|That's me climbing into a concrete casket that used to make white wine.|
This leg of the journey begins in Mendoza, Argentina, which is the wine region of the country. The area, as we learned on our walking tour of the city, used to be a desert, but you would never guess that now. The city is full of trees and greenery that were brought in from around the country. There is a huge park, lots of shaded plazas, and off in the distance you can see the Andes mountains.
Our time in Mendoza was also spent taking a great biking tour in the town of Maipu (the name still doesn't cease to stir up some giggles). Many of the vineyards are actually located there, and we enjoyed the day sampling different wines & olive oils, meeting new people, and eating a delicious lunch at one of the only truly organic wineries in the country.
On Easter Sunday we took a 6-hour busride back to Santiago. As you may recall in an earlier post we had basically done this route before, but let me tell you, it is quite different during the day when you can actually see outside because the winds are windy, not to mention there aren't any guardrails. Traveling around South America by bus is not for the faint of heart:
Thankfully we passed through with no problems, and before we knew it we were back in Santiago for a couple days before heading north to Peru. Initially our plan had been to fly from Santiago to Lima, but despite the countries being right next to each other the flights are prohibitively expensive. Instead, we opted to take a the less expensive and scenic (and also more complicated) route. On Tuesday morning we woke up at 5:00 am to catch our 7:30 flight to the northern most part of Chile, to the town of Arica. From there we had to fend of the taxi cab drivers in favor of the less expensive van to the international bus station. While waiting for the van to depart, we saw the entire Chilean national futbol team (professional team sighting #2 of the trip) who had just arrived at the airport. Pretty cool, even if we didn't know anything about them.
At the bus station we found a colectivo going to Peru. We were a tad nervous about being ripped off, as we had read stories in travel forums of drivers not letting you cross until you paid them $100 for a "visa" (which we don't need to get into Peru--yay, no more reciprocity fees for the rest of the trip!). Thankfully we crossed the border with no problem--it was actually very well organized, simple, and super quick. And we gained two hours in the day, since for some reason, despite being directly north of Chile, Peru is two hours behind.
We then arrived Tacna, Peru, our final destination for the day. We treated ourselves to a gourmet lunch, which was one of the best meals of the trip, and much cheaper than the equivalent would have cost at home. FYI, Peruvian food is AWESOME. As much as we loved eating tons of grilled meat in Buenos Aires, as Sam mentioned in the post about the Argentine Experience, Argentines like their food rather bland, whereas the Peruvians like a lot of flavor (and apparently a lot of salt as we learned in our Peruvian cooking class, but more on that in a bit). Anyway, after a full day of travel we were looking forward to crashing early. Unfortunately there was a crowd of Peruvian futbol fans forming right underneath our window, cheering very loudly for their team, as the big game against Chile was the following evening. The next day we found out why they were partying there--the Peruvian national team was staying at the same hotel as us, and we saw a few of the players at breakfast (professional team sighting #3).
|Plating my cause de atun|
|2012.4 Mendoza, Chile|
|2012.4 Tacna, Peru|
|2012.4 Arequipa, Peru|