Friday, January 5, 2007

Moonlit Crossing

In the 3 days we were in Mendoza we almost melted. We knew it was hot, but we recently found out it was actually 43 degrees celcius that first day and 38 on New Year´s. This is why we break out in a sweat at 1am from the simple act of lifting a bottle of water to our lips. Hydration is key obviously, and wine does not cut it!

It was with a sense of relief that we boarded a 10pm bus bound for Santiago de Chile. Air con - yes! The night was dark in the precordillera but by the time we began our ascent up the Andes the full moon was out and cast an eerie glow across the massive peaks. Valleys with tiny streams twinkled and cascades sparkled as they came crashing down the mountains. Our bus kept going up, up, up as we passed by the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas - the gigantic Cerro Aconcagua @ 6962m. The mountains kept us in awe and the moon was the perfect spotlight for our nocturnal voyage. At Los Libertadores we crossed into Chile and then made our way into the inspection room where dogs sniffed out the rogue manzana (apple) I had in my small bag. Oops. Not cool. We weren´t alone though, so it wasn´t too bad. But what about the tomate and the berenjena (eggplant) in our backpack under the bus? Is this a felony? Should we attempt to come clean? Before we could do anything, a cup appeared before us and we plopped a 5-peso note into it - too much? Not enough? And why? Then...stamp! Bienvenidos á Chile!

The route down from the summit was very steep, hairpin turns aplenty, and our ears paid the price. Bottled water vacuumized and peanut butter just about de-hydrogenated itself. Within a few hours we were in Santiago and ready to hop another short bus to our final destination - Villa Alemana near the Pacific Coast.

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