We arrived to Mendoza last Thursday. We stayed for ~1.5 weeks with a host family while taking some refresher Spanish courses.
Mendoza is a lovely Argentinian small city and is the “wine capital” of Argentina and most famously produces excellent Malbec. Thinking wine means cooler temperatures, we were ill prepared for the heat. Day temperatures sweltered to 99 degrees, while night temperatures 88 degrees – making sleeping a difficult scenario (thanks Ambien!). Long forgotten sweat glands in places that will remain un-named were well exercised! To make us sound less like wussies, local Mendocinos were also complaining, and our host family bought an air-conditioner on our last day 🙂
We were first introduced to the siesta here, when our first day here we explored the downtown Plaza and pedestrian mall. I didn’t realize they took the siesta so seriously – and there was no one around! Napping is a custom I could get used to… Fortunately we found a cafe and had a lovely bottle of Malbec.
To spice up some epidemiology, I probably brought Influenza B from the U.S. (one of the pleasures of working in acute care!). I was sick the first few days and a mysterious stomach illness slowly circulated around the school the following week. Should there be a summer epidemic of influenza in South America, I would be the index case!
Aside from my favorite activity of sweating and having the flu, Mendoza was absolutely splendid. Local Mendocinos (our host family included) are ridiculously nice and helpful!
Deciding to brush up on our rusty Spanish skills, we took a week of classes. Although both of us are certainly conversational in Spanish, Katie is clearly better and handles more difficult interactions with grace! Aside from being bombarded with a ton of language acquisition in a short period, the most difficult part was sitting in the classroom for the first time since medical school. We had the idea of learning medical Spanish, but our time proved to be too short to accomplish this lofty goal. We’re looking forward to continuing to use Spanish the rest of the trip.
Our favorite embarrassing moments:
“Voy a darselo.” Literally this means, I am going to give it (the pen) to her. In reference to leaving the room to give Katie a pen. My teacher politely reminded me that in Argentina, this meant I was going to have sex with her.
“En Santiago, Estoy seguro que hay PUBes.” Katie discussing an Irish students St. Patty’s Day plans.
Aconcagua is the tallest mountain outside of the Himalayas, towering at ~22,800 feet (6,962 meters). Summiting is technically “easy,” but requires 12-17 days depending for acclimatization and weather – which didn’t quite fit into our plans… Our intent was to rent a car to drive the ~1.5-2 hours into the Andes and towards Aconcagua, however, this proved to be more difficult than anticipated. We settled for a guided tour (which is something we RARELY do!). Embracing the idea of being gapers, we joined our small tour group.
The Andean mountains of this region are quite stark and without much moisture or trees. As such, Katie and I further played the role of tourists by getting absolutely scorched! Our guide, Pablo, has summited several times and was quite knowledgeable. He wanted to show us his favorite “glamping” spot, which was under the suspension bridge built for 7 Years in Tibet (mostly filmed in Argentina). After a leisurely stroll for a few hours near Aconcagua we headed back to the van. On the way, we were shown an owl nested in an abandoned train depot. Back from our retreat to cooler air, we were greeted to 95-degree heat at 8 pm. Even though our “hike” was short, I am certainly looking forward to the epic backpacking we have coming up!
I am much more of a beer-lover, but figured to adapt some new taste buds in Argentina. We did our wine tour with Trout and Wine, which was an outstanding experience. We traveled to the Valle de Uco, which is an up-and-coming region near Mendoza for wine production. Although I have no clue how to wine “taste,” I played the part by putting my nose in the glass and swirling the wine around a little. After dipping my tongue into the fermented grapes, it was fun to make up certain ridiculous adjectives (chewy tannins, barnyard, grippy, band-aid) that in no way were accurate. We decided to not use the “waste” cup – why waste wine we were paying for?!?
The wine was certainly plentiful at 3 bodegas (wineries); Gimenez-Riili, Azul, and Andeluna. The first two were smaller and family run. Andeluna is quite large and features a top gourmet chef. At Adeluna, a family member that owns Frito Lay was involved at one point. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that FIRE hot cheetos were an appetizer! Instead, we were treated to a lavish 6-course wine paired meal, highlighted by delicious steak and a raspberry mousse.
Next up – Falkland Islands!
Travel: Lan Airlines.