After a very successful, albeit lengthy hitchhike from Chile, we arrived late at night in Mendoza. We went to a local pizza restaurant for some wine and empanandas. We had been in contact with our couch surfing host sporadically through Whatsapp and finally met up with her at 1.30am!
What an amazing host and contact Vicky turned out to be. She took us out for some local drinks the following night, where we stumbled upon some gypsy jazz musicians busking. I jumped up and played an impromptu song with them too!
The following day, she invited us to visit a friend of hers in a small town called Las Vegas (no casinos there) in the local mountains; a couple of hours drive away. I spent a lovely evening playing tango and gypsy standards with our host Julio, a fantastic guitarist.
The morning after we went for a little hike up in The Andes, with the amazing El Plata Mountain as a focal point in the distance. The terrain here is pretty dry, dusty and easy to walk on. We donned our boots, but you can climb fairly high in just a pair of trainers during the summer.
Later that afternoon, we went to swim at the glorious Potrerillos, a man made reservoir that is the main water source for Mendoza, but doubles as a swimming spot for locals and tourists alike. You can get there and to Las Vegas by bus in about 1 and a half hours from the Mendoza central bus station for around 58 pesos. The water was a beautifully refreshing temperature, but ensure to take sun cream with you as even at 5pm it was scorchingly hot.
With no solid plans of what to do next, we decided to stay a while longer in the mountains with another musician called Ariel. Life there was very simple and a much slower pace than we are used to! The change of pace, gave us the time, peace and quiet to spend a good 4 hours a day studying Spanish, our self appointed target towards the goal of fluency in 6 months time. While we were there, the small river pictured above flooded and the water supply in Las Vegas was cut off for 3 days. This was the first time we had experienced no running water and it made us both realise how precious a commodity it is.
Later that week, we had the opportunity to play on a local radio station, my first ever air time as a 3 piece swing banda locale…
Following this, we enjoyed a weekend of fiestas where we heard a fantastic variety of musicians. With Julio, Ariel and two other musicians from the street band Bici Swing in Mendoza, we made a 5 piece group to play gigs over a few days of Argentinian carnival. The most notable gig we played was at a local bar in Potrerillos, with the most amazing vista behind us (pictured below). During our sound check a magnanimous storm approached out of nowhere and we were eventually rained off. Not deterred, we continued to play unplugged amongst the crowd in the only covered area of the bar.
After a great weekend of gigs, we decided to move on to San Rafael… more to come soon!