It's Time for
Malbec in
A fun wine mural.
March 9, 2006

My thought process came in handy when I was selecting my seat for the bus ride out here from Santiago. While we were passing
the gorgeous scenery through the Andes, I got a front-row seat! This kind of stuff
never happens to me. Good times, I say. Good

I’m now back in Argentina. The main thing that reminds me of this is that prices are now cheap again! I can buy things at a fraction
of the price than things I bought in Chile. I can stay in hotels for a fraction of the price. Let’s start with the fact that I decided to
splurge out here in Mendoza on a hotel room. This might not look like a big deal…but the words ‘hotel room’ doesn’t happen too
often in my world these days. So, please, share in my excitement. My really nice hotel room is only $49 and the lobby area, etc.
have a nice ‘boutique’ style to it. The breakfast is amazing and I have wireless access. Oh yeah. And the location! It is right across
from the main square. Could not be better. I also had another reason for choosing a hotel out here – my sister had to send me my
plain tickets that I bought online for Ecuador to Brazil. They could only issue paper tickets to the address that my credit card is
linked to. So I had to find an address where I knew I would be in order to receive these. This was how I justified opting for a hotel. I
guess any excuse is a good one, right?

There was one priority I had to tend to today: getting my hair cut.

Ahhh, the amazing things $8 US will buy you out here. The guy did an excellent job and blew my hair out and I am just loving the
way it looks. Of course, this is in large part to me still having my ‘Chinese hair’. Damn, it rocks! I know that the time is going to
come, though, when my mane will need another bout of those Chinese chemicals. Trust me – I will be on that plane out to China
faster than anyone can say ‘Jen, is that a wave in your hair?’

While I was out wandering tonight I came across the Teatro Independencia. It was 9:00pm. There was an orchestra performing
there at 9:30pm. There were a few seats open. I felt I could benefit from getting a little bit cultured by the Argentinean musicians
so I bought a ticket. Ten pesos. In other words, $3 US. Probably the most inexpensive symphony I have ever gone to. The only
negative-side to going to this was that I was definitely underdressed. I tried to look presentable but all I had was a sundress while
everybody else was dressed in appropriate ‘theater’ attire. Believe me when I say that it is
definitely better to be overdressed in
situations. Oh well. What’s a traveler to do, ya know?

The music was beautiful and the highlight was a violinist that was a special performer (I could tell by the accolades he was getting
from the locals afterward). It’s amazing the sounds that can come from those instruments. For the first time, I think I was able to
truly appreciate the gift that these musicians have.

I did notice a difference at the end of the performance. Nobody moved. I was confused as to whether it was over or if it was just an
intermission. The musicians left the stage but I thought it was so that they could take a break. But then slowly I saw a few people
get up. Then a few more. And then some more. Okay. So it
was over. But such a change from at home when people can’t get to the
exit quick enough…

March 10, 2007

This morning I looked at my watch, even though I wasn’t yet ready to rise. Is that right??? My watch said 11:08am! I haven’t slept
that long in ages. How did this happen? I guess it comes with being in South America where everything happens later…and I guess
that includes the waking hours.

This just meant that my day out in the wine area of Maipú was going to be a bit shorter than planned. I wasn’t necessarily happy
about this.

Why book a tour when I can do things ‘local’ style? I hopped on the public bus and a lovely
Mendocino (as people from Mendoza are
called) told me where I was to get off. This was a good thing as I would have
never figured this out on my own as it was a lot smaller
than I was expecting.

could rent a bike out there and roam freely. But that is also assuming that one can ride a bike…

I would be at the mercy of my feet and the bus system. I should really start making a list of all of the times I have been snubbed of
doing things because of my parents paranoia about their kids learning to ride a bike due to living on a hill. Ughhh.

I visited a few wineries but one of the things that stands out the most in my memory was stumbling across a place that had a sign
that they offered tastings, wines and other products. I went onto the property. There they had a bell with a sign saying to ring it for
service. An adorable copper bell. How quaint. How charming. I rang the bell. I have to admit that I enjoyed it so much, I rang it
again. Somebody came out from the house next door and was now standing in front of me. I inquired about looking at the shop and
he got the key to open it up. Now a woman was there to help me. She was very sweet and I ended up buying some Malbec balsamic
vinegar that is made on the premises. Probably not the smartest thing to travel around with…but I wanted to buy
something from

At the next winery I went to, I ended up joining a tour group on their tour of the winery. It was fun doing the tastings with other
people. Two of them I actually recognized from my bus ride yesterday from Santiago as they also recognized me. They had to head
out to get to their next winery and I left, too, and headed into the town. I did one more tasting and then hopped on a bus to take me
back to Mendoza. All in all, a nice, relaxing day of tasting some Argentinean fermented grape juice. I can definitely think of worse
ways to spend a day!

