30 July 2012

mendoza & buenos aires

true story: buenos aires was named the same way the vikings named greenland, as a farce. the air here smells like smog and garbage fires, which to me smells a bit like peanut butter.  hundreds of garbage fires behind us now, michael finally agrees with that analysis.  anyway, we're in buenos aires.
michael says all the hostel owners here regarded us with suspicion when we first pulled up, at 10pm.  all said they were full.  the place we finally did end up staying originally told him they were full, then saw the car and me inside of it and realized he wasn't a bum, and the desk lady ran out to the street and gave us a room, sans heat or wifi, but for cheap.  (it's still cold here... we were hoping this was finally where our toes might thaw)  anyway, we found a comfy bed, and tomorrow i guess we're going to try to leave the car somewhere around here and take a ferry to uruguay. 
yesterday was our wine country bike tour day.  we didn't make the entire 40km circuit, probably because we got off to a late start, and we spent a lot of time at the first winery.  we went to a total of three, which actually is plenty of winery for both of us.  each place wants to give you the tour before the tasting.  we were excited to take the first winery's tour, but then they're kinda all pretty similar, and after biking all over maipu (that's the rural-ish suburb of mendoza where many of the wineries are grouped conveniently for you to bike around to) we really just wanted to sit down and drink wine.  we went to two small family-owned vinyards and one huge corporatish-one.  i hate to say it, but the big winery had the best wines.  anyway, we had single-speed cruisers, both of which had frames that were way too small for us, so we didn't exactly fit in the entire 40km loop as planned.  all told we spent about 6 or 7 hours out with our bikes, but a lot of that time was spent with a wine glass in hand.  if the aim of the bike/wine concept in mendoza is to burn the calories you consume, i'm not sure it's effective.  but we had a great time in the sun, which was warm, which is such a rarity on this trip.

after the bike/wine tour we feasted on pizza #24,506 of this trip (south america really likes italian culture) and then headed for the plains, driving across the entire south american continent.  we landed on the east coast, in buenos aires, a couple of hours ago, thinking it would finally be warm.  it's not, at all, but at least it's warm enough that the hotel rooms don't automatically come with califactiones (heat) and you still don't feel like throwing in the towel and heading immediately to the carribean coast. 

so tomorrow we are off to uruguay for a whirlwind trip via ferry - probably just a night - and then back here to pick up the car, and we'll head north to paraguay then iguazu falls, then to brazil to meet tanmoy for two weeks of hopefully WARM beach & amazon time. 


we drove down from chile through those mountains in the background.  they're a lot larger than they appear here!

bikes & wines

old winery - from 1898

new winery - built in 2007

someone's tired of tours and ready for the tasting part

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this is how you boot a car in argentina.  not very effective.

i ordered the chef's special, gato sopa

i didn't really eat a cat.  here he is, alive and well and on my lap.

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27 July 2012

our short stay in santiago / crossing over into argentina

we had a pitcher of a drink consisting of white wine, pisco (grape liquor, popular in chile and peru), and something like tangerine sorbet.  i liked it.  michael didn't.

there was live music there, but we sat in the back and missed most of the show anyways.

i realized leaving santiago that i didn't take any pictures of santiago.  so i took this one, unspectacular as it was.  i didn't get the typical smoggy/mountain-y postcard shot.

when we arrived to the argentina border, it was closed for the night.  another night of car sleeping in the snowy mountains followed.

finally out of the mountains, into wine country

upon arrival in argentina we had a lovely steak / horrible pasta lunch at a place with a giant fire & grill featuring various organs strewn over coals.  i am not in my food element here.  but there is wine.  so that will be my nutrition for the next week or so.  we are in mendoza now, and my alpaca sweater is still shrunken.  it gets very cold here when the wine wears off.  tomorrow we are going on a 40-km bike ride touring wineries in the countryside, then heading east which will hopefully be warmer.
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26 July 2012

to argentina!

santiago´s lovely, but we have to be in rio de janiero by august 7th to meet tanmoy. that´s really far from here and not long from now! so we´re leaving the west coast today. i´m typing from a free computer in the waiting room of an oil change place, i love this country. there are five people underneath our car right now, and we don´t know if they know what they are doing or if they are just curious because there aren´t really any old cars here in chile.  anyway, assuming our car´s oil change is a success, our next stop is mendoza, argentina, a big wine region.  no internets again for awhile as we cross the bloody cold andes.  oh and the jerks at the last lavanderia (laundry joint) shrunk my alpaca sweater.  so while i attempt a few remedies to restretch it, i´m going to have a cold night in the mountains.  grr.

