Sunday, October 4, 2009

Through canyonlands to wine country

Canyons and cactus around Tupiza, Bolivia

Driving south through Bolivia to the Argentinian border, we gratefully descended from the barren desert of the altiplano into colorful canyonlands. I finally felt my shoulders relax from the cold-driven hunch I had been maintaining for most of the last 6 weeks we had spent in Bolivia. After a warm night in Tupiza, we continued south for the border. Miraculously, having a car at this border actually sped our process through the bureaucracy. The border agents inexplicably instructed us to cut in front of busloads of people to process our passports and car import papers. While I enjoyed Bolivia, when we crossed into Argentina it immediately felt like a bit of a homecoming: paved highways with 110 kph speed limits, farms with gas-powered (as opposed to animal- or human-powered) farming equipment, and leafy trees.

Bikes and wine around Maipu, Argentina

Three days of hard driving through the canyons and vineyards of northwestern Argentina brought us to the eucalyptus tree-lined streets of Mendoza. Luckily for us Tom and Kelsey had already scouted out a fantastic apartment/hotel, and we arrived as they were uncorking a bottle of wine and setting out a plate of antipasto. The timing continued to worked out really well for us, as we had just landed another website development job. The four of us spent five feverish days putting together NewsroomPanama powered by many liters of fine Argentinian red wine and amazing steak.

Driving across the Andes from Argentina to Chile

With the initial website development complete, we spent an afternoon biking around the vineyards surrounding Mendoza. Chris and I looked super-cool on our sweet single speed tandem bike. We spent several enjoyable hours gorging on cheese and bread, red and white wine, and olive oil and chocolate. The next day we headed across the snowy Andes for more wine in Chile at the Concha y Toro vineyards outside of Santiago. As opposed to the small vineyards we visited in Argentina, Concha y Toro is one of the biggest vineyards in the world. We visited some of their huge wine caves and tasted two wines, although for a large operation their wine tasting was a little small. We next head for the coastal town of Pichilemu to look for some surf.

Caves at the Concha y Toro Vineyards

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