciting to do that day, we allowed another movie, watching Evan Almighty this time. Good old Tom Shadyac. Always good for a chuckle.
The next day was our departure for Cordoba, but it was an overnight bus, leaving us all day to walk around and eat again. We stored our stuff at the hotel and headed out, with little on the agenda. This was actually fine for everyone, and even though I would have enjoyed exploring farther out into the city, we ended up just sitting in a park for most of the day, napping in the grass and playing with the girls. We found an awesome vegetarian buffet with really good food, which we ate for both lunch and dinner. Then it was off to the bus station.
Mendoza was a nice town, but largely uneventful for us. We liked all the tall trees, and it was quiet and not too crowded and busy for a city. If we had spent more time there, I imagine we could have found some cool stuff to do, but we are moving way too fast through most of our destinations to get too in depth.
Another aspect of it is research. It takes a long time to figure out where the cool places are, and it’s much easier if you know someone who’s actually there, or who knows the area. Internet research usually only yields the more common tourist destinations, and the kinds of places we’re most interested in (ecovillages or off-the-beaten-path natural spots or hikes, don’t usually show up in those kinds of searches.)
My good friend from Glendale, Josh, once said that he could spend the rest of his life living in the Cow Creek Valley and not see all the amazing places there are to see, so why would even try to see the whole world? There’s truth to this. The world is way too huge to get to know most of it or even a small part of it in one lifetime. We could have spent our entire two months in any one of the countries we’ve visited and still not seen half of them. Doing it that way, though, would have given us time to make the connections with locals to find out where the good spots are.
Still, I’m glad to be able to see even the drive-by (or walk-through) overview of all these awesome places, and I hope I’ll have time to come back to some of my favorites. It’s an amazing world, we’re living on, and I’m sure thankful it’s here for us to wander about.