We have some time waiting for our flight out of Santiago so this will be about our trip from
Libertador San Martin to Santiago. We did this trip in 2007 but it was almost totally in the dark
to Mendoza, Argentina at the foot of the Andes. This time we spent 2 days to get to Mendoza
and did it all in the day time. Parana and Santa Fe are big towns, agriculturally based but
the Parana River gives them access to the Atlantic which is quite a distance. It is farming
country all the way to Cordoba which is the second largest city in Argentina. It is mainly soybeans but we did see some corn
and sorghum and some alfalfa. There were area that were not suitable for farming and they
were pasture with beef and dairy. We did see a fair amount of silage in the white bags. They
are quite modern in there farming but the farm size on average is some smaller and the equipment
some smaller than in the US but as far as the quality of the crops they are excellent! The have
a very long growing season so you see a crop that is mature and the same crop in a very early stage right
next to each other. There were a few areas where it has been to wet and a few to dry but
over all there is going to be a big crop.
As we approached Cordoba we could see the Cordoba Hills which go SW of town for over 100 miles.
It has some big hills and lots of trees, lakes, rivers and streams and is big resort area. There
is quite a European influence in some areas. A search for Cordaba Hills will turn up a lot of
information on the Internet.
The next day We traveled south of Cordoba and the hills were on our right and farming country
on the left. We did go through the edge of the hills in a couple of places and several times
could get a close up view. It is quite scenic and covers a huge area.
We went south and got pretty much east of Mendoza and headed west. At San Luis which is the
end of the Cordoba Hills the rain fall drops off and it turns to desert. The reason is as
the weather fronts cross the Andes from the Pacific it drops all its moisture and it is very
dry on the east side of the Andes. When we got about 60 miles from Mendoza we started seeing
vineyards which were irrigated with water from the Andes. There are also some other vegetables
Mendoza is at the foot hills of the Andes so it is very scenic and all the open irrigation canals
have made it possible for the town to have what seems to be endless "GUM" trees that are huge.
Most activities take place out doors. We had some great beef from the barbeque, ie steak, ribs, etc. and it was
on a small grill by our table. It was our best grilled steak place. We had a nice red wine and
Mendoza is a very relaxed city, nice and clean, nice stores and safe. There are some nice tours
here and it would be a nice place to spend a couple of days if not more. I would rank it as
one of the nicer towns in Argentina. Baraloche, San Martin de Los angeles and Salta are also
very nice. We don't care for large towns but BA is liked by many people.
We headed over the Andes and the weather started out cloudy but it cleared up and was much
nicer than 2007. Be sure and see the new Andes Mt. pictures at www.w0sd.com under the 2010 SA LINK.
There has been a lot of improvements since 2007 in the road and border crossing. Everything
is now in one building and really speeds things up. They have more people on duty and they
really expedite bus passenger crossing. The people on the bus were all very nice and helpful.
We dropped down the west slope of the Andes and headed through the foot hills to Santiago. We
were going to stay in the same hotel as 2007 but there was a mixup so we are staying near by.
We are eating some good beef for supper and have a good breakfast here at the hotel and we
skip the noon meal. We have Wi-Fi here so I am updating the web site as well as sending the
travelogue. It appears there was very, very little damage from the earth quakes here but to
to south down in the Pategonia where we were in 2007 it was very bad. In fact the town
where I had the surgury for my broken leg and ankle was one of the hardest hit.
Some things we have noticed are that the hotels in SA pretty much all have motion lights in
the hallways so there is no lights on until there is motion. Most of the rooms require you
to insert your magnetic key card or if it is a conventional key lock it still has a card
with a magnetic strip that you have to insert in a holder just inside the door. Without inserting
the card you have no lights, air conditioning, TV, etc. It saves them a lot of energy
but when you come back to your room it can be quite hot depending on the outside temperature.
Mario tells me that most people have there salary deposited into there account. Typically
they don't write checks and I don't think most people have checking accounts. The use cash and
if they by things on credit I think it is typically paid from there account. You don't go to
the bank to get money but get it from the ATM machine unless it is out of order and then they
will permit a withdrawal at the window.
In Cordova the Spanish is sing song. Mario talked like they do and sure enough in cordoba they
spoke like they were singing. We had a real challenge in Cordoba with missing a bus and getting
another ticket for a later bus. We were right there where we should of been but the bus platforms
to watch were from 20-30 and it was not the bus we were told, ie company and it did not have
Mendoza on the front. We will never know what happened. I had a lot of trouble getting the new
ticket as I could not understand her and she could not understand me. It is really crazy how
with most people I can get a lot done with Spanish but once in awhile it just does not seem
to work. I guess it is an accent problem and different words and pronounciation. There is
quite a bit of difference in words in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
Following are some things we thought were of interest that we have run into. All the buildings here are metal or brick and virtually all the posts are cement because of the
termites. There are a few wood treated posts but not many. Another thing is that bottled water
here is either carbonated or not. The non carbonated is call Sin Gas so you really have to
watch it when you buy water. Both Edith and I hate the carbonated water. On another matter
nearly all the wash machines just use cold water and if you want a hot wash there is a heating
element in the washer. I think you are aware of it but every where in SA they use only 220 vac.
We found getting the pasturized yogurt works well as you can freeze it and then eat is like ice
cream and it is a safe way of having ice cream. Most of the pasturization is the type that the
product will keep at shelf temperature for a long time as long as it is not opened. The best bus
we traveled on for service was the La Practica between Parana and Cordoba. They were alwaYS
bringing us something.
We have had steak at a grill called a Parrilla or sometimes called Chizaro 9 times and we had
steak off the menu three more times. The Parrilla at Mendoza was by far the best with all
high quality cuts and the price was the cheapest. The best steak was a T bone in Santiago Chile
but it was fairly expensive but it was huge and Edith and I split it and we had more than enough
so it ended up being pretty reasonable priced.
We fly out of Santiago, Chile Monday morning March 22nd early for San Jose, Costa Rica.