Monday, March 28, 2016

Aconcogua & Mendoza, Argentina Photos

Aconcogua is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. I visited it the other day on a full-day bus tour from Mendoza, Argentina. It was a gorgeous drive up into the Andes. Aconcogua is near the Chile border and is about a 3-hour drive from Mendoza. The mountains there are so big and bold and contain zero trees (more because this is a desert than because of altitude).

Along the way we stopped at a little ski area called Penitentes. It's a small area that appears to have some nice hike-to terrain and a few runs dubbed "extremo". The base is at around 9500' and as you can see there are zero trees on the entire mountain.

It has a cute little base area in a dramatic setting.

The view from up on the ski runs.

Then we drove to Aconcogua National Park and took a short walk to a couple lookouts. That's Aconcogua far in the distance. It clouded over soon after this hike, so I'm glad I was able to see it.

Aconcogua is the highest peak in the Americas and the highest outside the Himalaya range at 22,841'. Climbing it is not technically difficult, but is obviously tough due to the altitude. Almost anyone can climb it with proper conditioning, but it still takes 3 weeks due to its location and altitude. I was psyched to be able to see it, if even just from afar.

A few more unrelated photos...

Here's the AirBnB place I'm staying for a week in Mendoza, Argentina. This is the courtyard/backyard of a modest home about a 15 minute walk from the center of town. The green on the trellis you see is actually grapevines with tasty grapes. The building is a little out-building that is about 11' x 9' and has been my room. It is cozy and comfortable and $10/night. I share the rest of the house with the 2 young women who live here. They are wonderful people.

Mendoza is an extremely green city, especially considering it is in the desert. The founders were smart enough to build an elaborate irrigation system throughout the city. Down both sides of virtually every city street runs a small canal mostly concealed under the sidewalk. From this water source grows a complete line of old trees that give shade to virtually the entire city. I haven't taken any photos of it, but you've all seen those beautiful streets that live under an archway of big ol' trees. It's like that everywhere. A very liveable city.

Mendoza is also the heart of Argentinan wine country. The Malbec grape thrives here after being cast-off from France. Malbec literally means "bad mouth" and the grape got that name in France because they struggled to make good wine from it. But the Malbec grape loves the terroir around Mendoza.

I went on a bicycle tour of some vineyards last week, which was a lot of fun. It seems to me that one could do a lot worse for him/herself than working at a vineyard. I love the idea of living close to the earth and, for me, I'd much rather be producing booze out of that relationship than just some healthy vegetables or whatever.

This is a truckload of grapes that were just picked and are beginning to be turned into wine. The three wineries we visited on the bike tour were all organic and I am impressed to see the number of organic wineries down here. Very cool. It was also fun to see all the bugs and spiders crawling around inside this pile of grapes. They must get removed sometime during the de-stemming process.

That's it for Mendoza.

What's Next

Lots of exciting stuff on deck for me, including...
  1. 10-day vipassana silent meditation retreat begins in 2 days. I'll write more about my feelings pre- and post- in other blog entries. Dhamma.org to learn more.
  2. I have applied for a job in Antarctica later this year. It would be a 4-5 month seasonal job working as a garbage man, basically. November - February or so. I think the experience of spending significant time in Antarctica would be amazing. Plus, the money would help me keep traveling longer.
  3. I'm looking for an Ayahuasca experience in Peru. If you can recommend a shaman, please let me know. If you haven't heard of
    Ayahuasca, it is an ancient plant medicine of the Amazon that is used to help people better understand themselves, overcome any anxieties or deeply held negative beliefs, and better see how they fit into the greater world. It is becoming quite popular for people who are striving to improve themselves as humans.
  4. I'm also thinking about volunteering in the Amazon for a few weeks. It would likely be based around conservation of the ecology or animals. I would live in the jungle and count frogs or plant trees or help injured monkeys. Something like that. We'll see.
  5. I also want to check out one of these eco village yoga communities. It feels a bit like a hippie commune sort of experience, but I think the experience has been updated quite a bit from that picture I just put in your head. This one outside of Lima, Peru looks interesting.

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