My body clock has done a superb job adjusting to South American meal times. For example, it was 10:00pm when I decided to head
out to dinner. Embarrassingly enough, I was still the first person at the swanky little restaurant I opted for. I wasn’t sure if I picked
a place that wasn’t very popular despite its wonderful ambience. Nope. It was just that the Mendocinos apparently get hungry even
later than that. I left the restaurant paying $9 US for a filet wrapped in bacon with mushrooms and sweet potato chips and a glass
of wine (in case it wasn’t obvious, my ‘pescatarian’ phase ended on the Antarctica trip). On my way out, I passed by nothing but
filled tables. Okay. So my body still has a bit of progress to make before I go to dinner at a ‘cool’ time by Argentinean standards.
Hey…I’m getting there.

March 11, 2007

Since today was Sunday mostly everything in town was closed. This was okay with me as I declared it ‘mi dia tranquilo’. I moseyed
around the city.

I took a break from moseying and sat in the Plaza Independencia and was reading my book. ‘Mi dia tranquilo’ became interrupted
by some guy who sat on my bench and wanted to chat. At first I played the ‘No entiendo’ card. Then he said “English?” and I shook
my head. I just really wasn’t in the mood and I was getting into my book. It was clear that this was a ‘hitting on me’ thing and I just
wasn’t into it. Let’s face it. He was on the ‘feo’ side. He kept trying to talk to me and I just pointed to my book to hopefully get
across the hint that I just wanted to do my thing and read. He kept talking and talking. Finally I just got up and walked a few steps
away. Needless to say,
that got the point across. He delivered a big ‘f*&%ing b*tch’ as he stomped off. I didn’t mind this but the
poor older English couple who was sitting at the bench next to me let out a gasp has he said that. I was just sorry that their ears had
to hear such language. I told them it was no big deal. They told me that they noticed he was irritating me and that they were about
to come up to me to try to save me. What a lovely couple. They weren’t sure where I was from because ‘I didn’t sound American’.
Whoa! Is it bad that I thanked them for that comment? Not because I don’t want to be American…but because I have been working
a bit on softening my American accent. Apparently it has worked. They were still upset at what the guy said to me. I told them it
was no big deal though it was a first at being called such a thing…but at least my mission was accomplished as he ended up walking

So ‘mi dia tranquilo’ can now continue…
I relaxed by the pool. I enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea (which was more like an ‘evening tea’ since it was from 5:00-8:00pm and
served as my lunch and dinner) at the Park Hyatt that looks right onto the main square.

Not a bad day. Not a bad day at all.

In addition, I was actually able to be a bit productive. I booked myself a full-day trip to the spa and thermal pools at Termas
Cacheuta that is a bit outside of Mendoza for tomorrow. I also made my way down to the bus station so that I could secure my bus
ticket to Salta for Tuesday night.

Time for me to hit the sack. After all, I want to be well-rested so that I don’t sleep my time away at the spa/pools tomorrow. But
then again, would that really be
that bad???

March 12, 2007

Today was a wonderful day at Thermas Cacheuta. Talk about a great way to spend the day!

I came back and continued the wonderfulness by going to
Vines of Mendoza.

Tomorrow morning Naama comes into town. I will spend my last day here hanging out with her. Who really knows what we will end
up doing…

March 13, 2007

I was reunited with a friend today! Naama got into Mendoza this morning. The first thing she noticed was that I got my hair cut.
The second thing she noticed was my new hat. If my friends at home aren’t around to notice these things, at least my friends that I
have met in South America are. After Naama freshened up from her overnight bus ride we hit the town.

We ventured to a part of the city that I hadn’t yet been to that was sprinkled with great boutiques. It started with some window
shopping…but then it turned into just plain shopping. I ended up coming away with a skirt and a top. I would have come away with
more if it wasn’t for my incredible self-restraint and the fact that I have absolutely no more room left in my bags.

The day was basically just a lot of hanging out, checking out shops and catching up. We had our final hoorah at the Park Hyatt
sitting outside and looking out at the Plaza Independencia. This time when we say ‘good-bye’ it is going to be for good as we won’t
cross paths again on this trip.

In just a few minutes I head out to the bus station where I will catch my 16-hour bus ride up further north to Salta. I have yet to
see how a bus ride of this length will be without my ipod. At least I come stocked with a few books. In the words of Gloria Gaynor ‘I
will survive’…
Back to Argentina.
The main square in Maipú.
Cheers to Malbec!