Our last couple of days in Bariloche were filled with chocolate, some more wonderful meals with our new friends, a hike (where we got caught in the rain - joy!), and then more chocolate. Seriously, there had to be at least a couple dozen chocolaterias in that small city, and we tested our fair share. After loading up our packs with even more tasty morsels for the road, we got prepared for another marathon trip, a 17 hour overnight bus ride to Mendoza.
Back onto Ruta 40 northbound we begrudgingly went, but this time it was a breeze. Big and comfy leather seats, Hollywood movies, dinner service consisted of delicious steak and rice, free wine, and even a game of bingo! Our seats were the front row on the top of the double decker bus which allowed us to see some unobstructed beautiful scenery as we drove. We both slept fairly well and when we woke at daybreak, we were ecstatic to find we were back in the land of magnificent palm trees!! Oh, how I missed thee!
Just before 8am yesterday we rolled into the Mendoza bus station and caught a cab to our hostel. We were pleased to even get a hostel (we waited too long to book and it's busy season!), and when I booked it I thought nothing of the fact that they told us all they had left was one room in the basement.
Then we saw it. We are staying in a dungeon, with two tiny little windows letting in very little light. There are two sets of twin bunkbeds which take up most of the room and the floor looks like it hasn't been washed in months. There are four available bathrooms throughout the building, and all of them are in need of a deep clean.
I wanted to cry - this is where we are going to spend Christmas? We checked if any other bedrooms had opened up, but the best they could do is move us into a double room upstairs on Christmas Day. We've tried other hostels to no avail - everything is booked. So, we are stuck.
Yesterday ended up being a pretty low day for Pete and I. We were both tired, bummed out at our living arrangements, and it is the first time in awhile that I have found myself a little homesick. Thankfully, Christmas down here is far different then it is at home - decorations are almost non-existent - if we were surrounded by constant reminders of it, the homesickness might have hit a little earlier and probably harder. But, I expected it to feel it in some form right now, and so there it was.
A good nights sleep allowed us to bounce back today and we had a really wonderful afternoon in this beautiful city! Keeping it low key, we packed a picnic lunch and walked an hour from our hostel until we came to a huge city park complete with many walkways and a lake. We plopped ourselves down in the shade under a massive fern type tree that had little flowers that smelled like lilacs. We laid there for hours - reading, napping and people watching while enjoying the thirty degree weather. This was just what I needed.
There is so much to do in this city that we will easily be keeping ourselves busy (and out of our dungeon of a room). We are in wine country after all, and there are over 100 wineries around here to keep us occupied. Friends will be arriving in the next couple of days and we are planning a big fancyish dinner for Christmas Day. We're looking into our options for theater, hiking, even zip lining! It may very well be our best Christmas yet...