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Sunday, 2 November 2008

Wine and Whales

20 hours on a bus and we arrived to Mendoza, one of Argentinas largest wine producing regions. We never actually saw the city because we were recovering from the previous night but the nearby village of Maipu (pronounced 'my poo' teehee...) provided us with an enjoyable days cycling and wine tasting. Flat treelined streets made for easy cycling and the locals are very tolerant of wobbling gringos making their way home in the afternoon (We didn't follow the swirl and spit rule of wine tasting). The day ended with the hospitality of 'Mr Hugo', the local bike rental man who enjoys spending the evening giving out lots of free wine and chatting to the tourists. What a lovely man!

We were sick of long buses after the 20 hour stint so decided against going further south and instead cut across the country to Puerto Madryn, a small seaside town with a Welsh heritage. its been a lovely few days of paddling in the sea, picnics in the sand dunes and eating chips from a paper cone as we walk the promenade. It's coming into spring here so the weather has been scorching, altogether charming!

The absolute highlight of our time here was the whale watching trip we took yesterday. This small corner of Argentina is home of the 'Southern Right whale'. They were named because their natural curiosity of boats and tendency to float once dead made them the 'right' whales to harpoon back in the golden days of whale fishery. We saw a mother and calf and a group of 5 whales mating (Males help each other chase the female, they then take turns and last one in's the winner! Their equipment can reach 2.5 metres in length... according to our guide "because they don't have hands and they're sliding around in the water, size matters"). Fascinating.
Another whale then swam right up to the boat and underneath it which really made the day. You can see Sian in the bright blue cardigan front right side of the boat.

Today we visited the Trelew dinosaur museum, loads of full reconstructed skeletons and an actual 130 million year old fossilised femur that you can touch! Only in South America...

Next stop is Buenos Aires for 9 days of debauchery and the end of our amazing year... very sad.

We're meeting up with a gang for drinks on Saturday 15th November. Tables booked in the Porterhouse on Nassau St for 8 or 9pm. All welcome to join us.

See you then folks!

S and D