menos sol, más vino.

they say mendoza is the tierra del sol y buen vino, the land of sun and good wine. although the moments of sunshine were few and far between this week, mendoza definitely still delivered on the good wine part of its namesake. i have yet to figure out where the sun went the one week of the year my parents decided to come to town. but it could have been a lot worse. it could have been much worse. less sun than usual? no problems here, we made up for the lack of rays with an abundance of malbec.

keeping with the alphabet theme. here goes nothing. e is for…

emociones. yes, for you non-spanish speakers, it’s what we like to call a cognate. a word that sounds similar in both languages. emotions. what a rollercoaster of a week it has been in terms of these bad boys. here’s how i’ve been feeling lately. i apologize ahead of time for the assured sappiness of this entry. remember, rollercoaster.

monday 11.14ansiosa [anxious] knowing that my parents were to be arriving the next afternoon, i spent all day monday nervous about the week that i had planned for them. would they like what i had planned? am i missing anything? how can i be the best host to the two people who have raised me for the past 2o years. will they like it here? its supposed to rain all week, i sure hope to god it doesn’t. didn’t sleep well monday night and woke up at 8am tuesday morning thankful the night was over and my parents were actually on their way.

tuesday 11.15alegre [joyful]. my parents arrived tuesday afternoon. susy and i went together to pick them up from the airport.  yes, skype works wonders. there is nothing better, though, than a familiar hug from your parents.

wednesday 11.16dudosa [doubtful]. clouds, wind, rain. lousy weather. the forecast looks like this for the rest of the week. a majority of the plans i had made involved the outdoors. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? type a personality syndrome really killed my spirits this day. we also spent a few morning hours and a few post siesta hours walking along las heras looking for the ‘perfect’ mate (mah-tay, not meight) for my parents. didn’t think we were ever going to find it. 7 hours later, we did.

thursday 11.17energizada [energized] kayaking in the tranquil lake in portrerillos and ziplining in the pre-cordilleras of the andes? crossing the river UPSIDE down on the last zipline? WONDERFUL. i think we all felt like we could take on the world.

friday 11.18entretenida [entertained]. friday morning we got up and headed to maipú to do a biking tour of the camino de vinos. a set of at least a few dozen vineyards and wineries, mapiú is famous for its bike and wine tours. we rented bikes from mr. hugo, a large friendly man who has established himself among the tourist crowd. we set out by about 10.30am and by 6pm had made it to about a half a dozen of these bodegas. a couple of tours, a few wine tastings, a wonderful lunch among the vines, and a good 20 or so kilometers on bicycle, we had an entertaining day to say the least. we met a bunch of interesting people from all around the world, tried some wonderful wines, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the argentine vineyards.

saturday 11.19agradecida [thankful]. saturday afternoon we rented a car and headed about an hour and a half south to luján de cuyo, a department within the province of mendoza. i booked my parents and i a night at a posada (cabin like getaway) at the beautiful bodega salentein. it was so nice to get away from the hustle of the city, the craziness of my host-family’s house, and be able to fully relax. saturday evening we were able to go on a horseback ride at sunset through the vineyards and a walnut farm. later that night, we were served a delicious four course meal that had been paired with a few of the bodega’s own wines. i walked around our place in a robe, slept like a princess in a comfortable bed, and woke up more relaxed and more content that i’ve felt in the past four months. the next morning we got up, had a wonderful breakfast again in the posada’s restaurant with a view of a beautiful part of the vineyard, and then headed back down to the main part of the bodega for a tour of the actual production part of the vineyard. what a wonderful experience.

*also saturday, i realized how incredibly thankful i am for the (somewhat) sane parents i have. my parents, susy and i went to the grocery store on saturday morning to pick up a few things for the asado (barbecue) we were planning on having for my parents sunday afternoon. susy was running around the store, leaving her cart here and there, picking up items, losing her cart, asking me to help her find it, and asking the store clerks to comply with her impossibly requests. after we had finished our shopping, i found susy and asked her if she was ready to check out. she said yes. we got in line. she put her cart in line and went back into the store to pick up a few more things. the closer her unoccupied cart got to the front of the line, the more nervous i got. i knew that if she didn’t make it back in time and if someone would have moved her cart off to the side, she would have made a big deal about it. couldn’t wait to prove to my parents the fact that i have been living with a crazy for the past few months. well, i was right. she didn’t get back before her cart got to the front of the line. and she made a big deal about it when she did get back. my parents and i had a good laugh about that one from a couple of aisles away.

sunday 11.20abrumada y frustrada [overwhelmed and frustrated]. sunday was an incredibly overwhelming day. during our tour at salentein it started pouring. the beginning of our drive home was the same way. we got home around two in the afternoon and i was overwhelming happy to see that susy had almost everything ready for the asado. the table was set, the meat was just about done cooking, her homemade empanadas smelt wonderful and looked perfect. all that was missing was my friends, my parents, and a couple of susy’s friends. everyone arrived around 2.30 and we started serving the meat – blood sausage, ribs, some sort of gland, and any other part of a cow you could possibly think of. nothing like exposing your parents to the local culture than through a little gastronomic adventure. it was so good for my parents to meet my friends, a couple of susy’s friends, and get a little glimpse into the things i’ve come to love about argentine culture. the frustration didn’t set in until susy’s friend insisted on taking us on a drive into the mountains. having not done anything all week, i actually needed to sit down and prep for an oral presentation, and just relax a little after a jam-packed week. my parents, too, wanted to get back to their hotel, pack up their stuff, and just relax a little bit as well. after what turned into an hour and a half journey around town into the foothills of the andes, and an insistent invitation for tea, what would have been another 2 hour commitment, at least, i was more than frustrated with susy’s persistence. the tears, of course, started streaming. so, with my parents who were just as frustrated, i hid in my room, trying to avoid having to explain through my tears why we didn’t want to sit down for afternoon tea. its nothing personal, susy, i promise, it’s just we’ve been here since 2pm, it’s now 9pm and we’ve had enough. ugh.

