Thursday, January 5, 2012

Peddling Perfection And A Bright New Year

Keeping our forward momentum, we ventured to the Mendoza region of Argentina for a 3 night stay.  The bus ride from Santiago is 6 hours and dropped us in not just a new country, but what felt like a new world. The area is (very) hot and dry and the culture was totally new.  We settled just outside the city of Mendoza in the sleepy town of Maipu, surrounded by wine vineyards and orchards.

The slow, small town was even more subdued because of the New Years holiday. The streets were empty and all of the restaurants were closed. We found ourselves wandering around, trying to drum up some action. Then finally we just happened upon it. One of my favorites things about traveling (and in life in general) is when things just work out better than you could have ever planned. That's pretty much what happened when we finally found the amiable Hugo who rents bikes to vineyard goers.  We hopped on our two wheeled chariots and took off in hopes that we'd find an open vineyard.

Our first stop was an olive oil tasting at Olive Simone. We sat and dipped and pretended to understand the all Spanish tour. The owner himself gave us the tasting and apologized that his electricity was out, meaning we couldn't watch the film (which we might not have understood anyway). We didn't really mind... the process was cool and the oils were rich and delicious. As we started to pack up to leave he offered us his nicest gift pack of oils to make up for the lack of electricity. It was above and beyond.

After peddling past stretches of closed vineyards, we pulled up to the small winery of Familia Cecchin.  After the tour we sampled some yummy wines and sat under a sprawling oak tree for a lunch amongst the grapes. We had no idea that we'd pulled into the only organic wine spot in the region and that they'd have an incredibly heavenly lunch, with vegetarian options to boot.  It was total perfection. 

Being that it was New Years Eve, we figured people were just laying low during the day to rest up for the wild evening. We could not have been more wrong. When Travis, Patrick and I ventured out at 11:45, champagne in hand, we found the town square totally and completely empty. Desolate even. It looked like an eerie zombie movie or like a UFO had landed and taken the entire human population aboard (there were still dogs roaming, of course).   Finally, just shy of midnight, the city awoke in an explosion of light. Fireworks shot up on every block, as far as the eye could see.  The three of us climbed up to our roof for a better seat. It was the perfect way to ring in the New Year and my heart filled with appreciation and insight. I was in the company of my two all-time favorite dudes, drinking champagne from the bottle, looking back at one of the most eventful years of my life and dreaming of adventures to come.  It was a damn good ending to a damn good year. 

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