Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mendoza Bike Tour; The good the bad and the ugly of traveling in groups

A lot of people don’t understand how I can travel on my own but I really can’t understand how people travel in groups, they really make me frustrated. Nothing ever gets done or decided, its ages until people start moving; someone has to go to the washroom, someone needs to check internet, someone needs to buy a bottle of water, someone needs something to eat. Random adventures are less likely to happen in a group as well which I had been completely lacking this time around traveling.

I know I know it’s not where you are or what happens but the people who you are with that make an experience blah blah blah... I have preached this many times but Argentina was pissing me off, hostels were pissing me off and being a tourist was passing me off. I wanted an authentic Argentinean experience and I was getting sick of being a gringo and hanging out with other gringos. Yes perhaps I have been waking up on the wrong side of the bed in Argentina; actually I haven’t been really sleeping at all. I was still having this feeling of anxiety. I haven't been me and I have been having quite the poor attitude. I have been putting too much emphasis on wanting random adventures to happen, getting frustrated when they don’t happen but at the same time not really letting them happen.

This all came out when my new girlfriends and some other stragglers from the hostels and I decided to do our Mendoza wine and bike tour. We had two English girls, one Scottish, our American guy friend, two Aussie guys name Tim and Tom who looked like Prince William and two Germans I nicknamed the hobbits because they were short, hairy and stocky, although they were quite unfriendly and I would expect hobbits to be super nice and friendly. I was highly disappointed with their unhobbity ways.

We listened to the one English girl who decided the best place to do the tour was the less popular wine village of Lujan although I was recommended Mr. Hugo in Maipu by a good source. I prefer word of mouth and she was going by a travel agent but in the end she had her way and as you do in groups you shut your mouth and let the bossiest one take over. I was slightly seething especially when we ended up taking the wrong bus and no one knew where to get off or even how to get to this place. We got off at the end of the road where the bus turns around and started walking. I was seething even more, if we had gone to the other place like I had said then this wouldn’t have happened but no, we were in this obscure off the beaten path wine town where there is no tourist information. We asked several people where to go but to no avail. This could have been a prime hitch hiking opportunity but we were 7 people and two hobbits, there was no way anyone was going to pick us up.

Eventually we decided to get a cab so we split up. The Scottish girl, the prince Williams and I took the first cab and we didn’t think it would be that long until the others showed up behind us at the bike rental place that the cab driver was actually able to find for us. It seemed like we waited for ages, and they didn’t even have any bikes. I wanted to leave then and there take the Williams and the Scottish girl, ditch everyone else and take a taxi to the other town where they do bike tours, where I was recommended and where there are actually bikes! The Scottish girl was just so sweet and positive though it was still an adventure to her and it was important to stay with the group. She was smiling and having fun while I was fuming, I wish I was like her, I used to be like her what has happened to me? The owner of the bike rental place mentioned there was one other bike place up the road that may have bikes and he could drive us, we waited for our friends for a while then took him up on his offer. We found a super friendly man with his pregnant wife and more bikes than we needed. The others had arrived at the original bike place as we got there so the owner went back to get them.

I felt like a bit of an ass for taking off and wanting to ditch everyone. It worked out in the end and we eventually got our bikes and were set for a bike tour of the vineyards of Mendoza but first people were hungry. What! You’re kidding me after all this now we have to wait around because people want to eat, we were never going to actually go on his tour. My brief period of calm was interrupted by more seething. The owner of the bike rental told us right beside his house is a restaurant so we got him to hold the bikes while we went in.

We entered a different world, this wasn’t a restaurant but a shack of randomness. The walls had dead animals, meat hanging posters and pictures. The tables were surrounded by benches covered in animal fur and we were greeted by a man dressed in a black apron, a red kerchief around his neck and a black gaucho hat. He was something from an old Argentine cowboy movie. Apparently he was something of a legend, he loved meeting foreigners and sharing his wine and meat. He had photo books on the tables of his legendary asados with photos of him slicing dead animals. As his homemade wine came flowing in I relaxed and let go of everything. This place was incredible and the adventure was getting here. After everything that had happened and all the waiting around it all worked out in the end and here we were getting drunk on homemade wine in the craziest place that we would have never found if we went to the other more popular wine village. What has happened to me? I should know that things just have a way of working out when you are travelling; you just need to be willing to let them happen. As well IT IS the people you are with that make the difference and that make a good story. What would it have been without the hobbits?

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