Thursday, March 28th: Had to vacate our apartment
because our landlady had previously rented it to a Chilean family for the Easter weekend.
New friends, Duilio and Claudia let us stay with them and their sons. They just happen to
live directly across the street! We had met Duilio at Carlos shop, where he keeps
his old R69S. The weather was rainy so we all went to the big shopping center and watched
movies (2 in a row- 4 hours!)
Friday, March 29th: Got Chris shock welded (again) and worked on
Alexs carbs. We all went out for a fantastic dinner at a Parillada (BBQ) restaurant
and received a free bottle of champagne with the wine we ordered.
Saturday, March 30th: Since the weather was clearing, we and the three
Germans took off to the mountains. We wanted to get out of the big city for a few days.
Mendoza was getting very crowded with local and Chilean tourists for the long Easter
weekend. We stopped at a place called Uspallata, a lovely valley in between the Cordillera
range and the Andes. We camp there for the night.
Sunday, March 31st: The next morning we relaxed, had a long breakfast and
then decided to drive further into the mountains to a place called Puente del Inca.
This is a magical place, a colorful, natural stone bridge created from years of mineral
deposits left by the thermal waters that are secreted here. It is at fairly high altitude
(about 3,000 meters, or 9,000 feet) and there was a chilly wind. We had come prepared with
our bathing suits and towels since we had heard there was a place to bathe. Over the
bridge, which crosses a fast moving river, there was indeed a small (very small) thermal
pool. The water temperature, while warm, was definitely not hot. However, we were there
and prepared so everyone jumped in to enjoy the experience and the views. The local
tourists stood around watching us and thought we must have been completely mad.
After a long soak, we enjoyed burgers and beers at an outdoor table of a snack shop
Monday, April 1st: My birthday! Woke up to a wonderful surprise
and Steffi had prepared a special birthday breakfast for me, complete with birthday cake
(with my name on it) and presents. It was a very special moment, which I will never
forget. We took our time packing everything up and headed back to Mendoza with the rest of
the Easter weekend traffic.
Later that afternoon we moved back into our original apartment. Alex and Steffi stayed
with us while Annet stayed across the street with Duilio and Claudia. At about 4pm, while
we were relaxing in the apartment I felt the building move. At first I thought it was just
a passing feeling of dizziness, but then I saw that the overhead lamp was swinging
slightly. I asked Chris if he felt it and he said yes. We yelled for Steffi and Alex, who
were in the back of the apartment, to come with us downstairs. Because we were staying on
the 13th floor (unlucky number?) we felt the tremor more acutely. We ran down
the 13 flights of steps and passed the security guard that was looking at us like we were
crazy. Out in front of the building we sat on a bench shaking with adrenaline. Turns out,
no one on the street had felt it. The locals told us later that tremors are a normal
occurrence there (like one or two a week) and they are quite used to it!
Tuesday, April 2nd: Alex and Steffi bid us goodbye and headed further north.
Annet decided to take off for a few days to be by herself. She went south in the direction
of San Rafael and would return on Friday. Chris and I had an appointment to appear at a
local primary school to talk to a class of 9-11 year olds who were studying English.
Turned out to be a good opportunity for us to practice our Spanish as the kids only
knew how to say "Hello" and "What's your name?" I talked about
our trip in English and Chris translated it into Spanish. Although I'm sure they
were enthralled by our tales of adventure, I think the kids enjoyed sitting on the bikes
the best. After that, Chris and I were alone for the first time in over a week,
which we spent mostly studying Spanish and watching videos.