Mendoza, Argentina – Swedish Scrabble, Luna Mexicana and a Stolen T2i

7 Feb

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Mendoza, Argentina – Living La Vida Locals

For the past 2 days J.J. and I have really embraced the Mendoza way of life: breakfast in the morning, heading out on the town, siestas in the afternoon and going back out at 5pm when the city comes to life again. Then back to our hostel to shower off the day’s sweat and sunscreen and eat a late dinner.

Because of the many hours spent wandering with our cameras both late morning/early afternoon and then again in the late afternoon/early evening I have more photos to share than words to write.

The past 2 nights however, have been so much fun in very different ways.

“Where Are You From? Canada? Us Too! Toronto? Us Too!” Dirty Swedish Scrabble Ensues.

While staying at Monkey Hostel we met a Canadian couple that we hit it off with right away. Proving that it’s a small word after all, Jena and Daniel are from Toronto, just a hop, skip away from us.  We got to chatting Sunday night while having a homemade dinner at our hostel before we planned to go to Mendo Rock, an outdoor rock concert a few blocks away.

After chatting for a while we decided to each add Jena and Daniel to Facebook to see how many people we had in common. J.J. had the first hit of friends in common with Jena: Matt Barnes. From there we learned Jena was good friends with the younger sister of someone we went to Ottawa U with and Jonny, Tal and I each had about 10 mutual friends from our university days.

I was the only one to have somebody in common with Daniel: Danny Appleby, someone I have worked with while I was at Brightworks.

One beer turned into 6, we ended up missing Mendo Rock to get to know our fellow Torontonians and play dirty Swedish Scrabble. (A Swedish Scrabble board was the only one available at our hostel.)

Luna Mexicana with Jeff and Bochi

The following evening the 6 of us met in our hostel common area around 10pm and decided to check out a Mexican restaurant, Luna Mexicana, owned by 2 gentlemen that Tal and Jonny met on a patio the other day while getting day-drunk.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were introduced to one of the 2 owners, Jeff, who was having dinner and a glass of wine on the patio. It seemed it wasn’t his first glass of the evening as we very quickly learned he was 8 months into his third marriage and it wasn’t going well. In Jeff’s words, “home is not a happy place right now”.

We were escorted to the back patio and had the place all to ourselves. The patio reminded me a bit of the back patio of the Queen Mother on Queen West in Toronto.

We kicked off the evening by drinking the only 4 Corona’s in the place (a Mexican restaurant with only 4 Coronos in stock – doesn’t seem right, does it?) and a round of Toc Tocs. When we ordered the Toc Tocs we had no idea what we were ordering and while the guys were happy, the girls were grimacing when we learned Toc Tocs were large tequila shots.

Just then Jeff came from the front patio to the back and joined us, and shortly after his business partner, Bochi, who spoke a total of 8 English words, also came to sit with us.

Over far too many bottles of red wine we learned that Jeff was from Jackson Hole, Wyoming and also owns 2 restaurants there, one of which is The Mangy Moose. (If you’re ever in Jackson Hole at The Mangy Moose, ask for Jeff and I promise you good times and great stories!)

I didn’t learn much about Bochi except that his son was due back that evening from working in Hawaii, that he has a daughter, who also joined us later in the evening, and he was a grandpa to a little boy. Our exchanges in our broken Spanish and his broken English led to many laughs over the course of the night.

Jeff pulled the chute earlier than the rest of us, and judging by the Aspirin required this morning, we should have all followed his lead. But we were having such a fun time that by the time we finally said our goodbyes to Bochi and his daughter it was 4am.

Hands down, our night at Luna Mexicana was my favourite night out here in Mendoza. If you’re ever here, the food is unreal and cheap (it was about $20 a person, including wine, beer & tequila), ask for Jeff and Bochi and make sure you request Pato to be your server.

Down 1 T2i 

We got up this morning with just enough time to pack our bags and check out of our room. Jonny was the first one down to the common area of our hostel, put his bags down about 10 feet from his table and sat at a table to eat his free hostel breakfast and read some more Shantaram.

While he was reading, facing his bags, someone opened up his day pack and scooped the Canon T2i that he and Tal share, leaving the bag open and with obvious signs of having been rifled through.

The Monkey employee working in the tour office said she had noticed an Italian traveller, who also happened to be staying at the hostel, wandering around the common area about the time the theft would have taken place. The guy was upstairs sleeping and Jonny went in to wake him up and ask if he’d seen the camera and he said that he hadn’t.

Next, the girl working the front desk called the police. About 15 minutes later 4 police officers showed up and got the information from Tal and Jonny before proceeding upstairs to search the bags of the Italian traveller but came up empty-handed. They also walked around the hostel asking guests if they had seen anything.

Tal and Jonny did the only 2 things left that they could: file a police report down at the local station and begin to research the cost of replacing their stolen camera.

I may not have all of the details  as I was keeping a very close eye on my own belongings after the incident, but I’m sure Tal & Jonny will have the complete and accurate story in their blog, weare-outofoffice.blogspot.com.

Ciao, Mendoza 

Now we’re just waiting in the Monkey lobby until siesta is over so that we can do one last walk around Mendoza before catching our overnight bus to Buenos Aires.


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