A Bottle of Red (an update from Mendoza part, 1)

This post was originally published in Facebook Notes on March 20, 2009.  I have reposted it here because I like it.

The sun slowly finds its way over the northeastern walls of the canyon, spreading a beautiful light over the concrete, metal and wooden building by which we stand. Her hand passes me the wooden mate with the bombilla pointed toward me. We make eye contact. It is there, in the moment of that ancient ritual, shared among friends that I find myself in the moment, realize that this is one of those moments that make life special. A moment that will be remembered. Spontaneous and unplanned.

Traveling with a friend, I run into an old one and make a new one over mate in an Andean Valley. All around, towering cliffs and spires punch up into the clear morning sky. It is one of the moments that make me happy to be alive and help me recognize one of the true beauties of life and that the world actually can be pretty small.

The following morning finds me writing this while sitting in the tiled courtyard of a small, quiet hostel near downtown Mendoza. Lightening flashes in the predawn western sky.   A large tree rattles with a light breeze that barely stirs the grapes on the vines dangling overhead.

Several days ago, Josh and I arrived in Mendoza with the objective of checking out Los Arenales a nearby climbing area as well as checking out the local wine scene. Both would surprise us. After a day of exploring town and asking around we came up with some beta on Los Arenales. It would go. So we made plans. But first the wineries and bodegas.

In comes Mr. Hugo. We hop the Groupo 10 bus # 173 and ride to Maipu on the outskirts of the city. We hop off the bus in front of a shop with a bunch of red bikes. It is late in la tarde (the afternoon) so we get the discounted rate of 20 pesos or so. For about $5.50 US we get a bike, a map, a bottle of water, and eventually a large amount of wine for drinking.

A quick side note about me, a digression if you will. I don´t like the taste of wine; in fact most alcohol does not appeal to me. Wine has always tasted bitter, harsh or too tangy. Even the good stuff. However, as Josh and I rode that double-decker Andesmar bus into Mendoza a few nights ago, he passed me a bottle between the plush leather seats. Knowing I don´t like the taste, I hesitated. Then I thought ¨¿por que no? Maybe it will help me sleep.” I took a swig. In that I discovered the malbec. We finished the bottle.

Back to Hugo. So it was with some interest that I pedaled 20 km down narrow tree lined roads with fast cars, large trucks and many bodegas checking out some of the countries older wineries. Our first stop got a tasting and a tour. The second got us a tasting. The third was for licour and chocolates. We finally ended up weaving our red bikes back to the picnic tables of Mr Hugo´s where we hung out with a couple from Barcelona and Mr Hugo plied us four with several bottles of wine. The tastings confirmed some things: 1) I like malbecs 2) I don´t like others, white or red and 3) licours are not my thing.

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A little bit less of a nomad now, Jared still likes to refer to himself in the third person.

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