Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

Andes pass from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

One of Mendoza's many fine squares

Yet another amazing bus journey, from sea level to over 3000 metres over an Andes pass to Mendoza. A very dramatic road, reminds me of a posh Nepal, driving past glaciers, and through snow runs, etc. And in the lower bits, vineyards. It is really very attractive round here, worthy of a few months travel in its own right. In retrospect I think I should have probably gone back into Bolivia and come into Argentina that way. It may not have been that much quicker, but would have saved me many thousands of miles and days and nights of travel on buses. They are very posh buses though, better than ours in the UK, but still. Argentine customs was the exact opposite of the ones in the coca chewing countries. It took well over an hour to get our bus through customs, and it was searched -as they all were - as if there had been a tip off that Osama Bin Laden was under the back seat.

So here I am in Mendoza, extremely hot, though fortunately a lot of trees about. Really a very nice and quite upmarket city, though not enough in the sights department to keep me here longer than the few hours I am. I have just spent over 30 hours on buses, and prevaricated for a long time about what next, but in the end decided to carry on the bus theme, so am booked to leave here tonight on the bus to Iguacu, all 36 hours of it! I think I will be a little crazy by the end of this, if not more than a little smelly, but I just want to get this gruelling bit over and done with. Wish I could afford more flights. But that should be the end of the really mammoth bus trips until my final haul back to Lima. The various remaining 20 hour trips are nothing.

So I just wandered round the fine city of Mendoza, at least once I had got some Argentinian Pesos I did. Thankfully, we are back in a cheap country, albeit not as cheap as the North. But on the other hand it has all the civilised stuff of Europe, so I quickly and easily got a new usb cable. the contact lens stuff I needed, and even one of those nifty LED headlamps from an outdoor shop. Generally a very attractive place, though completely shut down between 12 and 4 to avoid the blistering heat, and some very fine public squares and oodles of pavement cafes, not common further North. Reminds me a lot of a Mediterannean city. And I have clarified I dont need visas for any of the other countries in SA - good!

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