Green pastures, black and white cows, endless highways. I am sitting in the front row of a comfortable bus on the way from Valdivia to Frutillar in southern Chile. The night before, Anna and I were planning where we are going to spend Christmas, booking accommodations in Frutillar and our next destination Chiloé. And we were discussing, how far south we wanted to go in Patagonia, where to rent a car and what else we wanted to do in the next four weeks. Right now, I am supposed to write an article about our journey from Mendoza to Santiago de Chile a few weeks ago. It feels weird to constantly live in the future and in the past while in the present, life is unfolding. I would much rather tell you what we did yesterday and whom we met for lunch today, but this is a story for another day.
Planning has become a new family member. It requires almost as much time and energy as our first child. And while planning travels and concerts is interesting work, it is still work that needs to be done. After Anna’s concert in Buenos Aires, she got a contact in Mendoza and an opportunity for another performance there. Also, we were looking forward to a playdate my brother-in-law tried to arrange for us in Mendoza with friends of his. When we finally arrived in the city, we were looking forward to connecting more dots. Anna spent quite some time on the phone trying to make the concert happen. While modalities were still under discussion and the date had not been agreed on yet, the venue asked, whether we wanted posters and flyers. People sure are nice and helpful in Argentina! However, days went by, and no proper plan materialized. After all, it was an idea, an intent of having a concert. Putting it into practice, well, it was not meant to be. Planning is cumbersome everywhere, but probably, it’s particularly cumbersome in Argentina. Probably, people have other things on their agenda that are just more important at the moment.
However, we made our time worthwhile: we enjoyed the parks and bodegas, feasted on massive portions of meat in one of the infamous grill restaurants and we rented bicycles and took a ride through the vineyards in Luján de Cujo. The folks at Baccus Bikes were super friendly and helpful and made sure we did not miss the excellent wine and sandwiches at Rincón Gieco. The next day, I went to the tourist information to get tips on good hiking areas between Mendoza and Uspallata as well as directions how to get there by bus. The friendly gentleman who did not speak a single word of English showed me some pictures on his computer and we were ready for another adventure. Anna spent an hour at the bus station and miraculously managed to buy tickets from Mendoza to Uspallata and from there to Viña del Mar at the Chilean Pacific coast.
Uspallata is a little green patch in the desert at the foot of the Andes at around 1700 meters above sea level. The Andean glaciers were not only clearly visible from the garden of our little cabaña, we could also feel the chilly air in the evening. We put our barbecue to good use and did a couple of smaller hikes in the area to marvel at the colourful desert rocks and the snowy mountains in the distance. Finally, we boarded the bus again and crossed the border to Chile at the spectacular Los Libertadores pass with 7000m Aconcagua towering above. We had been dreaming about this trip for quite some time, and it did not disappoint.