Valle Grande, Mendoza, Argentina




It was an early start. The bus left at 7.30 from four or five blocks away. I got out at the end, where a track went up and around the lake towards Cañón del Atuel.





Eventually it veered away and I settled for a decent views of a thin arm of the lake with steep sides, then made my way back towards the hidroelectrico.








After the wildness of the first part of the walk, where I´d seen virtually nobody, this was noisy tourists, mainly kids, shouting a lot and trying to impress girls. I walked across the dam and through a couple of tunnels then down to the main road again, where a bus was due in about ninety minutes.


I was hungry but it was all overpriced empty and average-looking restaurants, with adjoining shops that sold nothing but biscuits, crisps and pop. I walked a few kilometres along the main road, once or twice putting a tentative thumb out but eventually took the bus into San Rafael.
Back at the hostel a big friendly group of seventeen from Greater Buenos Aires had arrived and I was soon drinking with them in expectation of a huge asado later on. They were an a short trip to Mendoza province, with the highlight to be a huge concert in San Martin by Los Redondos, a group I remembered from 2001. They were all great fun: there was beer, then Fernet, then the asado. We ate at three or four tables pushed together and it was absolutely tremendous: meat to die for, eight kilos of it, plus chorizo and morcilla.
I woke up the next day still thinking I had a chance to catch the ten o´clock bus south to Malargue, but Romy the Boca guy persuaded me to stay, which didn´t take much, on a plan to go out to the valley again, with another asado later. I´d pulled all my stuff out of the room to sort it for leaving without waking up the other guy there, then ten minutes later was taking it all back in.
The beer was already flowing by the time the minibus showed to take us to Valle Grande. After various stops for supplies, we arrived and ten or so of the group signed up for rafting later, then we all went to a tiny lakeside beach, where there were more drinks and lots of pictures.



Rain started to fall as our people made a big exit for the rafting, taking plastic containers full of Fernet and coke, while the rest of us adjourned to shelter under the road bridge with beers and the company of three girls and a guy who were camped by the riverside.




Eventually the others returned and we took the van up to the dam, then later at the hostel a huge load of chicken was cooked on the parilla while we passed around the Fernet. The next thing I knew one of the guys was waking me up in the morning. They were leaving for the concert and did I want to go? I did, but wished it was three hundred kilometres south instead of north and was fast running out of pesos. It would have meant a trip to Santiago, Chile from Mendoza city and that was a big hassle. I let it go and said goodbye to the crew. They´d been awesome.

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