Today I ate. A lot. I ate so much my belly hurts. I heard of a German restaurant buried somewhere in the country side of San Rafael and couldn’t resist checking it out. Owned and operated by a friendly German expat who speaks fluent Spanish and a little English I was treated to a unique experience. The vegetable strudel was to die for and the hospitality the best I’ve had in Argentina so far. Maybe that’s because there wasn’t a single Argentine employee!
This morning I met Fabian who owns the home where I’m staying and he couldn’t stop talking about how white I am. He didn’t understand how I could have lived in Argentina for six months without getting a tan. I told him there’s this new invention called sunscreen. By the looks of his leathery, wrinkled, and cancer fetching skin, he could benefit from just a little.
This is my last day in San Rafael, I leave tomorrow morning for Buenos Aires. Mendoza city was on my itinerary but I was comfortable in sleepy San Rafael, and I appreciated the solitude it afforded me before I have to return to the energy and vitality of BA. On the trip back I have one more stop scheduled at Luján Basilica and I’m eagerly anticipating it.
The butter was delicious
Vegetable strudel -- to die for!
Life would be meaningless without beer
The restaurant is far from the beaten path, a remote location 10 km from the main road
This is what being gay is like! Beautiful.
Someone in Canada found my blog by googling “franco cignelli is gay” 21 times yesterday. Yes, I am gay. People find my blog through a plethora of ways and I’m always curious what their intentions are. All my friends and family know that I am gay, I live very openly, especially on this blog, so I imagined a former classmate from high school found this revelation shocking or less so! Probably less so. Anyway, if you want to know something, I have a contact page, you can just ask. I won’t hold it against you.
I love my dog
I love my dog. Look how beautiful she is. I was enjoying wine in the sun when a group of dogs came up to me this afternoon. They were so cute, but not as cute as Maude, the Queen.
La Represa el Tigre
Last night I was sitting by the pool and staring up at the sky thinking about all the people I know who are no longer here. I don’t know where people go when they leave this planet, but I was thinking about lost souls nonetheless. One of my many flaws is that I can live in the past and that can make me melancholy from time to time. Life is fleeting, and for some of us, too fleeting. As the breeze kissed my face I imagined those who have passed on sitting with me, sharing a laugh.
English lessons with my students have lately been based on the topic of the environment. It annoys me that humans believe it will be us who will lead to the annihilation (I really wanted to use that word!) of the Earth. It seems so egotistical. The planet survived long before us and will survive long after us. It will no doubt be responsible for our undoing. Earth will find a way to protect itself from the damage we have and continue to inflict upon it, and will rid itself of our selfishness. After we’re gone, it will simply heal.
Why the hell am I talking about this? Anyway, while enjoying my Bianchi wine I noticed how the clouds were merging from all directions and feared the rain would ruin a lonely, yet pleasant evening. My glass empty, I sat myself up and returned to the cabin for a refill when a sudden gust of wind came in and cut off the electricity. No television, no Internet, nothing. The rain came and it was vengeful. I went to bed and woke to a cloudy sky.
Tired from the last couple days of activity I wanted to take it easy and drove to La Represa el Tigre. More rock and water, but an example of how human beings try to control nature. No matter how much we convince ourselves otherwise, all the levies, dykes and dams are ill-prepared against nature’s wrath. How dramatic!
It was a cloudy day
The River Ran Through It
Afterwards I went to the centre of town, ate some pizza and enjoyed some beer. Life, can it get any better?
Plaza San Martin in San Rafael, Mendoza
Madonna and child, carved in wood
What do you call these things?
At 2,000 pesos a pop this could be yours
I like wine, beer and vodka but don’t know a hell of a lot about them. Perhaps I should apologize for knowing nothing about the alcohol that I enjoy, but is it really that terrible? I know what I like and I stand by it. Mendoza is wine country in Argentina, and in San Rafael the most popular winery is Casa Bianchi, only a stone’s throw from where I’m staying. Unfortunately when I arrived I succumbed to one of my aura migraines and was out of commission for 90 minutes. Luckily I didn’t throw up! Still feeling murky I went ahead with the guided tour and had a wonderful time. The whole experience made me question why I have yet to visit the wineries in the Niagara region of Ontario. When I’m back in Canada that’s one of the first things I plan on doing.
