Ahh Mendoza. Malbec, steak, olive oil and endless, rolling hills of scenic views of the Andes.
I wouldn’t know — I spend 5 days in Mendoza city which is, let me tell you, not nearly as cool as the surrounding countryside, villas, estancias or wineries. Such is the price I choose to pay while working during my travelling (instead of travelling to be on vacation). That being said I still had a really fun, adventurous time looking at stuff. My typical modus operandi when landing in a new place involves “hey I wonder what thing on the map is. I better go look at it.” I’ll get side tracked four or five times, probably lost and hungry. Eventually I’ll get to the destination either to be underwhelmed or excited about something else to venture to.
I also end up discovering and solving a lot of micro mysteries. I think of them as micro mysteries because they are insignificant and only really mysteries to someone such as myself who has no idea what is going on or why something is happening. Para exemplo : “Why is there a line 100 people long outside of this store that looks sort of like a tiny Walmart?” I noticed three different stores where this was happening. What is going on? Answer: school is starting! The beginning of march coincides with the end of south american summer — it also coincides with the start of school.
Another micro mystery: “Why are hundreds of women marching down the main street clapping their hands?” upon inspection they were protesting something to do with women’s rights or something to do with injustice done to two women depicted on signs being carried.
Another micro mystery: “Why am I being awoken at 3 am by street workers constructing something metallic and clangy?” This one I was proud to solve without even opening my eyes. I felt sort of like a lazy Sherlock Holmes. I correctly surmised that what I was hearing was the erection of scaffolding for bleachers in the street beneath my window in preparation for the forthcoming parade to celebrate the Mendoza harvest festival in two days time. I’m especially proud of correctly predicting this because I only knew of the festival from the in-flight airline magazine I glanced at on my flight from Córdoba, and then my Airbnb host had mentioned it to me (in Spanish). Those two foreshadows made that micro mystery extra fun to solve.
Needless to say it’s easy to be engaged while travelling abroad. And I guess those are some of my favorite aspects of travel; not researching dozens of books or knowledge sources beforehand but hitting the ground and building a conceptualization of a place, people and culture from the bottom up. It is exercise for observation that is transferable in other aspects of life. Empathy is best directed by direct observation I think.
As for more about Mendoza itself — well I stayed in a wonderful Airbnb three bedroom apartment — on the roof floor of an old building on the main drag of downtown Mendoza constructed in what I imagine to be the early 20th century. Not a typical abode but rented out in some fashion by the tourist organization of Mendoza itself to visitors like me. This was fun in itself as I was able to use the archaic elevator that felt like it predated the Empire State Building by a number of decades as well as having a glorious, expansive roof top open and available to explore.
During the day I worked from the apartment, drinking tons of yerba mate (I’m addicted) and venturing out for lunch to a restaurant within a 20 minute walking radius. I’d return to work more and then head out around 8 or 9 for cena. Not many people can travel to Mendoza for 5 days so I feel fortunate. Also happy that I can come back and do the touristy wine tasting circuit if I return again.