Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy 5 days 5 provinces reached Mendoza but some dumb kid filled up the Sienna with diesel

Day 1. After leaving the warm waters of Termas de Rio Hondo for Cordoba, the drive took alot longer than expected. Half way we need to fuel up in some small town don't recall the name but when we drove up to the gas station. A young boy asked what kinda of fuel you need I say "gasoline", he tells me to pull up to the pump and he smells the fuel cap and starts to pump gas as its filling I ask again "gasoline correct?" he responded with a nod of the head. We pay and leave but less than a kilometer down the road the van just dies. I wave down the next passing car and it was a off duty officer, he gave me a ride into town to talk with the gas stations owner. When I arrived the owner knew right away even in my poor Spanish what I was explaining that the boy filled our car with the wrong fuel. The police officer was kind enough to drive me back and pull us to the station and we bought him the most expensive wine ($5 bucks) at the gas station for his troubles. The workers began draining the diesel from the bottom and after an hour filled it up with gasoline but the car wouldn't start after countless tries, I started to worry van might be damaged and we might be stuck in this shit town indefinitely. It was a Sunday so all the mechanics were closed, later the owner had me and the boy push the van to the tire shop 100 meters down the road. They bled out more fuel and made a contraption to pump fuel directly to the engine with only a rubber tub and a 2L coke bottle. After a few tries the van started with loud bang and loads of white smoke. After the 3 hour delay we back on the road and arrived late night in Cordoba city. We stopped at YPF to ask directions to the municipal campground and the worker was adamant we not stay there because it dangerous, he recommend us to spend the night in Villa Carlos Paz. Its about 30 minutes outside the city and we stayed at the only open campsite the ACA (auto club argentina) the worker charged us the members price $12 bucks for the night.

kinda reminded me of Las Vegas old strip 20 years ago
Day 2 Villa Carlos Paz, it was a cold nights sleep so we woke up early and visited the town. It was nice, clean and quite at this time of year as we biked around the low level river and explored the centre. After a few hours in town we decided to head back to Cordoba to see how bad the municipal campground was. After about 2 hours of searching (map location was wrong) we found the site and nobody was camping, only the gate man and plus the location was far from the centre and we both felt uneasy so left for the Bavarian town of Villa General Belgrano. We arrived in town just before dark and liked it right away. I've never been to Germany but I can imagine its similar because this town was founded by Germans in 1930's. Today its a touristy town for locals with great bakeries, restaurants, shops and microbreweries. We didn't spend the night because the campground was charging like $15 bucks. (mistake that was) We left that same night and spent the night a gas station just 30 minutes outside town, nice place with wifi and clean washrooms. 

Day 3 Early morning we're back on a long dirt road to the Villa de Merlo, don't know why we continue taking these roads. After 4 hours of rough gravel, uphill, and rattles we covered only 80 kms and reached the paved road towards town. The road was a steep down and curvy but the scenery turned from dusy dry desert to lush green valley. We found a municipal campsite just uphill from town at a whopping $23 usd, but we took it for night. After that long dirt road we had a hot shower, cooked lunch and checked our e-mail, that was one plus the campsite had wifi. Later that night too tired to cook we drove into town which is only one long main street we settled for pizza at a bar restaurant with the most people inside.

never had pizza with nuts before and don't think we will again
the look of satisfied
Day 4 Next day we had an late lunch and  and set out for the long drive to Mendoza, Argentina's wine capital. After 5 hours of driving we stopped off at a local Walmart in San Lois to pick up some supplies, we drove until the fuel light came on and stopped in La Paz to spend the night a GNC station we need gas but all they sold was natural gas but we spent the night because we didn't want to search for gas station in town at night. This GNC was ideal for truckers it had clean WC, showers and internet in the 24hr cafe that was very busy.

one of the best amenities gas stations to date

main gate to San Martin Park

antique shops in Plaza Pellegrini, popular for taking wedding photos
young couple posing for a photo in lovely Plaza Espana
Day 5 Arrived early in Mendoza city, not much of the old city remains today because in 1861 the city was leveled by a massive earthquake and now the current city is very easy to get around with its wide streets and sidewalks. It felt alot smaller than its population size would say, thats partly because most of the people live in the suburbs, giving the city a smaller feel than its sub 1 million residents. We found private camping in the huge park of San Martin that takes up half of the tourist map. We paid again $23 bucks a night but right in the city. We quickly got on our bikes and started to explore the park and found loads of people, walking, rollerblading and biking around the large man made river which even had people rowing in. After that we say the down town core had some icecream and bought some beef and wine and went back the campsite to call it a day. Next we are heading over to Pacific coast in Chile.

no day is complete in Mendoza without wine and BBQ
lunch at one of the posher suburb towns Chacras de Coria