1. In Mendoza, I rode a horse through the “foothills of the Andes,” which are not to be confused with “the Andes,” as one wine-tasting tour guide corrected a travel companion who, looking pensively off in the distance out the bus window, asked, “Are those the Andes?” It was a question that seemed all-too-obvious, but alas merited one of the most memorable question-answers of the whole trip.
But back to the horse ride: This was my favorite part of the trip, because I love anything involving animals, especially all the pretty horses. Also, one assistant to our horseback riding guide, who brought up the rear of the group, was a child who was probably around four feet high and could already ride a horse better than I can drive an automatic automobile, play checkers, or do most things that involve even a base level of skill, really, so that was a really charming addition to our journey. I also enjoyed how my boyfriend, who had never ridden a horse in his life (I had at summer camp many times as a kid, thank you Texas), wound up on a horse that kept stopping to eat, which I think kind of freaked him out since he didn’t know how to control the animal, but was also endearing, because he eats more than anyone I’ve ever met. “I’ve found me in a horse!” he beamed from his saddle, that yuppie in his fitted Deisel jeans.
2. I ate more red meat in a two-week period than I’ve eaten in a two-month period. As Boyfriend put it: “I feel pregnant with cow.”
3. By the way, if I had birthed that cow, its udder would dispense not milk, but Dulce de Leche, which I ate constantly (did you know hotels have that at breakfast down there in packets the way American diners serve jam?).
Oh and if I had birthed said cow, it would be in a private suite with a bullet-proof doors that had been renovated and secured by a private earpiece-wearing team of burly men months in advance. And I would have named this bovine Orange Palm Frond.
4. Again on the subject of consuming caloric things, because it was such a big part of what we did down there, we had a bottle of wine at dinner every night, because in restaurants they only cost like $9 or a little more, so about the price of a drink or two in New York. Our wine-tasting guide told us that Argentinian wine consumption used to be about 90 litres per person, per year, but has dipped to about 40 litres per person, per year (sissies!). The Internet tells me in the USA, it’s less than 10 — and yet, we’re the ones who have the reputation of going to foreign countries and acting like drunk ass holes, which is totally, unbearably perpetuated by the likes of beer pong and other drinking games. Since when was drinking so un-fun it needed to be done in a game format??? That’s what I always say (well, along with EW THAT PLASTIC BALL WAS ON YOUR DIRTY ASS FLOOR YOU FRAT-TASTIC LOON).
5. I had to tell some — and I say this sincerely — really kind and well-intentioned business school students at a wine-tasting that included other people not to talk at shout-level about “what $26 million can buy you in the San Diego real estate market.”
6. In Uruguay, I saw pine trees growing next to palm trees. It felt like the horticultural equivalent of seeing a husky walking around Miami in the summer with a dog coat on.
7. I spent about a week searching for the perfect pair of palazzo and/or harem pants, which are great for the hot weather and look, frankly, just plain snazzy on a lot of the girls down there. I bought a patterned and a black pair, and am thinking the patterned pair either look legit chic in a hippie-ish sort of way, or silly enough to get me photographed at Fashion Week (a thing that should rule any good fashion person’s wardrobe choices these days, obviously), or just like they’re from Chico’s and I’m a dumbass.
8. I stayed on a beach about four times as wide as any beach I’d ever seen in my life.
This was in the town of Punta del Diablo, a fishing village that swells to a population of 25,000 in the high season (now). It was an odd, underdeveloped place on which to seek out beach time, but teeming with late-teen/early 20-something people who stay mostly in hostels. They moved around the main part of town in large animalistic hordes, leering at people and openly drinking beer and laughing, making the non-horde people like us generally uncomfortable. Our hotel was thankfully removed from the hostel nonsense, and we actively avoided the center of town by our last day there once we realized it reminded us of Jersey Shore.
9. A cab driver gave me a counterfeit 100 peso bill (only about $25, but ugh, it still sucks to get conned because you’re an ignorant foreigner). Apparently in Buenos Aires counterfeit money in all denominations is a big problem at all kinds of establishments, from cabs to tourist depots, so you have to be careful all the time. One way you can tell if money is real is by the way it feels (it shouldn’t feel like plain paper), so after we Got Screwed we felt each bill up like a cheap hooker.
10. I visited Evita’s grave, and the Pink House (presidential residence) which is positively palatial and beautiful inside, so definitely take the tour so you can see it, even if you don’t speak Spanish. If you’re vain, you can keep yourself busy with the many reflective surfaces and mirrors, which are everywhere, which makes it easier to imagine that you are Madonna.