Very sorry to leave you all hanging at the end of last week! I was in Mendoza, Argentina for the weekend (wine country) and didn’t bring my laptop for fear of it being stolen .. turns out this was more appropriate than I could have known…
Anyways, I think you will find my documentation of the weekends events entertaining. I hand wrote the following entry on the bus ride home last night/this morning.
“We left Thursday night after Tango class (sort of) and got milenesa [breaded cutlets of meat – see previous entries] and salads from El Club de La Milenesa. It was just Alexa and I on our bus because our other friends booked their tickets before we did, so naturally we ended up booking with different bus lines. Also, they rode in luxury, which I despise them for. Obviously we ended up choosing semi cama option for the bus, which is exactly what it sounds like (if you really need me to explain it, it’s a seat that reclines but doesn’t turn into a bed), while the other girls rode in cama (leather seats that recline into beds), were served food and wine, left the terminal after us, and arrived before us. Not that I’m bitter or anything. It was a casual 14 hour bus ride through what looked like a third-world country, accompanied by bad mariachi music and “thick” girls in thongs dancing on the tiny TV screens. I loved it. (I almost had to erase that last sarcastic remark because the memory grossed me out. whatever)
When we eventually arrived in Mendoza Friday morning, the others had already left for the hostel (not helping their case in the slightest). We made our way there as my caffeine headache began pulsing in my forehead. This was my first hostel and I’m not sure I’d do it again (but I already booked one for a week in Brazil, so it looks like I am). The room was about ye  big and contained four bunk beds with what appeared to be someone’s childhood bedspread from the 90s. The shower was literally a faucet over the toilet – and it wasn’t a private bathroom either. I wanted to vom even though it was $60 AR/night ($15USD). En serio, no gracias.
Anyway, Friday, it rained (as it always does when I go on vacation), and we went to this adorable victorian place for lunch called Farrah, where I started drinking (it was already 1pm and if I couldn’t have caffeine, alcohol was the next best bet). The food was delicious as a side note. Eventually the sun came out and we wandered to a park because all of the stores were closed until 4pm (didn’t they know I was coming??). I befriended a stray dog on the street when he came over and whined… I just felt like he was starving. I bought him some light crackers from a Kiosk so as not to upset his stomach with anything too rich. I fed him at first but eventually left the bag open on the street for him. He ended up following us anyway, and we took to calling him “Scar” (from the Lion King). I felt like I did the right thing.
We had an early dinner (by Argentine standards) around 7pm at El Palenque, which was recommended by my guide book. It was very rustic and I think the saying on the wall said something along the lines of “One should always drink before hiking in the Andes”… probably not though. Regardless, I loved this place….so much that I had three empanadas, two Pisco Sours, some alcoholic smoothie, AND ordered tequila shots for the table. Clearly I have a toxic personality. It was a pretty solid time though. After being stared at by the wait staff for being obnoxious and obviously American, we departed and headed to Por Aca, the local “it” bar. You could probably guess, but I ordered another mojito which I never got around to drinking because I was napping on the table (frowned upon?). We also ordered pizza because it was only $35 AR ($6 USD) which was obviously shitty, and nachos. The crust was so floury so I took all the cheese off a piece and ate the glob – kill me, I felt it for the next three days. Don’t hold it against me, you know you’ve eaten things drunk that you never ever should. Immideately after the nachos arrived and we finished what the kitchen hoped to pass off as guacamole with a solid three tortilla chips, we paid half the check and bolted (I think we may have had bad service and were mad about the food sucking). We giddily speed walked back to the hostel and climbed in our gross beds and slept blissfully in our lock-less room.
Oh wow, this was a rough one. We woke up at 11 and I was forced to shower in the abyss that they called a bathroom. Standing under the water, I found myself asking what I had ever done to deserve such desolate living conditions. I knew my parents wouldn’t even make me do that to save a buck and therefore felt really conflicted. Mom and Dad, if you’re reading, please wire me money so I can erase my memories of ever being in a hostel by buying new clothes… or anything for that matter. Ugh. Anyway, we went to two vineyards that day, one modern, and one family owned and run. Temperatures were already below freezing outside ( I think) so touring wine cellars was not optimal, yet I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel: tastings. I wasn’t about to pass up free wine just because I felt like death and had only had one cup of gas-station coffee. I felt so grown up drinking in small portions, almost like an adult (I shudder at the thought). Luckily I didn’t have time to dwell on this weird combination of emotions and physical symptoms, because we went to an olive oil plantation. I ate more bread… so much for living low carb! The eating continued, as always, when we went to this place “Good Old Johnny’s” which was a music themed restaurant. The colorful pictures on the drink menu enticed me to buy yet another drink. The fajitas we all got were awesome but I had never felt more like puking. We went to bed, in an effort to sleep off our sins.
Wow, I live a really eventful life (rereading this makes me want to strangle myself). Today, we went trekking at the highest mountain in the Americas. We faced blizzard conditions that we were in no way, shape, or form, prepared for. Julie and Anneliese (my Stonehill counterparts) didn’t even make it past the “Welcome” sign before heading back to the bus. I refused, reminding myself that I didn’t come all the way to the Andes to be a wuss. It was a full day trip, we left at 7:15am, and got back to the hostel around 9pm. We all showered and headed to a restaurant from my guidebook, which ended up being closed (damn sundays) but we went to another good place in an area that reminded me a lot of Federal Hill in Providence with all of its outdoor dining. After finishing dinner at midnight, we went to a bar called ClarOscuro for an Andes beer, all wearing matching Incan alpaca sweaters we had bought in the mountains… It seemed like a cute idea when we were getting dressed. We found the bar after a group of girls from Georgetown recommended it to us while we were bearing the elements together (if it’s good enough for intelligent people, it’s good enough for emerging alcoholics – just kidding, Mom). By the way, I plan on telling everyone I illegally crossed the Chilean border while in the mountains (Don’t ruin this for me). That night, I slept in Alexa’s bunk for the second night after finding hair and eyelashes in mine that were clearly too short to have been mine. It worked out because she wanted to cuddle, but I mostly cuddled the wall since I got so friggen hot (if you know me this should come as no surprise). Additionally, someone came into our room twice that night since we couldn’t lock our door. I have never been so appreciative of Anneliese’s paranoia (she was on watch when the perp entered). I slept through the whole debacle so I can’t really comment.
Monday: (bear with me people)
Today I was supposed to go paragliding over the Andes but ran out of pesos (shocking). Instead we walked around the city and had a picnic with our friend Emma, who goes to a different school in Buenos Aires, and her two friends Nick and James from New Zealand. I love them. Nick is gay, has a British accent from his parents but grew up in New Zealand, speaks Japanese, and speaks spanish. He is simply hilarious and his voice kills me, I wish he could narrate my autobiography… it would be significantly funnier. First, we went for a real cup of coffee across the street from the hostel, then stocked up on chorizo sausage, lettuce, olives, hamburger rolls, chocolate, and wine to have a picnic in Plaza Independencia. It was all very local, “I-travel-on-a-budget” in a hipster kind of way. I was in my glory. Nick told us how in his time studying in Chile he hardly ever has class because the students are always protesting. He also mentioned he has been a victim of tear gas more than once. This convinced me to make visiting Chile a top priority.
Now Alexa and I are on our semi-cama bus ride home, drinking red wine from the bottle, like the classy women we are. I invite anyone to judge me.”