Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

MENDOZA Argentina 5/4/05

Hi everyone,
I am back in Argentina in a town called Mendoza. It is the heart of the Argentina wine country. I just arrived at a very nice hostel called DamaJuana in the center of town, Very nice place with a swimming pool and restaurant free breakfast and free internet for about US $7.00 per night. Twenty pesos here in Argentina. So I just got in and hung out in the chaise lounge chair by the pool for about an hour soaking up rays. First sunbathing since my stay in Iguazu Falls about 4 weeks ago. I deserved the little sunbath and swim since i spent all day (from 8 am to 3pm) on a bus coming from Valparaisa Chile.
The bus ride was one of absolute glory!! Serious! We went through all these beautiful mountain passes and past a great range of mountains and got a glimpse of a mountain which i am now sorry because I already forgot its name but it is the tallest peak in the Americas at about 6,500meters or about 20,000 feet!!!
WE went through many serpentine winding roads thousands of meters above the tree line, and also through many small tunnels. The views were just UNBELIEVABLE
I know it sounds funny to say but it was one of the nicest bus rides I have ever been on.
Two weeks in Chile in the beautiful lake country and on wonderful Chiloe Island were fun but rather un-eventful. The truth is I liked Argentina better and I am kind of glad to be back here, This country is about 30 to 35% cheaper than Chile too. The food is a little better also I think. but the food in Chile was very good also,I loved the empanadas (like little calzones with all kinds of fillings either fried or baked)and the milcaos (little potato cakes with cooked chicken or pork in the center) Yesterday in fact I had a fantastic seafood stew in a little market in Valparaisa. It was just gigantic and chock full of mussels different kinds of clams these lovely orange colord barnacles that the people eat down here and fish in a yummy broth of tomatoes and onions and a delicious picante tomatoe and chile salsa served on the side, Just fantastic! Valparaisa is a port town on the pacific ocean.The big open air market is just a few hundred meters from the sea. Downstairs the market is all fruit, veggies and other food stalls and upstairs is all restaurants serving fish and seafood stews and fried fish and the like, There is a little strolling band of three guys one playing a guitar one with marakas and one playing a little mini acousic guitar with nylon strings all three sing together and harmonize beautifully and they do it all for propinas (tips). They stroll all around from one restaurant to another, there ar no real walls seperating the restaurants it is just different kitchens really, There are of course some partial walls but everyone looks into everyone elses restaurant. It was excellent. I really liked it. I also had a nice fruit that I was unfamiliar with called a pepina dulce which translates to sweet cucumber. It is small and looks like a pale yellow and pale green striped colored miniature eggplant. You peel it and seed it and dice it up ¬°Aye caramba! Que sabrosa.(its great).
Valparaiso was a little disappointing. I was expecting a more laid back beach town kind of experience and it is instead a thriving and bustling port town with a population of a couple of hundred thousand people. It is a UNESCO world heritage site (this stands for united nations totally cool place). I stayed in the barrio that is the heritage site and it was okay. A lot of the city is pretty dodgy at night I was warned. Interesting story:
Three days ago I am in Pucon a beautiful lake side city in Chile with an active volcano on Lake Villarica, and I meet a very nice Dutch couple he is from Amsterdam and she is from Utrecht, and I have just bought my bus ticket to go to Valparaiso and we are chatting in the hostel asking and answering the first ten questions that all backpackers ask each other ie
Whats your name?
Where are you from?
How long you gonna be traveling?
How long have you be traveling already?
How long have you been in (insert name of present country)?
What do you reccommend to see/do here in (insert name of present country)?
Where were you last?
How was that?
Where are you headed next?
When are you headed out?
And well they had just come from Valparaisa and had only been in South America for 8 days so far of a planned 6 month trip.
So I say "I am going to Valparaiso tomorrow how was it?
They look at each other and shrug, he says "well we got help up at gun point"
She says "yes, the second day of our trip!"
I say "oh shit what bad luck, at gun point? Yikes what happened?"
"well it was like this we were staying at a really nice place the Lunasonrisa hostel (oh f%&$king great thats where I am going) and we were walking around the Museo Cielo Abierto (open sky museum)and taking photographs of the murals and were having a real nice time climbing around the hills and looking at the view of the sea and finding all the beautiful murals and these three guys in their late teens followed them and caught up with them at a corner and one got in front of them and pulled a pistola and the other two were behind them and started removing thier little day packs and...she started crying and told them no so they left hers alone but they took his and it had his cash and passport and creditcard and ATM card and the camera and ah well... So they took off running and it is 7 at night and still light out and the peoople in cars didnt stop or anything and the people in their houses just shut their doors when it went down and so the guy starts chasing them and they took off and he lost them in the narrow winding streets. They told the cops who did nothing and they had to go to the police station and fill out a report (half a page long) they didnt even ask for a description of the muggers... They didnt even PRETEND to give a ducks fart about it. And I am thinking "oh swell why didnt I hear this story BEFORE I bought my ticket"
Well I guess there are two ways to get ripped off, you are stupid and lazy or you just have plain old bad luck.
Stupid and lazy is when you flash jewelry and cameras and count your wad of cash as you walk down the street from the ATM, wear clothing that are way way more expensive and touristy looking than the locals or you just leave your hand bag on the ground next to your seat at a sidewalk cafe...
THREE WAYS sorry sometimes it is a combination of stupid and bad luck. These two told me they were just stupid to be carrying their passports, ATM cards cash and shouldnt have been so obvious about taking pictures and they felt it was like their fault, But I say no way Jose`. Dont blame the victim!! They were ripped off and they probably could have been more careful but I told them look its nuts to blame yourself. You should be able to take pictures at an outdoor museum!! Thats what its there for. Where are the cops when you need them? This is the same stuff that happens in every country in the world. I told them they learned a good lesson the hard way and they were just plain unlucky.
So I was extra careful there, and went to the open air museum and had no problems, of course only one person in a thousand has that kind of bad luck. I felt foolish for even considering not going after hearing their story, but still I didnt stay very long and I am glad to be back in Argentina.
I will be headed up towards Lake Titicaca in the next week or 10 days doing my slow ramble throught this wonderful and beautiful continent. Just thanking the goddess for my continued good luck.
Oh yeah I read the most excellent couple of books these last ten days one called Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and one called A delicate Balance by an indian guy named Distry. Both fantastic I highly recommend them to travelers and squatters alike!!
Thats all for now
Rambling Robert


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert the next tine you are travelling through valparaiso and staying in lunasonriso you should check out wine tours Valparaiso.

You get to see some fantastic vineyards and also the house of Pablo Neruda.


4:18 AM  

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