San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Argentina will be the last (new) country we visit on the Latin American leg of our around-the-world odyssey. We arrived here in Mendoza on Monday evening (it’s now Wednesday afternoon as I write this) and we’ll be back on the road this coming Monday or Tuesday. I mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph that Argentina will be the last new country, because we will be returning to Yucatan, Mexico for three months before heading back to the United States for a short visit (we will have been on the road for five years at that point).
Mendoza is a beautiful little city at the foot of the eastern slopes of the snow-covered Andes Mountains (the second highest mountain range in the world). It’s nestled in Argentina’s premier wine country famous for its robust reds, and we plan on visiting some of those wineries before leaving. The tree-lined streets provide much-needed shade in the hot summer months where temperatures can reach 45°C (113ºF). This time of year the weather is magnificent with sunny days and brisk evenings (averaging about 25°C or 77°F highs during the day)—PERFECT.
An interesting feature of Mendoza, and all the cities and towns running along the Andes Mountains, is their hours of business: every afternoon between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. businesses close for siesta (except restaurants and some small neighbourhood markets). This is a concession to the hot summer months, but is surprisingly adhered to in the winter months too. People go to work in the morning, then eat their biggest meal and nap during the siesta hours, and then return to work in the cooler evening hours.
We are in the land of premium beef and Argentinian beef is famous around the world for its quality (maybe second to only to Kobe beef of Japan). There is also a large German influence in Argentinian cuisine and most restaurants offer up knackwurst, bratwurst and bockwurst as well as sauerkraut and a variety of potatoes (we will be partaking of these delicious sausages during this afternoon’s meal). Tomorrow we have an all day tour of Alta Montana (7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and I hope to get some great scenic photos of this beautiful region.
We have a very ambitious schedule planned for our three months in Argentina, loosely outlined here: Mendoza, San Carlos de Bariloche (like the Swiss Alps), El Calafate and Los Glaciares (Patagonia), Ushuaia (the southernmost part of Argentina where ships leave for Antarctica), Puerto Madryn (where you can usually see whales up through September), Mar del Plata (east coast), Buenos Aires, Cordoba (Pampas) and Iguazu Falls. Whew, I’m tired already—but excited. Finishing up in late November we’ll catch a plane in Buenos Aires for the flight back to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (our original starting point).
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer, World Traveller