25 July 2012

chile, finally!

so now that we finally have five seconds to lie down in a hotel room with internets, here's what's happened over the last two weeks, in short:

- we got a 1968 vw bug that reliably breaks down and eventually starts again.  we've taken it to a million different mechanics.  we give up.  we are just driving it slowly and accepting its faults.  of which there are many.

- we made it to cuzco and machu picchu from there.  after that we headed to puno, peru, on the bolivia border, for mechanic hell and bitter, bitter cold.  we slept in the car a few nights and woke to ice on the inside of the windows. 

- oh, and the car really only likes being driven at night.  which is unfortunate because it has no heat, and lots of cold leaky holes, and we've been driving in temperatures well below freezing.  we bought a blanket and thermos, and we suck it up and have accepted that we are probably going to lose our toes to frostbite before the end of this trip.

- after puno, peru we made a run for the bolivian border, where we were turned away twice.  spent a day backtracking to puno, and another day obtaining a document from lima allowing us to leave the country.  somewhere in these bitter mountains, we decided we were just too cold and didn't want to go to bolivia anyway.  so after all that time, we turned back towards the coast and crossed over into chile instead.  we might make it to bolivia later, we might skip it.  i would really like to see the salt desert, but i would also really like to not be cold and sick from altitude. 

- crossing over into chile was like landing in heaven with 72 virgins.  we stopped in the very first town, arica, and went to a very fancy place for dinner, treating ourselves after having survived the mountains and just barely gotten across the border semi-legally with our car's questionable documents.  the restaurant was comfy and the waiter put USA waiters to shame.  we got a raw marlin dish and octopus ravioli in a saffron cream sauce.  and to splurge, we got a bottle of wine.  the waiter had us pick it from the cellar, and i thought i misheard the price he quoted me on the bottle i'd selected.  all throughout dinner i was sure i'd ordered an $80 (USD) bottle of wine.  when we got the bill, it turned out the wine bottle was $8.  i love this country.

- we spent a night in the car after arica, and the next day landed in another coastal city, iquique.  we got a hostel, dumped our stuff, and went on a search for dinner... for about four hours.  NOTHING was open.  it was a saturday night.  we were perplexed.  there were people milling about, plenty of churches and bodegas open... but all the restaurants were closed.  we finally found a pizza and beer place literally hours after walking around in search of fancy dinner.  the next day we left and headed south.

- we spent the next three nights sleeping in the car in increasingly southern therefore colder locations.  we spent a day in antofagasta trying again to get our car fixed.  we were semi-successful, but the mechanic didn't know how to fix the problem with the odometer that another mechanic in puno had created.  he sent us to another mechanic, who sent us somewhere else, and by the time the sun was setting we were at the fourth or fifth place, and they weren't being very helpful at all.  so one of us -guess which one- decided to take the speedometer apart themselves.  and when putting it back together, there was just a little short circuit and just a little bit of smoke.  and then, when we thought we had it all figured out and fixed and drove off to a wine store to get a bottle to drink on the beach, i turned the key to turn the car off, and not only did the car not turn off, but the horn started blaring.  i guess we rewired it wrong.  so now the car can only be used in this order:
  a. turn car on
  b. turn lights on
  c. drive etc
  d. turn lights off
  e. turn ignition off
if you do step e. before d., the car won't turn off and the horn will blare.  back in cuzco many weeks ago we came across a bug whose horn was blaring and the owner of the car was nowhere to be found.  perhaps they performed the same questionable rewiring.  oh, and we blew the aux cable's fuze, so til we fix that no ipod :(
- anyway, we are in santiago, chile right now, about to take our first shower in four days, and then go hit the town to find some live music and vino.  ciao!   

here's a hint at who started messing with the odometer...

we make perro friends so easily here!

friendly perro

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