In my last post I mentioned that its quite hot in Mendoza. I´m now under the impression that I have severly underestimated what hot means. After spending 4 days sweating at the mere thought of moving my body I am exhausted. It doesn´t help that the hostel only has AC in the common room and the bedrooms are like ovens all night long. It doesn´t really ¨cool off¨at night here so in general, it just sucks. Finally, after 4 sleepless nights I conceeded to my desire to be cool and sleep so I spent the day going from hotel to hotel. By the end of the day and hotel number 17, I finally found one that had AC in the rooms and actually had a room available for me. I jumped at a two night reservation, went back to the hostel and packed my bags. I could see the envy on my roommates faces when I said I was upgrading for a few days. A couple of girls wanted to come with me but had already pre-paid the hostal for their entire stay. Ahh the beauty of paying day by day!
I moved into my small hotel room, cranked up the AC and took a nap. Heaven, pure heaven. Not to mention, it doesn´t hurt to have a little personal space after 10 days of sharing with others. Tomorrow I will be moving into a shared apartment for the next 10 days. The spanish school I´ll be working with arranges the homestay and had many options near the town center. I decided to go with a shared apartment, I´ll be living with a mother and her daughter. I´ll have my own room and bathroom and the building has both AC and a pool which will be very handy consdiering this heat wave doesn´t seem to be letting up any time soon. The apartment option doesn´t include meals but I have free use of the kitchen and its about $80 cheaper than the other homestay option which includes dinner with the family. Considering my food allergy I figured it would be best to make my own meals and use the cost savings for groceries. The thing I love about Argentina is the abundance of gluten free products in the grocery stores. Unfortunately I can´t find all the flours I´m used to having but I have found bread mixes and some other basics so it works, far better than when I was in Chile. Kitchen here I come!
The strange thing about Mendoza, and from what I hear most of Argentina is that they have a 5 hour siesta everyday instead of the normal 2-3 hours. The stores, post office, everything closes up shop somewhere between 12-1 and doesn´t re-open until 5 or 6pm. Most of the stores stay open until 10pm or midnight and the restaurants close up shop somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. Even better is the eating schedule, many restaurants don´t open until 8pm and don´t seem to fill up until 11pm. It took some adjusting to look around and see families with small children chowing down on steak at midnight. I´m not sure how they do it, I don´t think my stomach could handle eating a steak at midnight and then heading to bed. No wonder these folks spend several hours a day resting out of the heat, they must be trying to digest the previous nights dinner. That said, as the days move along I find myself eating dinner later and later. Its now 9pm and I haven´t had dinner yet. I mean, I don´t want to look too American by sitting by myself at an empty restaurant at 7pm. As they say, ¨when in Rome…¨
On Sunday I had a rude awakening when everything was closed, other than the supermarket there really wasn´t anywhere to get lunch. All the shops and markets seemed to be sleeping. I could´t help but wonder where all the people went, until I went to the park. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday. The San Martin Park is a 900 acre park on the east side of the city, very close to where I´ve been staying. Just inside the park entrance is a lake with a 3 km path around it and more big shady trees than you can imagine. I pulled up some grass under a tree, just to the edge of the water and started into a new book. Five hours later I decided to walk around a bit in the park and discovered the rest of the city must have had the exact same idea. Everywhere I looked people were sipping tea and eating picnics in the park. It was a lovely day!