Day 1 – Mendoza
We spent part of our first day getting acclimatized to Argentina by relaxing around the house. The boys (Bautista and Hilario) shared with us their prize possessions – Bauiti’s latest nature catch – his pet spider and the stick bug which hangs out at the house, and Hilario his new ‘scoot’.
We walked in to the local square and met up with Marcelo – it was wonderful to meet him for the first time! – and went to buy carne (meat) for the asado that evening; rib steaks, blood sausage, chorizo, skirt steak (diaphragm and very yummy), and intestines – all were very tasty with only salt added directly before cooking on the open fire. As we walked, it was hard to miss the canals – acequias – running along side the streets. Mendoza is famous for its irrigation which was initiated by the Huarpe natives before the Spanish even arrived. The lushness of the trees would be impossible in this semi-arid desert without the acequias.
Jasmine also drove us into Mendoza for a quick tour of the main square and we visited the oldest shopping mall with a lovely stained glass ceiling. Marcelo’s father lived in the elaborate apartments over the mall as a boy. The Ortiz family goes back to the 1740’s and his distant grandfather was the representative of the Spanish government in Mendoza. They owned much of the lands in the area at that time. Michael captured some the town murals – a theme you will see crop up through the trip. The Vendimia contest was in full swing – where contestants from every region compete for the title of Vendimia queen. Posters abounded, and we even spotted a couple of the girls in limousines riding around town attending events and waving to the fans. We continued to see posters even in Buenos Aires, but the contest this year is in Mendoza, so lots of activity!
That evening we had a fantastic meal back at Marcelo & Jasmines with the mandatory Mendozan wine and some beer also along with the asado. Bautista struggles with bad dreams – so I tried to teach him Patrick’s trick of controlling your dreams and ‘beating the bad guys’. Not sure if it will work for him, but we sure slept well that night!