A desert (puna) vignette – life out here

A vignette from the past few days:

Coffee by a thorn tree

The hot oven-dry wind plasters my shirt to my shoulders as I sit in the sparse freckled shade of a lone thorn tree watching the mercury-silver shimmer of the road twenty meters away.  On the other side of the gravel is a cinderblock hut, roof of plastic sheeting held by logs and rocks, a small wooden door, more propped than hung, in the doorway. Behind the hut is the white-bleached sky the sand wash of a desiccated riverbed, and corral of twisted sticks. Continue reading “A desert (puna) vignette – life out here”

Mendoza and around (part 3)

Given my inability to keep track of what day it is, I miscalculated and set off for Mendoza a day early. Happily that gave us the luxury of (even more) time. As we were hungry, and as it was: nearly our last day for a while, nearly valentines and nearly three months on the road, I suggested spontaneous lunch at a vineyard. Happily the next one we passed was the award winning Septima Continue reading “Mendoza and around (part 3)”

Mendoza and around (part 2)

A handful of notes to bring us up to speed (now I have wifi)

The sign, after careful translation read:

In the event of seeing a puma:

  • Gather your children together
  • Shout and wave your arms
  • Do not run
  • Tell a ranger as soon as possible

It is with these wise words forefront of mind that I set off for a run to the observatory and back, at dusk. Continue reading “Mendoza and around (part 2)”

The most precious thing

First of all a disclaimer. This is being written in Mendoza, after a four course lunch with paired wines where I have had to consume most of the wines (one of the small perks of having your drivers license stolen and technically not being able to drive).

Now, to the chase. A lot of friends and family ask me how we are doing, what we are up to etc. But one of our dearest colleagues asked me the killer question. “What is the most precious thing you’ve learnt so far?”. Boom. 

So, Claudia Woah-Shea this is for you (as Andy always refers to you as). 

The most precious thing i have learned is that planning is not the be all and end all. For those of you who know me, you know that I like boxes, and organisation, and lists and bullet points. For those of you who know Andy you are probably thinking “how has she not killed him yet?”  

Ain’t gonna lie to you. It’s been close. Like the time he suggested a 35k detour down a horrible gravel road to get to Villa Traful. But then that ended up being one of the nicest locations on our trip. Or the time he suggested a winery lunch. Which brought us at the most award winning winery in Mendoza. 

The most precious thing I’ve learned is that I need a broad directional plan. I don’t to have a detailed military expedition outlining every stop for the next 10days. Because the fun stuff, the stuff that take centre stage in my short list of favourite things we’ve done so far were not on any detailed plan. 

To paraphrase one of the most famous Greek poems, it’s about the journey not the destination. And to be more precise 

“As you set out to Ithaka, 

Hope the voyage is a long none, 

Full of adventure full of discovery.” 

…and further down… 

” And if you find her poor, Ithaka will not have fooled you. 

Wise as you have become, so full of experience, 

You will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean” 

Full poem here 

Mendoza and around (part 1)

View of Aconcagua from the bottom of the trail to base camp

We arrived in Mendoza on Sunday afternoon. The sky was grey, filled with heavy clouds and the Andes were nowhere to be seen.

Getting into cities is always a stress, more so now. Where do we park? Is there a hostel with secure parking where we can possibly stay in Gellan but use their facilities? A thorough review of iOverlander and a look through the guide book – the answer is no. We do manage to find a parking lot in Plaza Independencia which has a small (and filthy) bathroom and which will let us stay for the night for the “bargain” price of 300ARG. We are being robbed but there’s no alternative.

Continue reading “Mendoza and around (part 1)”

“This is bonkers” and “FFS” 

We left pristine and tidy San Martin to head to Mendoza a couple of days ago. The total drive is 1400km on so once again we arm ourselves with fresh music and podcasts and we set off. On a whim we decided not to take Routa 40, the national highway that runs parallel to the Argentine – Chilean border, but rather take Routa 23 and explore the Mapuche villages on the foots of the Andes…

Continue reading ““This is bonkers” and “FFS” “