monday 11.21 triste [sad]. i would have loved it if my parents could have stayed just a few more days. there is so much to see and do in this wonderful country, we could have traveled around for months. and even though our time together was short, it sure was nice though to have them in town, to be able to have adult conversations in my own language over numerous bottles of wine, and to be able to share with them the life i’ve been living in mendoza this semester. just a few more finals, a trip to uruguay and some time in buenos aires and before i know it, i’ll be home in mn, curled up on the couch under a blanket, packing up my room to move into my new house, and preparing for the first day of the winter quarter back in denver. i’m torn. HOME sounds wonderful.  however, this experience has been the best 5 months of my life. even just in these past couple weeks, i’ve re-encountered my love for this city, this country and its people MULTIPLE times. i don’t know how i’m going to live without it. 

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d is for…

diario uno. i learned a very interesting fact in my social control and violence class this week that really left me thinking. diario uno, one of mendoza’s five news sources , in comparison to the rest of the news sources in mendoza presents the highest number of stories regarding the insecurity and lack of safety in this country. what that means, for example, is that they publish, more than any of the other news sources, stories about robbery, burglary, murder, etc.

what is incredibly interesting about this fact is that the owners of diario uno are also the owners of at least one private, gated and guarded neighborhoods in town. they are also the owners of a private security company that provides home of neighboorhood vigilance.

interesting, no? tell people A LOT about the insecurity of this town (which is, by the way, a lot more secure that any local will ever tell you), get them to, in response to fear, purchase a home in a private neighborhood or hire private vigilance for their protection. sounds like one big business cycle scam if you ask me.

foto del día – 11.9.11

yesterday afternoon at about 7pm i received a message from one of the IFSA program staff warning us about the zonda alert that had been put on the city of mendoza. the last time the zonda came to town, i really didn’t think it was that bad, i thought the locals were just overreacting and looking for an excuse to cancel class or the couple hours of post-siesta work. well, i will admit, i was wrong. the zonda is terrible. i was making my way downtown yesterday afternoon when dust started flying around and creating tornado like clouds on the streets and sidewalks, leaves and small branches started falling from the trees, and the entire trolley system shut down around town. i actually understood why carlos had insisted that we try to stay inside and that if we go outside we should be careful for cables and trees. i arrived and my destination eyes full of dirt, mouth full of little particles, and my nose filled with nasties. everyone was miserable. since i was inside most of the night away from the windows where i could have watched the zonda take over the city, i didn’t really understand how truly bad this week’s version of the zonda was until i got home late last night and noticed a large tree had been uprooted across the street from my house. a LARGE tree. just lifted right out of the ground. that’s how bad the zonda was.

didn’t believe me when i said the zonda was bad? well here are  a couple pictures to prove it.

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foto del día – 11.7.11

my beautiful friend shelby and i hiking the the valle grande of san rafael, mendoza province, argentina.

this weekend we went on a IFSA sponsored excursion. highlights included: staying in beautiful cabins in the valley, swimming in the man-made lake, nighttime mafia games, trekking through the valle grande and learning about the geography of the area, running down the sand dunes, rafting down the río atuel, constantly eating, and last but not least having a broken down bus along the highway in the middle of nowhere as the sun is setting and a storm is approaching.

foto del día – 10.22.11

SANTIAGO POLICE: authentic authority.

During our short trip to Chile, I couldn’t help but notice the positive presence of the Chilean police for, or the Carabineros. The Chileans are incredibly proud (rightfully so) of their local police force and actually respect their authority. With their incredibly sharp uniforms, their smiles and kind welcomes to us tourists, their well groomed and not to mention beautifully bred canine force, and their incredible mounted force atop impeccable horses, the Carabineros area hard force to disrespect.

MENDOZA POLICE: pathetically present.

What a change from Mendoza. Not that I’ve ever felt incredibly unsafe here, I’ve just never felt like I could approach a police officer to ask for directions, something I feel like you should be able to do with any police authority. Although they drive around at all hours of the day with their lights flashing, I’ve never seen them pull over one car. I’ve never really noticed them around Aristides on the weekends, despite the thousands of people that are celebrating the arrival of the gorgeous weather. One thing they do for sure, however, is stare and turn their heads as I stand at the bus stop clearly not from these parts. And occasionally as I walk home from the grocery store in the dark, they slow down and drive next to me until I reach my door. I never know whether to feel protected or scared for my life. No police on horses here. And the dogs? Stray street dogs who just follow the officers around. Lets just say our canine force is not about to stop any crime.

foto del día – 10.16.11

Spring is in full swing here in Mendoza. Flowers all around are blooming like crazy. The walls of our backyard are completely covered in bright green leaves, the bouganvilla plant in the front yard is getting massive. It just feels more like Spring around here and I’m loving it. Its getting hotter. That I don’t love so much. The desert climate makes it extremely warm during the day but brings the temperature down quite a bit at night still. I’m still learning how to dress properly for my sometimes twelve hour days away from home.

Here’s a little glimpse at how much things have changed here in the past month or so! Same bodega, clearly a different season.

foto del día – 9.18.11

It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve posted anything. I promise I’m working on something. For now, here is a photo of Susy and I last night at Drácula; the Buenos Aires based production was performing here in Mendoza this weekend and Susy invited me along!

edit//for those of you keeping tabs on my blog: we parked in a playa last night. how much did we pay? 18 pesos. lets just say i had a nice little chuckle.