We boarded the Buquebus (the modern ferry) excited for Argentina but completely in love with Uruguay and sad to say goodbye.
The boat ride was beautiful. The sun was setting over the city when we pulled in to Buenos Aires. After a short stay in Buenos Aires we moved on to Mendoza, a smaller city 14 hours away in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
We arrived in Mendoza for the start of Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (National Wine Harvest Festival) the biggest event of the year. There were all kinds of activities each day. There were concerts and wine tastings and shows, all of them giving thanks to God for the wonderful harvest. The water supply in Mendoza is very small so the harvest is a big deal.
We also enrolled in another Spanish school to continue improving our
Spanish. Our teacher Anna helped us with our conversation skills so we
could survive. Even though we aren’t fluent we are learning a lot. One
night we went to a sushi restaurant and ordered our whole dinner in
Spanish. My mom and I took a tango class and learned the basic steps. It
was really funny and really fun!
One day we were invited out to a winery in the Valle de Uco to harvest
grapes and learn the process of making wine. We started by cutting
grapes off the vines, filling crates and taking them to the winery.
First the grapes go through the sorter where the workers take out the
big pieces of leaves and over ripe fruit. Then they go through the de
stemmer to get rid of stems and anything else yucky you can get out.
Next the grapes are crushed either manually of mechanically. Then they
are put in oak barrels or stainless steel barrels to ferment for a
period of months to years. Then the wine is ready to drink! After
helping with the grapes we went for a horseback ride through the
beautiful vines. When we returned there was a big Asado (BBQ) lunch
waiting for us with live guitar music and delicious food!
The next morning we went back to Plaza Independencia to experience the
harvest parade. There were all kinds of floats. One of my favorites had
tango dancers dancing on top and it was covered with vine decorations.
At the end of the parade guapo (handsome) gauchos walked down
the street with their stunning horses.
Later that evening we went to
the closing harvest show. We were in awe of the amazing dancers,
acrobats, ballerinas, costumes, music and lights. Everyone was so
talented and creative. At the end of the show came the part all the
locals had been waiting for, the new queen of Mendoza was chosen. Drum
roll please… and the winners is Miss Las Heras. The crowd cheered and
the sky filled with awesome fireworks.
Next stop the Andes Mountains, the second highest range in the world!