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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A JOURNEY TO THE ANDES: More Trip Preparations

"Andes" a native word, meaning unknown.
The Andes Mountains are the longest and one of the highest mountain ranges in the world, stretching 7250 Km (4500 mi) from North to Sound along the West Coat of the South American continent, from the warm equator in the north to Cape Horn in Patagonia. The southernmost tip is not far from Antartica. The tallest peak is Mt. Aconcagua, a giant towering volcano 6,959 meters (22,831 ft) situatiedn near the Chilean/Argentine border. The Andes are rich in minerals: gold, silver, tin, copper, platinum, lead and zinc. The most famous bird is the Andean Condor. These immense birds that live along the Andean chain now face extinction.

I've been doing more research for our trip to Chile, and proposed visit to Mendoza, which is just across the border in Argentina. Mendoza is situated at the foot of the Andes Mountains and is the most imortant city in western Argentina. It's a popular tourist destination because of various interesting activities in the region. Because of the mild climate, it's the fruit and vegetable growing area, famous for its vineyards. Mendoza is a beautiful city with many historic traditions. (Anyone I 've spoken to who has been there have raved about the city so now, more than ever, I'm excited to visit there.)

Mendoza was founded in 1561 by Pedro del Castillo, who named the city after the governor of Chile, Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza but after only four years, just twelve Spaniards remained and the governor of Chile stepped in and offered compensation to the local natives who farmed the land and soon the Spanish population increased. Most of the residents were Huapes Indians and Incas and Puelches. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1861, then rebuilt and became a regional metropolis with imortant commercial, industrial, financial and cultural development. Currently the population is 130,000 (800,00 includig Gran Medoza.)

Besides the attraction of mountain hiking, horse-back riding, skiing, spas and other outdoor activities there are some interesting museums and things of cultural interest such as the many craft and artisan markets.

I'm most excited about visiting some of the wineries, most imortantly the Bodega La Rural wine museum. Mendoza wineries produce some of the countries best wines. The sunny days, termal dry, arid climate result in it being an oases for the highest quality of wine-making.

In the city there's also the Museo del Area Fundacional, which has relics from the city's beginnings.

I hope we get a chance to go up into the higher mountain areas. I remember seeing some photos of my friend Anibal's brothers up in the Andeas with the condors soaring around. That would be quite a thrill. The trip over to Argentina is also a sentimental journey in memory of my soul-brother Roberto Hallberg who was from Buenos Aries, and who, like Anibal, educated me about his country. He'd be pleased to know I am planning a visit there.

1 comment:

ellen@amazingmendoza.com said...

I am a free-lance writer who at one time was a full-time travel writer. Since we bought a home in Mendoza, I lead a double life in the US and in Argentina. See www.amazingmendoza.com I returned yesterday from my last stay there--6 weeks. lf you have questions about Mendoza maybe I can help.