Cheddar and Vendimia Queens

Cheddar, cheddar, yes, it’s really cheddar cheese. Who knew a trip to the grocery store would be so exciting? Here in Mendoza you have two choices: Carrefour or Super Via. Carrefour is everywhere and therefore convenient. Dirty with icky produce but convenient. Then there is the Super Via. I saw the bags being carried around town by happy shoppers, but they are in hidden little spots, not so convenient. I didn’t believe it existed. So, our default grocer is Carrefour. That was until today. Now, there is a Super Vea: clean, nice, efficient Super Vea within walking distance of our house. And as you guessed, it has cheddar cheese. First time I have seen cheddar in 8 months. And Todd spotted a carbonated wine called Strip Tease. Awesome!

VendimiaLet’s just say, little things make me happy. This weekend is Vendimia. It is the biggest event of the year, a celebration of the harvest. Grapes get blessed, queens parade around until one is chosen as the winner, think Miss America, and the enitre city is bursting at the seems with energy, even during siesta. Incredible! I apparently am a sucker for parades. Luckily, there were two this weekend. In the states we throw candy and confetti to the crowd. VendimiaHere, the kids put baskets on sticks. Didn’t get it at first. Until I saw the melons. Yep, melons. Being strategically chucked into the crowd. What the hell? And then there were the grapes, apples, toothbrushes, pasta, bottles of wine, and millions of flyers. And don’t forget the float with a moving asado that was passing out meat sandwiches. But, as the paper this morning stated, one float did do a little somethin’ for the ladies. Think beautifully oiled man, obviously no shirt, slim, trim, built and acting as though he is working hard on an oil rig. I must say it was a great addition to the big hair and ball gowns that the other floats were advertising.

VendimiaAfter the parade last night, we ran into a rogue festival. There was an Italian Festival earlier in the week in the Plaza Italia. Because something like 90% of Argentines come from Italian heritageVendimia they get to have an official festival. Apparently, the Spanish felt left out and decided to have their own display of food, wine, music, and dance in Plaza Espana. They had paella, prosciutto, fried calamari, and things I didn’t recognize. The well priced empanadas won our vote and money.

After that we followed the crowd to Plaza Independencia, the sight of the big concert.Vendimia But not before we passed the Peruvian flute act wearing North American Indian headdresses. A little odd but they were pulling it off pretty well. We clawed through the crowds and past the rows of hippie jewellery until we saw the stage. It really was spectacular. The fountain was spraying beautiful shoots of water as the light show caught each droplet as it made it’s journey to the ground. Music wasn’t so great, but the visual was amazing.

So many events this weekend, I have to keep adding because I keep forgetting. I forgot all about today. Todd went out for a run as IVendimia assured him there was nothing going on this afternoon in the park. Wrong. He was barely out of the building when I turned on the news and saw today’s parade in full effect. Today’s event included the same queen floats as yesterday, but with more bands and dancing acts. Again, awesome! But since we were late and hungry we grabbed a bite of food and watched as the acts finished. We were literally at the very end of the route. We wanted some “authentic” Argentine food, but first we had to discuss the options; lomo sandwiches, empanadss, ham/cheese toasties, and don’t forget the hot dogs. We settled on pizza. Could be considered Argentine because it is definitely not what you would find in the states. Vendimia Think more dough, less sauce, not mozzarella but some different white cheese, dust of oregano, and the requisite green olives, unpitted of course. You get used to it. It was fun to watch the performers wind down. Rapidly removing costumes and heels as the sweat poured down their faces. After water and beer, they too joined us for pizza. It was a different way to see a parade. Good stuff!

Tonight is the BIG event. The “Cantos de Vino y Libertad.” Again, think Miss America pageant. Pretty much the same with huge performances but it lasts up to 4hours long and starts at 10pm. They love the night life here. Tickets sold out in two hours. So, we will be watching the live streaming via our cerca 1980’s 12in tv. We considered sitting up on the hill and trying to catch a glimpse, but I just don’t have it in me. So, with a glass of wine and a pack of peanut m&m’s, I will be enjoying the show from our living room.

And in the meantime we are gearing up by watching TCM. If you know what movie stars Jimmy Stewart as a clown, Charlton Heston as a circus manager, and some famous blond playing a girl named Holly, let me know. It’s pretty good.

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