Thursday, January 11, 2007

Argentina Part 3

Juli finally got a good night´s sleep, all it took was us to get a seat on an overnight bus in Argentina...seriously, the seat was more comfortable than just about every bed we´ve slept in thus far (and the Tylenol PM stash she has been carrying helped out too). Our bus delivered us to Mendoza, Argentine wine country, where we quickly scrambled to find a hostel before leaving the safety of the bus station and heading out for a self-guided bike tour of several wineries. No accidents were reported, but Juli did beat Todd in a race to one of the last wineries..Juli must have more drunk biking experience, depsite Todd´s years at UC Davis. The following day we were onto white/brown water rafting, where luckily we were assigned to the 'English speakers' raft which was guided by a Frenchman (the only one of the three rafts that did not tip over during the two hour trip down river). The water was moving so fast we could hear the rocks beneath the river tumbling down, sounded a lot like a thunderstorm happening beneath our boat! On a lazy Sunday we went to the park and the zoo, where the bears are well trained to stand for pictures if you have food, which you can pretty much hand to them in their cages, they are so close to you. We chose not to feed the bears, or the monkeys, or the pumas, just ourselves with a dinner and tango show. The show was great but neither of us was willing to accept invitations to the dance floor. Guess we did not watch enough of Dancing with the Stars to feel comfortable, though Todd is not planning to record the show on his Tivo anytime soon anyway.

After a brief three hour layover in Buenos Aires, where we visited a famous cemetary and a famous empanada joint (guess which one we liked better?), we jumped on another plane to El Calafate, in the very south of the country (Patagonia). Instead of falling water or white water, here it´s all about frozen water...watching glaciers melt - hopefully in giant chunks of ice that fall into the water (glacial calving). It´s pretty impressive, but hard to explain or to take pictures of because it happens so fast (but it does happen pretty frequently, about once every 15 minutes). You can get pretty close to the glacier´s edge on a boat, or on viewing platforms where signs casually mention that 32 people were killed between 1930 - 1980 from flying chunks of ice. But the most interesting thing we´ve done thus far was to hike all over the top of the glacier, crampons and all, for about four hours to see the interior - crevasses, ponds, and waterfalls that dissappear into the depths of the ice. The changing weather and our very thin pairs of pants (we each only brought one pair) made it kind of rough, but the guides were great and kept our group of nine going. Luckily, we all stayed on our feet, even across the balance-beam like portions of our hike, and the guides did not have to haul anybody out of trouble by our harnesses.

Although this town is kind of a one-trick pony, we´ve still been having fun under the midnight sun, enjoying more Argentinean steak, attempting to watch pirated movies in bars (audio completely unintelligible, but Spanish subtitles were helpful), and meeting folks from all over the world here in this pretty remote part of it. With two days left, we are heading back to Buenos Aires for some real nightlife, good sleep, and of course more beef and empanadas. We´ll send one more update on our return with some of the best pics.

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