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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ARGENTINA: THE BEST LAID PLANS...

WED. NOV 29/06

Okay..the best laid plans...We got up early this morning planning a day trip to the Andes to see Puente del Inca, which is four hours from here. It´s a natural geological formation called "Bridge of the Incas" because they believe this was the farthest point south in the Andes that the Inca people migrated.

Unfortunatey, our plans went astray when (1) we couldn´t flag a cab. (2) the bus driver said he was going to the terminal when in fact he wasn´t, and we ended up in an entirely different direction out in the suburbs of Goday Cruz. We had no idea where in heck we were or how to get back and furthermore had no change for the bus and couldn´t find a shop to provide us with any. This is an on going hassle here - nobody has coins. Patrick said probably the reason we´ve not seen any beggars is that nobody has change to give them. (Eventually, later that morning, we went to a bank to change some bills and even the bank was short of change.) It reminded me of what it was like Greece during the ´80´s - nobody could provide change ( a good way of overcharging) and consequently I recall sneaking lots of rides on trolleys with less than required for the fares. Anyway, we eventually got back into town (the driver let us on with what coins we had) and we decided to go for a walk to the big Central Park of Mendoza - San Martin Park.

We had actually had pased right by it on the bus returning to Mendoza but didn´t get off, so we had to walk about 10 blocks or more back, however it offered an opportunity to explore some differet areas of the city including the posh residential area bordering the park.

San Martin Park was designed by using English, French and Italian traditions to develop the 400 hectares which includes rose gardens, a park lake, a museum of Natural Science, a zoo, amphitheatre and a football stadium. It is said to have around 500,000 trees of various species including palms, plane tress and various flowering shrubs.

After our park stroll we stopped at an Italian restaurant-bodega for our lunch. It was another gourmet treat although I had to pass on the wine because of my touchy digestion. I ordered an appetizer plate of proscuitto and provolone cheese and a main entree of lasagne neopolitan. It only cost about $8. for the meal including tip.

We came back to the hotel footsore and exhausted and decided to have a nap (all sensible folk here opt for the afternoon siesta) and later we went out to walk around, stopped in at the super market to stock up on goodies for the long bus ride back to Santiago tomorrow. I enjoy visiting super markets in other cities . This one as excellent and had shelves and shelves of wines and liquor as well. (The one we went to in Santiago was just as nice as any I´ve been in, quite exclusive in fact.)

We actually visited the local McDonald´s tonight and I had a big Mac which tasted fine - good Argentine beef. (the meds I got for the touristas seems to have worked okay). And after the blogging we´ll head back to the Plaza and do some last minute shopping from the craft market vendors. Tomorrow it´s up and away early for the 7 hour bus trip back to Santiago. Hopefully we´ll not mess up in the transport to the depot t his time and will make our connections on time! Hasta luego. More to come from my adventures in Chile. Maybe I´ll even spot those elusive condors on the trip back!

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