55 pesos buys you an escorted tour into this room where you can taste three glasses of Bianchi's premium wines. 1 Malbec, 1 Sauvignon Blanc and 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought two bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc.
A nice display of Bianchi's best wines
The room was beautiful and our voices echoed
Our tour guide took us through each selection
Where the magic happens
This is why wine tastes like wood! The tour was in Spanish, I was lost!
The Malbec grapes
They tasted good
At the end of the tour I was thrilled to receive a complementary glass of champagne
I take back my earlier comment about spitting in the faces of meteorologists. Forgive me.
The long and winding road. You can see the Andes in the distance.
Here are the last photographs from my adventure to the Atuel Canyon. In spite of the heat, I had a great time, and would do it again in another couple of years if given the opportunity. Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go to sleep and try to beat the heat. These jokers called meteorologists are calling for rain. I spit in their faces, how’s that for rain? Chau.
It was a long drive
At the mouth of the Atuel Canyon is the Nihuil Mirror; today it was a little ripply
The bus that gets people around in one piece, allegedly
The Atuel Canyon, one last time!
I took a geology course in university which proved useless on today's trip. $40,000 spent on an education and I can't remember anything I learned!
It's like Mount Rushmore, but not
Rio Atuel -- for the last time!
The show stoppper -- Donkeys!
The majestic Atuel Canyon
Oh Argentina, how you enrage and dazzle me all at once. I awoke in a cranky mood because there is no air conditioning in this God forsaken place. Luckily there was a lovely thunderstorm last night, and yes, rain did fall. But by morning the sun was murderous. The itinerary for today was to tour the Atuel Canyon, and it did not disappoint – I was floored by how mighty it was.
I could bore you with a history lesson, but I imagine there are countless websites who have done a more thorough job than I ever could. So I’ll leave it to them if you want more information.
The objective of this post is to entertain you with this photo essay depicting my love affair with the canyon. Enjoy.
The Atuel Canyon and me -- it was a hot day! I have to wear a cap because I am losing all my hair and the sun will burn the top of my head. Don't mind my hair loss, I'm finding it all in my ears. Win, win!
The Atuel River and me
The Atuel River and me -- again!
I know I know me and the river again, I swear I fell in love
The Atuel Canyon went on for over 100 km
I was blessed by a wondrous cloudy sky that brought respite from the blistering sun
A white horse grazing!
At the Nihuil Mirror I found a tourist stop, with only cacti to help
Check back for more on my trip to the Atuel River. The Internet here is 1998 slow, so you can imagine how long it takes to upload photographs. I hope to have everything completed by late evening.
My house. Trust me it looks nicer than it is.
Would it be too dramatic to say that I was almost killed during my trip from Buenos Aires to Mendoza this afternoon? Never mind, I can hear the collective sighs followed by a resounding YES. Bitches. Well, after nine excruciating hours I finally arrived in San Rafael, Mendoza. My travel companion was as interesting and entertaining as a box of hair. But I am known for being a bit of a princess. The house I am staying in is… well… let’s just say that I’ve had better living arrangements in a shanty town in Moshi, Tanzania. But I digress, it has one redeeming quality, the pool.
It’s hot. Like you want to drown yourself hot, but don’t worry — although many of you look forward to my Whitney-like demise — I did not commit suicide. How else would I have been able to write this? Morons. Forgive me for the name-calling, I’ve had a long day. The thunder is crackling outside, but it’s been doing that all day and not a drop of precipitation has met the searing concrete. The neighbours arrived not soon after me and turned on their sprinklers, which was confusing in light of the storm clouds overhead. They obviously knew something I was unaware of. That Mendoza is as dry as a porteño in bar. Fun it does not make.
Each night I’ll write a recap of my day’s activities with photographic evidence. Today’s journey was to the centre of the pool. Not the most exciting adventure, but refreshing. Also, there is a dog out on the road that has it in for me. If by any chance you never hear from me again, tell authorities that a white dalmatian (no spots!) almost mauled me while closing the front gate this evening.
Maybe tomorrow… maybe.
This afternoon, I swam for a long time
I was hoping for rain to wash away the heat, but it never came
My new shoes
Joking. That title was just to get your attention. It worked didn’t it!? Gays marrying is fabulous! Just fabulous. Especially gay Italians. I mean, that’s just hot.