Mendoza is in the foothills of the Andes, on the main road that runs from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chile. It was totally destroyed in 1861 in an earthquake measuring 7.2 and of its population of 12,000, an estimated 4300 were killed and 750 injured. The city was rebuilt in a nearby location.
The rebuilt city has a 6×6 block core, with plazas on each of the four corner blocks and a huge 2×2 block central plaza, known as Plaza de la Independencia. Each of the plazas is well shaded by massive trees, that were probably planted during the redevelopment. From my window in the excellent El Portal Suites, beside the Plaza de Chile, I can see a huge hawk on the topmost branches of a huge coniferous tree waiting for its even larger parents to return with dinner. There are reputedly at least four hawks resident in this plaza. I suspect that they keep the local pigeon population well under control.
Plaza de Chile in the early evening
In Montevideo and here in Mendoza, it is not unusual to see jugglers performing at busy junctions. As soon as the lights change, they perform and then dart alongside the traffic, collecting contributions. Many of the characters are remarkably talented. But here in Mendoza I witnessed an unusual act at an intersection; a couple dancing tango to their own musical accompaniment. Not only were they talented, but the presence of their baby in a pram on the pavement raised the poignancy of their performance: not only were the drivers contributing but also people passing by on the pavement. A little while later I saw the couple sitting on a bench in the park, the mother breast feeding the baby. I suspect that they would have an interesting story to tell.
About a twenty minute walk to the west of the Plaza de la Independencia lies the Parque General San Martín. With almost 400 ha and 17km of roads and paths, it is one of the largest park areas in Argentina. The park contains a zoo and an open air theatre, as well as an 800m rowing lake, a football stadium, horse jumping arena, a velodrome, an athletic track, a tennis club and a golf course. And all day long, regardless of the temperature being in the 30s, a horde of runners, young and old, throng the paths.
As well as the wide range of sporting facilities in the park, there are several open air restaurants with excellent food and wine. It is not surprising that on each day of my stay in Mendoza, my feet, as if on automatic pilot, led me back to the park.