Our first task is to find electricity for our soon-to-be-dead devices, especially the boys’ phones. They’re our primary cameras and route finders and since the plugs changed crossing the Argentinian border, they haven’t been charged. Drisdelle found an electrical goods shop last night but it was closed – we hit it up again and grab a universal power bar.
Our second task is to get ourselves charged up – albeit with food – so we hit one of the places on the edge of the plaza and order a completely ridiculous meat assortment. It’s pretty expensive so we reckon it’ll be huge but the owner, speaking English, feels confident we can finish it. It comes out and we give it a go:
Halfway through we’re covered in meatsweats and all feeling pretty lousy. The meat’s great but man… there’s so much of it, and virtually nothing else. It feels like the greasiness of my insides has permeated out to my skin. So good but so terrible at the same time.
When the owner comes back to clear the meat that we aren’t man enough to devour he asks us what we’re doing in Salta, where we came from, where we’re going next, that kind of thing. When we say Mendoza’s on deck he’s pumped, “That’s MY city! You’ve got to do the wine tours, but just take a regular bus out to the vineyards, it’s way cheaper than going with a group.” He grabs a napkin and scratches down what bus to take and what intersection we can catch it at:
Painfully dragging our meat-filled carcasses off we try to run a couple of quick errands. For some reason nearly none of the ATMs seem to work for Drisdelle or Murphy and it takes about a dozen tries to find one that’ll actually cash out. We also stop by the pharmacy where I try to buy something that’ll knock my ass out for the bus, in case the ride’s bumpy. I hate OTC sleeping meds so I try to score some Xanax or Ativan but the pharmacist isn’t playing ball, says I need a prescription. Lame.
At the bus station we grab three top-level seats right near the front of the bus – one is a solo seat at the very front while the other two are side-by-side in the second row. Drisdelle calls dibs on the solo seat and I tell him to go fuck himself. We look at the seats and the solo seat’s assigned to me… I tell him he’d better be ready to fight for it, and even if he wins I’ll just tell the bus driver some dickhead took my seat, hahah…
Saddling up it’s clear that it doesn’t really matter, all three front seats (in fact, almost all of the seats) are empty until at least the next stop (Tucuman) so we grab them. These seats are the absolute best, sitting directly over the driver with nothing but glass and miles ahead of us. Murphy and Drisdelle continue their Crazy Eights series that’s been ongoing since Peru. The scenery is awesome, with mountains and forests on both sides, the occasional pasture breaking things up. There are hardly any people in this part of the country so the road has very little traffic and it’s in great shape, making for an awesome drive.
There are birds everywhere but the number of small hawks really stand out, they’re brown and some (the males maybe?) have a red streak on their face, and they’re everywhere. Once we notice them we see them every 10 or 15 seconds, sitting on fence posts and swooping past. Later in the day, as sunset’s approaching, thousands upon thousands of smaller birds are going back and forth across the road, with one huge flock (?) going from right-to-left and then the next left-to-right and so on, a really bizarre sight.
We’re given some snacks in the early evening – a drink and a pack of about half a dozen cookies. Murphy makes a comment about this being the “cookie bus to Mendoza” which makes me absolutely lose my mind, for reasons I don’t understand. I’m giggling like a schoolgirl while the boys look at me like I’ve gone over the edge.
At Tucuman the boys have to give up their baller seats as an older couple gets on board with tickets for them. There are a dozen people waving goodbye to them while they’re waving back, both groups taking photos of the other. This continues for about five minutes unabated.
After Tucuman the sun’s down and we all nod off. In the morning we’re handed another package of cookies each.