Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Artisan chocolate shop tour, tasting (and sniffing.) 
We had a crazy visit to Mendoza, Argentina last week!  We drove up the 30 crazy-steep switchbacks (!) and over the pass from Chile into Argentina. We drove around in circles for hours trying to find our rented cabin because the signs (the ones that exist, that is) are crazy-confusing.  We got pulled over by the police (long story that worked out okay), drove our car into a little irrigation ditch (unrelated but also okay) and we spent 3 hours each way going through border crossing customs (going back into Chile we actually had a dog sniff through our car looking for vegetables!)
It was also crazy-wonderful.  The olive oil farm we visited supplied us with a never-ending pile of crusty bread to dip into the four different varieties of olive oil.  We stayed at a funky, artsy cabin owned by a woman named Cecilia, who gave us the in on a few different artisan shops to buy art.  Danny fired up the parrilla and made a crazy-delicious barbecue that any Argentine would be proud of.  Our kids actually enjoyed the long beautiful car ride through the mountains each way to and from Mendoza.  We soaked all day at the Termas se Cacheuta, (hot springs.)  We drank good Malbec that grew in a vineyard just minutes away from our cabin.  And we found the people of Mendoza to be extremely friendly and helpful (especially the man who welcomed us into his home to use his internet when we were lost and driving in circles and the five strong men who helped pull our little rental car out of the ditch!)

Overall it was a great trip.  The crazy-beautiful condor we saw flying just outside our car window on the ride home was the icing on the cake.  The kids have become great travelers- 11 hours in the car one day barely phased them.  We are ready to tackle the lake district next!
Danny gets the low down on the olive oil process; Cal consumes as much as he possibly can drip across his clothes and into his mouth.
Our idea of heaven
My favorite variety of the olive oils we tried- el mas suave.
This photo does not do justice to the insane incline up these switchbacks (30 in all WITHOUT guardrails!)
Looking back into Chile
Heading into hour number 2 of the border crossing. 
Harper enjoyed the three hours it took to cross into Argentina.  Danny...not so much.
Puente del Inca

I love this picture showing the scale of these mountains (and this isn't anywhere close to the big one- we passed Mt. Aconcagua at 22,841 feet, the tallest in the Southern and Western hemispheres).
One of the many tunnels on the Argentina side. 
View from one of the "funny tunnels"
Homemade rest stop.
Danny at the parrilla 
Termas de Cacheuta
This place was amazing- huge and full of Chileans, but it did not feel crowded at all.  The smoke from all the families grilling out on the parrillas around the pools made our mouths water and the thermal pools ranging from cool to super hot were clean and lined with rock walls and winding paths.  A great place for a long day!

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