Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina and Back Part I

We recently took the 7 hour bus trip to Mendoza, Argentina. While 7 hours on a bus sounds unattractive, it was a really lovely trip. The bus was a large tour bus with comfortable seats (comparable to 1st class air travel seating) and cost 10,000 Chilean pesos or about $20 US. Dozens of tour buses go back and forth daily from Santiago to Mendoza so you can simply go to the bus station and choose one (of dozens of companies) that is leaving when you like.

The bus was a double decker and we chose the bottom level. I’ve heard the top level can be quite frightening but those who enjoy roller coasters might enjoy the upper level best! The large windows show great scenery and views but I wonder how those sitting on top felt going around the many curves(you can feel the top of the bus sway) on narrow roads passing large trucks and slow moving vehicles! I think we saw plenty from our level, thank you very much.

The views from the bus window were surprisingly good-photos even came out better than expected.

You did have passing trucks obscure the photo now and then- just when you almost had the perfect shot.

The views were just gorgeous and fascinating. Never ending and always changing colors and textures due to different mountains and terrain as well as the wind and water’s affect on them.

We took many photographs but every turn in the road brought a brand new view that seemed completely different and more beautiful. It’s hard to describe and the photos don’t do justice to them really but the Andes are simply remarkable. They are sometimes like the Rocky Mountains but are also completely different. That’s something that runs through life here-I see schoolchildren on the street, passing by the house, and think “they are the same as kids anywhere” as they laugh and share secrets and flirt. But at the same time, they are so very different too. I digress-back to the Andes…. We started from the Santiago bus terminal and the first part of the trip is the outskirts of Santiago, soon the views are countryside and vineyards. After a time, you can feel the bus begin to really climb and the foothills are in full view. The scenery continues to change and real mountains roll by outside. Small mountain streams and waterfalls appear here and there, along with sheep and even horses grazing amongst the rocky land. For about 2 ½ hours we gazed out the windows-I can’t describe how amazing the Andes look.

Both telephone lines and ski lifts run across the Andes. I didn't get a photo but many closed lodges up high.

It's summer here but plenty of snow on top for those that miss it!

The highway winding below us.

I don't remember finding rocks so amazing but they were...

A mountain peak seems to beckon us, as we near Argentina and immigration.