The first words out of Paul’s mouth as soon as they panned to the Argentine sideline the morning of this game were, “Oh, it looks like Maradona got a haircut.”
We were in Chicago and made the stupid mistake of deciding to watch the second half of the game in the cafe on the first floor of our hotel instead of in our room. So we take the elevator down, me with my blue and white striped cast blazing openly, and walk in to a big room…full of Germans. Most with face paint. I get booed all the way to my standing-room-only corner, where I spent the next 45 minutes listening to “JAH JAH JAH JAH JAH!!!!!” and German songs while Argentina completely lost it. I exited the room at the end of the game to a chorus of “Auf wiedersehen!”s.
Barriloche: a town at the base of the Andes famous for its chocolates, skiing, and gnomes
A tango show
The Pampas: home of the Gauchos, rodeos…things like that
Tierra Santa: a biblical theme park complete with live musical numbers depicting important scenes from the Bible, the “biggest manger in the world” surrounded by over 100 life-sized talking figures, and a 60 foot Jesus Christ from whose crown you can see all of Buenos Aires. Missing this was particularly disappointing.
And, of course, our entire trip to Peru, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley
I have a minor Eva Peron obsession, so this was an important stop. It’s a small museum with some of her clothing (she is kind of Argentina’s Jackie O) and footage of her with her descamisados and giving speeches from the balcony of the Casa Rosada. It even has a gift shop complete with Eva Peron rubix cubes. Next stop…
Cold and rainy? Only have one functioning arm? I DON’T CARE! This ice cream place was recommended by multiple people and it was FANTASTIC! They even deliver styrofoam cartons of it via scooter. Awesome.
Diego Maradona. Cheerleader, genius, demi-god, petulant child, garden gnome…call him what you will, the Argentine coach has been my favorite part of the World Cup this year. And as much as I totally love his antics and his incredible array of accessories (the salt and pepper beard, diamond earrings, gold chain, designer watches on both wrists, rosary beads), the element of Maradona that most captures his spirit and the soul of the Argentine team has been, in my opinion, his mullet. It frizzes when the team is struggling, curls and gains shape and volume when they gain a solid lead… Paul is convinced it holds the secret to Argentina’s success so far in the tournament, the modern day equivalent of Samson’s hair. Let’s hope Maradona thinks the same, because if he just lets this keep growing it is going to be awesomely large by the last game.
So, I have to fly home for surgery. We leave tonight. Machu is off, I am trying to squeeze in as many of the things on our list of things to do before leaving. Our flight is at 8:30 tonight, fortunately the game is at 3:30, so we’ll make it.
Guess who recently lost her super thorough health plan when she left her job, decided to travel out of the country on her honeymoon, went for a run on said honeymoon, tripped on her OWN PANTS, broke her elbow, needs surgery (involving a screw), and may or may not actually go on the trip she won/almost lost/won again to Machu Picchu. One guess.
So, after mixed messages regarding our arrival time (the bus schedule said the trip was 16 hours, which would have put us in at 10am,which is what I believed to be true; the lady at the bus station said we would get in at 6am, making the trip only 11 hours, which I didn’t buy at all; and the dude at the front of the bus when we were boarding said we would get in around noon, which would make the ride about 18 hours, which I feared would be true…and which made the 5am breakfast service all the more infuriating) we actually arrived in Mendoza at 6:45am. And the sun doesn’t come up until 8:30. So we took a loooong time getting coffee at the bus station, to avoid having to walk anywhere in the dark. We finally got a taxi to the hostel area, and after visiting a few hostels (one that wouldn’t let us in, another that told us we would have to come back at 2), we found a place that let us in, fed us breakfast, and let us store our bags until our room was ready.
Since Argentina’s 3rd World Cup game was on Tuesday, we decided to check out Maipu on Monday (Flag Day here in Argentina) and save Tuesday for local exploration and the game. We took a 15 minute taxi ride to Maipu and got dropped off at a house, from which a family rented bikes and served us wine (the sign said: Free Wine ONLY for Customers). We hopped on our bikes (and I put on a completely gross lightning-transformer design helmet…Mom…) and headed out.
Our first stop was the wine museum, which came with a free tasting.
For our second stop we headed across town to an olive oil farm, the furthest location on our map (about 12km away). The ride through town was kind of ghetto, I was minorly concerned.
Soon enough we hit some roads with a little less traffic and some really nice views of the snow-covered Andes over some (dry) vineyards. We arrived at the olive oil farm (if that’s even the right word) and had a short tour, tasted some olive paste and oil, and headed across the street to a winery.
This next vineyard was owned by a French couple from Toulousse who, upon retiring, decided to buy an old vineyard in Argentina and start making wine…which neither had any experience in. They seemed to have figured it out, though, because the stuff we tasted was pretty delicious. From there we headed down the road to another place that made only flavored liquores (including grapefruit, chocolate hazelnut, and tobacco) and chocolates.
Aside from our seats folding completely flat (which was awesome) and the full alcohol service, bus ride #2 was pretty similar to #1. Replace the full volume Ruta 66 concert with a 2010 BeeGees concert at the MGM Grand, Mision Explosiva with Death Race, and the 3am military searches with a 5am breakfast service (which was particularly confusing for Jesus and Brandan, who generally don’t get home from the bars until 7am), and you have bus ride #2. Oh, one difference: the toilets on bus ride #2 could only take liquids, not solids. But if it was an emergency, they were willing to pull the bus over just for you.