Of Wings and Wines

2008.Oct.31 Friday · 2 comments

in Life

“When once you have tasted flight you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward: for there you have been and there you will always be.”

– Henry Van Dyke, short story writer, poet

San Rafael, Argentina – The next series of posts will be mostly alot of wine tasting and winery stuff – I had the opportunity to join a small press trip organized by Wines of Argentina, and while scheduling didn’t permit me to go along on the whole trip, missing out on a couple of days up in Salta, I did get to spend some more time in Mendoza. Tuesday started out not so bright, but early, with a buzz of the doorbell at a little before five in the morning. I clambered on to the minibus to greet my quartet of companions, who were far more bleary-eyed than I, having flown back from Salta only a few hours before, leaving them with roughly three hours of sleep. We were whisked to the domestic airport, herded onto the early flight to Mendoza, and an hour and a bit later found ourselves deposited there.

Map of Mendoza province with our route

At this point, we split up, with a duo heading off to the hotel with all our luggage, from there to head to a couple of nearby wineries, leaving myself and my new friends David and Rachel Cane, who host a food, wine, and travel radio show A Matter of Taste out of northern California. We’d been told by the organizers that we would then hop onto a private flight to San Rafael, which we did, almost immediately. I think our trio all had visions of some sort of small, dozen seat plane, like those that fly you around the Florida keys, or perhaps in a moment of fantasy, a small corporate jet. None of us envisioned a Cessna Super Skymaster, a four seater plane that was built from the mid ’60s to the late ’70s, originally as a military reconaissance aircraft, and later as a pleasure craft. Now, I used to have a pilot’s license, it was one of those “check it off the list of things to do in life” sort of things that I got into right after high school. So I don’t have a problem with small planes – it was just a surprise – let’s say that my traveling companions were less thrilled with the prospect….

Our pilot, Mario, performs his preflight check

Our pilot, Mario, who is likely at least a decade younger than the aircraft, performs his preflight check.


Take-off from Mendoza airport – I got to ride shotgun.

Flying over Mendoza province

Though pretty much a flat desert, the flight was punctuated by some beautiful rock formations – and we were at a low enough altitude to snap a few interesting photos…

Flying over Mendoza province

…and another view.

Landing at San Rafael

A bit over an hour later (for a 124 mile as the crow flies trip), we headed in for a landing at San Rafael… it wasn’t until somewhere around then that I realized we’d been flying south, not north (forgot about that magnetic compass reversal thing – even the GPS system is “upside down”) – I’d kept thinking “I thought San Rafael was in Mendoza, not San Juan, we must have crossed the northern border during this flight…).

Safe on the ground

We were greeted as we landed by a member of the Federal Aviation police, who came out to inspect our documents – but, where else would a federal police officer offer to take our photos with pilot and plane? Oh yes, I’m sure we’ll see that as a service from the TSA any day now. Wait, we were allowed to use our cameras at the airport, without being thrown into an interrogation room….

San Rafael airport

San Rafael awaits….


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