We made it to Mendoza. We had a few problems at customs (very strange place 2800m up in the Andes) because of our lack of Spanish. We were meant to have forms from the airport but we didn´t realise and the people were not impressed. We spent a while in limbo having been signed out of Chile but not yet signed into Argentina. Then they searched some bags and there were problems getting my bag back on the bus because they didn´t know if we were passengers... it was really bloody ridiculous!
Once back on the bus they served us all flat Pepsi in styrofoam cups (all the while on a semi-paved road weaving in and out of crevices) but seeing as Greg and I were at the very back of the bus, Greg only got a tiny bit of Pepsi so they came over and topped it up with Sprite. It was a bit odd. Had some horrible biscuit as well. Tasted like cardboard covered in sugared plastic. Mmm...
Anyway, we´re here now. The bis trip was quite scary. I will put up some photos later. The road seemed to go on forever once we got out of the mountains. Mendoza is an hour ahead of Chile so when we arrived it was about 9.30pm and roughly 30 degrees. Humid, sticky and inescapable. We thought we´d walk to the hostel but when we felt the heat we decided it was better to get a bus at least to dump our big packs. We got numbers of buses and directions from a slightly distracted Argentine woman. The directions were completely wrong according to a bus driver we spoke to. So we gave up on the bus and found a taxi stand.
We had our Chilean pesos changed to Argentine pesos at the bus station and booked a bus back to Santiago on Friday (we had a few problems with buses being full on the way here - hence the very back seats). When we finally got our head around the currency we were both a bit shocked at the prices for everything. Ridiculous! Our taxi took maybe 10 mins but all up it was 5 pesos, about $2.50NZ. We had some trouble explaining where we wanted to go. I couldn´t understand much of what the driver was saying. The accents are very different to those of the Chileans. Argentina ¨Cho¨, Chile ¨Yo¨, Argentina ¨Yuno¨, Chile üno¨etc. Not a huge difference but noticable.
We arrived at Hostel Independencia, the same hostel Marty stayed at 3 years ago. Got ourselves settled, tried to accustom ourselves to the heat (unsuccessful) and had a quick chat with 2 of the guys who work here. They said that during the day the temerature was around
36 -38 degrees. Gaah! A significant difference to Valparaiso which has been cold for the past couple of days.
So, everything settled, we headed out in search of food. We only made it across the road but perusing the menu was astounding. Huge pizzas $7NZ, bottles of wine $7, cocktails $4, berr $1.50, full meals $5. Insane!
My stomach has been a bit dodgy since we left Valparaiso yesterday so I wasn´t sure how much I was going to eat but we ordered, much to the confusion of the waitress, 2 huge pizzas and a couple of beers. The girl couldn´t quite understand why we were ordering 2 pizzas for 2 people but complied anyway. They were massive pizzas and I only managed a few slices but Greg got through most of his and the rest we got packed up to take home.
Got back to the hostel about 1am. Greg stayed up for a while but I hadn´t slept well the night before and hadn´t managed to sleep on the bus (Greg falls asleep instantly in any moving vehicle) so I went to bed in the sweltering heat that was still lingering.
In the morning, very early morning, I woke to a downpour outside the window. Yay! It meant that this morning was a far more tolerable heat. I don´t handle 38 degrees very well! Went for a quick walk around the streets and encountered a man walking his dog and his big white goose through the main streets of Mendoza. That´s not something you see everyday!
Going to doa wine tour tomorrow avo. Can´t wait!