Saturday, November 8, 2008
The best laid plans of mice and men
I had it all planned out. Mendoza, for those of you who are not wine-savvy, is one of eight highly reputable global hubs in the wine industry. And in a little district nearby, named Maipú, there is a famous activity called "Bikes and Wines" which entails renting a bike for a day and cruising around for tours of several of the local vineyards. Being in the romantic city of Mendoza, I was somehow under the illusion of a beautiful wide bike path under shaded trees where the greatest obstacles would be grazing goats. And so I planned the day out for Joo and me and jumped on the local bus to head to Maipú.
However, when we arrived, it turned out the "bike path" was merely a meter long cemented area on the side of a ride where huge dirty trucks hurtled by with little concern for the bikers. Which was particularly retarding for our plans since Joo hasn't biked much and already had enough close calls in an earlier bike rental experience in Chile.
So, there we were. Abandoned on the side of the road, 9 km away from our destination of an olivicola- an olive plantation (where we were hoping there would be buses available). Walking was hardly possible as the heat was sweltering and we didn't have enough water. Yes, it probably would have been possible to cancel the day at that point and try to catch a bus going in the reverse direction, but after proofreading 100 MBA admission papers recently that go on and on about the importance of perseverence, I would have felt hypocritical. Enter Brainstorming, stage right.
I swear it was Joo's idea to hitchhike, not mine. Would I ever do such a reckless, capricious thing? But I cautiously went along with it, as I so often do with that daredevil wife of mine, and we threw our hands out there. In the first hour, three people were kind enough to stop for us, but unfortunately all three were each going only about 100 meters in our intended direction before turning off on a side road...
To kill the time, I entertained Joo with some precarious yoga moves on the edge of a roaring river...
Just as we were about to give up and just catch a bus back, a grandfatherly guy pulled up and said, "Hop in!" I read his eyes and deemed his trustworthy, so we got in and he took us most of the way while telling us stories of famous construction projects he had worked on, and of his trip to New York 10 years ago where he was blown away by the huge buildings.
After he dropped us off, we had a picnic lunch and then walked the remaining kilometer to the olive plantation where we indulged in a tour and sampling of some very fine virgin olive oil. We even got to try some "artisan black olives" that he said were his own creation and not available for sale anywhere (by their saline content I'm not too surprised why... but the other olives were simply delicious)