Sunday, August 3, 2008

Adventures with Bruno

Bruno and me, 10 floors up, downtown Mendoza. While in Córdoba, I met a guy named Bruno—twenty-seven—who is from Río Cuarto, just South of Córdoba, but who currently lives in Río Gallegos, way down South in Patagonia—I actually passed through there twice on my way to and from Ushuaia.

Bruno is tall and energetic, and my personal tour guide. We have spent every day together for more than a week, with the exception of the two-day period when we came to Mendoza, as we traveled separately—he swung by Río Cuarto on the way.

Thermals in Cacheuta, Argentina. It has been a tiring 10 days. My small legs and I trying to keep up with Bruno all day every day has been tough. Every day we have gone some place interesting. He has traveled these parts extensively and knows places that I would have trouble finding. He also knows how to get good deals and how to get around efficiently.

As an example, he took me to a Catholic church in Córdoba. It was full of people and I assume they were having mass. I wouldn't have personally known if I were allowed take any photos there, let alone wander all over, including up above the platform Thermals in Cacheuta, Argentina. overlooking the main area, and also onto a small platform above the priest, with a stellar view over the entire congregation.

We also visited Che Guevara's house in Alta Gracia and spent another day in a wonderful little spot called Tanti, where there is a beautiful rocky area with a stream flowing through it. It appeared to be a very popular spot with local tourists—three big tour buses pulled in while we were there.

In Mendoza, we went to a small mountain town called Cacheuta where there are "thermals." It's a nice little resort with pools of hot water set in a beautiful spot in the Andes mountains. True to form, Bruno told them I was a photographer—true The zoo in Mendoza. enough—and that we were doing a story on the area (as a part time job, he writes for a small paper, while his full time job is in the petroleum industry). We got in free. Although we didn't get into the pools, it was a relaxing and beautiful setting.

Yesterday, we rented bikes and rode around town a bit. The main point of interest to which we pedaled was the zoo here in Mendoza. Again, he told them we were doing a story on the zoo and they waved us on through.

Rolling a joint in Mendoza. Bruno normally has a tobacco cigarette in his mouth, but not infrequently it will be of the marijuana variety. In fact we spent probably an hour the other day walking around Mendoza trying to find a supplier, as he had exhausted his supply. After obtaining the goods, we sat down on a bench along the street while he constructed his joint.

Those of you who know me know that I don't know anything about food and don't cook much. Not so with Bruno. He likes to spend time in the kitchen and he likes his Bruno, cooking dinner. asados—that's the Spanish word for BBQ. We've had probably four of them. I chip in with the cash and we go to the market, coming home with a crate full of food and firewood. Then he goes to work.

In Córdoba, a supermarket supplied the goods, but the market here in Mendoza is different. It's a market with many different vendors—it's not a single company. Talk about a meat market! They're not shy about displaying the animals. The market has everything you need, from meat to vegetables to spices. Bruno knows what he's looking for and if he doesn't like the price or the quality, he lets them know.

Buying dinner in the market. Life with Bruno has been an adventure. I can't say I'll mind the extra rest I'll get when we part ways, but I've experienced the area in a way I wouldn't have without him. And I'm sure more than a week of speaking almost nothing but Spanish hasn't hurt either. So, my hat goes off to my guide and my friend, Bruno.

The market in Mendoza. Bruno, preparing dinner. Bruno, feeding chocolate to the monkey. The zoo in Mendoza. Relaxing at the zoo in Mendoza. Mama and baby. The zoo in Mendoza. Yawning or angry? The zoo in Mendoza. Mom is hungry. The zoo in Mendoza.

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