“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“Let’s make today an action-packed fun-filled adventure,” Alisha said ecstatically to Kyle, Hector, and I as we walked with red eyes out the door of our hostel at dawn.
“Alright,” I said, nodding my head. “I think we can do that.”
We were on a trip to Mendoza, Argentina, for the weekend. Argentina’s fourth largest city, Mendoza is a popular long-weekend vacation spot for many of the inhabitants of Santiago since it’s only about 6 hours away by bus (although the trip usually takes at least an hour longer because the buses have to pass through customs control at the border). This was our last day in the city and because we had already explored the majority of the city’s downtown area, I suggested that we take the bus to a small town nearby that I had read about online when I looked up “Hiking spots in Mendoza.” The website that I had found told me that Potrerillos was a quaint mountain town with plenty of scenic pathways alongside a vast lake that rested at the feet of the epic mountains above.
We had arrived in Mendoza Friday morning after being held up in Argentinian customs for 4 awful hours in the middle of the night (I am told that the process usually doesn’t take this long, so I guess we just got lucky) and had spent the day wandering the city streets and visiting the many small plazas scattered throughout the city with their marble fountains and graffiti-covered buffs of famous Argentinian politicians. It was a very pleasant city. Simply the way that people carried themselves told you that they were happy to be there; the loud the laughter in the parks, the friendly demeanor of the workers in the stores and restaurants.
On our second day in Mendoza, we took a tour of 3 of the city’s local vineyards (as well as a small olive oil factory). Mendoza is known as Argentina’s top-wine producing region for the quantity, as well as quality, of the wine that it produces and finished the day with a trip to a restaurant where I was able to try some Argentinian beef (definitely some of the meat I have ever had).
On our last day, with the first lights of dawn, we headed to the bus station and caught the only bus to Potrerillos that day. Not having any semblance of a plan upon arrival, we got off the bus and wandered down the path by the lake recommended to us by a policeman near the bus stop. After we reached the end of the short lake promenade and skipped a handful of stones, we decided to look for the trail leading to a place called Crocodile Hill. We then walked for about 45 minutes down the road where we had been informed we would find the entrance to the trail and not finding so much as a cairn, we began to realize that perhaps we had messed up somewhere. We continued to walk a little more when Alisha informed us that she needed to find a restroom. The only sign of civilization in our vicinity now, though, was a small sign that said “Argentina Rafting” posted in front of a small side road that led up a hill on our right side. Alisha hastily scrambled up the road and disappeared from view. Hector, Kyle, and I followed suit, and as we reached the top of the hill, we heard what seemed to be the faint sound of Nicki Minaj singing about flying ships. Beneath us, little kids were chasing tiny dogs beside what appeared to be lamb roasting over a hot bed of coals as American pop music blared overhead. Small groups of people sat around tables drinking beers, laughing, and gazing out over the wide river beside us. My friends and I smiled at each other and walked down below to try and find Alisha. We had yet again stumbled into some kind of commune. Apparently it was a sort of excursion base run by different families that lived on the property. Broke college students that we are, we opted to pass on any excursions for the day, but decided to take a stroll on the wide beach beside the river where we would spend most of the afternoon relishing in the sun, playing games, talking, and merely falling victim to the spell of the snow covered mountains that loomed over us. It was here, sitting on the beach with our feet in the clear glacier water simply in awe of existence when Kyle felt inclined to recite to us one of his favorite quotes about life from Thoreau’s Walden: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”
After we managed to break free of the tantalizing grasp of the mountain’s spell, we headed back to town, grabbed dinner, and topped off the day with a hike up Crocodile Hill (which we managed to find with ease this time around). Hiking up the dry, Martian terrain of the hill where we had been told tarantulas and black widows lurked, Hector and I spotted some sort of fox type creature that vanished before we could take a picture. At the top of the hill (which was really more like a small mountain), we were welcomed with one of the most majestic views I have ever come across. To our right the lake rippled in the dusk sun, behind us Potrerillos spread itself over the valley, to our left rolling hills ventured far off into the distance and merged with the sky, and in front of us the sun was slowly setting behind the immense, snow covered Andes. As we looked around ourselves, marveling at the glory of the earth, I could hear Kyle’s voice in my head. “Suck out all the marrow of life…” That is what we were doing. We were sucking the marrow out of our wonderful lives.
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<p>Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Matt Osche and my two greatest passions are my writing and my travels! I’m just your average 20-year old college student trying to “carpe diem” while balancing my studies and my passions. Having grown up in Penn Trafford, PA, a small suburb of Pittsburgh, I’ve come a long way from my humble beginnings as my semester in Santiago, Chile, is my second adventure after my junior year of high school spent in a small town outside of Oslo, Norway as a foreign exchange student. Take a look at my blog and read about my adventures here in South America!</p>