Thursday, March 12, 2009

Random Travel Update 38

Last locations: Montevideo, UR; Punta del Este, UR; Colonia del Sacramento, UR; Buenos Aires, AR; Iguazu Falls, AR; Mendoza, AR; Penitentes, AR; Parque Aconcagua, AR
Arrival Date: February 18, 2009
Departure Date: March 10, 2009

Current location: Mendoza, Argentina
Arrival Date: March 10, 2009
Departure Date: March 17, 2009

Next Location: Santiago de Chile
Arrival Date: March 17, 2009
Departure Date: Undetermined

Photos at:
Blog at:

I waited too long again to write an update and now the events of the last three weeks swizzle in my head like sweet sugar candy memories. The pictures will say more than I can. Bright graffiti in the streets on Montevideo, colorful umbrellas on the beaches of Punte del Este, cobblestone corners in Colonia del Sacramento, tango dancing on the streets of Buenos Aires, breathtaking drops at Iguazu Falls National Park, Spanish classes and wine in Mendoza…and the Andes.

The Andes hang on my mind like an ex boyfriend that I just can’t forget. Jagged rocks tower above like colossuses and rugged terrain makes it hard to keep your feet on the ground, your head gets light, your heart races and you feel as though you might as well be in the clouds. I spend every moment wanting to return to them.

And Jon. I left him in the first camp on his way up to scale Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes, the Americas, the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. At 6,962 meters (22,841 ft) it is higher than any mountain outside of the Himalayas. It sits just a few kilometers east of the Chilean border, four hours by bus (and six more by foot) Northwest of Mendoza. Though, Jon is scaling the farther end of the mountain, which is a 35 kilometer walk to the base from the park entry and, from there, 8,000 vertical feet to the top. The season ends on March 15th, which gives Jon half the normal amount of time allotted to acclimatize and ascend. Being the end of the season also means less predictable weather, colder temps and stronger winds.

While I was at the first camp with Jon, a group of guides and film crew came by to film a segment about mountain rescue operations. There is a lot of controversy surrounding an only partially successful rescue operation in January that the Argentinean press is apparently covering with a bias against the rescuers. The ABC story takes a more impartial approach. It seems to be big news here, having come up in several separate conversations even after I returned to the city. I get the impression that fatal accidents aren’t so common.

In other news, I survived my first earthquake yesterday morning, which gave me the opportunity to learn that Mendoza province is the most seismically active in Argentina. The whole city was leveled in 1861 and hit again in 1985 and 2006 by medium intensity quakes. Apparently, mini quakes and earth tremors like the one I experienced are very common.

When Jon returns, we will depart for Santiago and from there up the Chilean coast to Bolivia where we’re likely to stay for a month.

Keep the emails coming. Bandwidth comes and goes, but I’ll definitely read them even if I don’t respond immediately. If you want a postcard, send me your address.



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