Dial M for Mendoza y Madness

Sometimes I wonder if I’m losing my mind; going mad. I wonder if it’s due to all of the changes that are inherent to travel. So many numbers to keep track of – dates, times, Uruguay pesos, Argentine pesos, where were we when, and where and when we are going. Buying tickets in advance and keeping track of where they live in my bag or backpack and which backpack. Here is an instance of when I truly felt like a dolt: this morning I ran the cold water faucet in the shower waiting and waiting for hot water. I lost track of whether it’s the left or the right spigot!

We arrived in Mendoza yesterday morning around 10 am after an overnight bus ride from Buenos Aires which we arrived in from Montevideo around 2, I think. Our bus left BA for Mendoza at 8:40 pm so we had some time to fritter away. We knew that the first thing we wanted to do was to return to Cafe Negro for an extra special filtrado coffee. We had stopped in there on the 28th January on our way to the ferry to Montevideo. We sat at the counter. I watched the barista prepare a coffee with such care and attention. She ground a bit of coffee; swirled it; inspected it; tossed it. Then she ground a bit more and performed the same ritual. The third grind proved to be just what she wanted. Next steps: slowly pour water over the filter; add ground coffee; diligently pour water over the coffee, wafting steam to nose to assure proper aroma is being created.

I mentioned to her that I was impressed with the care she took. She proudly proclaimed that she was a proper barista, studied coffee, and as this was her job, she was going to do it right.

So, into Cafe Negro for a properly prepared filtrado. And yes, it was the smoothest, richest cup of black coffee I’ve ever had.

The bus ride passed uneventfully and pretty quickly for a 13 hour trip. Overnight helped. 180 degree reclining seats with pillow and blanket helped. Wine with dinner helped. It felt like being on an international flight, right down to the pork and potato hot dinner in a tinfoil try, only more comfortable.

We’ve had a couple of days of wandering without accomplishing much, being thwarted in our intentions. Yesterday, our walk to Cerro de la Glorieta in General San Martin park to watch sunset from that high point was a bust. We thought we had plenty of time to meander through that beautiful park and make it to the top, but no. And we were hoofing it. It’s a lot further than google let on – trickster google. The park is enormous with trails and roads and water and grassy areas. Hordes were out en masse running. Families sat in the grass. Bicyclists zoomed up and down the road to the Cerro, as did buses and cars. I had thought the hike would be on a trail. Maybe we took a wrong turn.  Here’s a few pics of the park.img_20190205_190804122_hdr6644063857233617881.jpgimg_20190205_1905460238762615258049558361.jpg20190205_200142The above tree is a sauce (sa-u-say), weeping willow, the national tree of Argentina.

We walked so much yesterday that I developed heat rash on my legs. This is a new and unwelcome part of being in my sixties I think. I got it a few times hiking the camino, too. Madenning – Madning – Maddening … How do you spell that word?

Today. Oof. A lost afternoon in Maipu. Lessons learned on travel and not trusting blog post data. Go to this road. Hop on this bus number. Get off and rent bikes. It sounded so straight forward. That bus number never came. A bus saying Maipu did come so on we jumped. It took forever. We got off in this desolate mad town of Maipu. Stores closed up. No cafes around. Any small shops that were open would only talk to you through a small opening. After finally getting some info as to where the tourist office was located we headed there. More info on where to go, what bus to take to the Gutierrez train station to rent bikes. Listening intently to rapid Spanish; getting clarification – trying to. Make it to the bus stop and all the buses going by do not have the numbers we were given. Nor do they match any of the numbers listed at the bus stop. Finally, a bus comes round with a Gutierrez sign, but not the number. In we go. By now it’s way to late to think about renting bikes. It’s 3 and the wineries close at 6 and they are about 5 miles away. So, back to Mendoza where we immediately headed to a gelato shop to soothe our cranky selves.

We did see some stately old buildings on our mad Maipu jaunt, former homes of wine barons.


I have to say that Charlie and I maneuvered through this rather difficult stretch with aplomb. I mean, the outing was a bust. And that’s why people sign up for tours. Yet, there’s something about finding – and losing – and finding your own way. There’s something about stopping and talking to people to get help in finding your way. There’s something about being in partnership and finding patience and understanding in a messed up marathon of trying to get somewhere. It was like a bad dream, when you need to run, but your legs are leaden.

And now we know exactly what to do, where to go, and the best time. Tomorrow we try again! We are akin to the Argentine symbol: hands clasped in unity; sun rising over a new day; the Phrygian cap of the liberated upon our heads. Okay, we don’t have Phrygian caps.


Mendoza is an oasis of green and water in an arid climate. Acequias run throughout the city providing water to the parks, the trees, the fountains. I read that it’s glacial run off from the Andes.


The next two photos were taken from the 14th floor of a hotel terrace. Way better than the Cerro de la Glorieta. Easier to get to and cocktails!20190206_19310120190206_193142.jpg

Since when does “playa” mean parking garage? And how did avocados become “paltos”? Squid rings are “rabas.” There’s a whole new vocabulary to enrich my store.


As the sun sets behind the Andes, the clouds light up.


Are you wondering about Phrygian caps? Here’s the wikipedia entry:

Head of Attis wearing a Phrygian cap (Parian marble, 2nd century AD).

The Phrygian cap or liberty cap is a soft conical cap with the apex bent over, associated in antiquity with several peoples in Eastern Europe and Anatolia, including Phrygia, Dacia, and the Balkans. In early modern Europe it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty through a confusion with the pileus, the felt cap of manumitted (emancipated) slaves of ancient Rome. In artistic representations it signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.

It is used in the coat of arms of certain republics or of republican state institutions in the place where otherwise a crown would be used (in the heraldry of monarchies). It thus came to be identified as a symbol of the republican form of government. A number of national personifications, in particular France’s Marianne, are commonly depicted wearing the Phrygian cap.


It reminds me of the beanies that are so popular with young people nowadays.Image result for beanie skull cap

And by the way – the Smurfs are wearing Phrygian caps! Image result for smurf phrygian cap


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