Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Christ Redeemer of the Andes
This post is part of the two day Alta Montaña trip we took out of Mendoza. Read the post here for an overview of the trip.
High above the the tunnel to the Chilean border on Route 7 is a statue of Christ the Redeemer of the Andes. And I am talking way high above the road below—3,832 meters (12,572 feet) to be exact.
My guidebook made it sound like it was just a statue placed above the tunnel that you could visit before committing to the border crossing. I was thinking 5 minutes tops for the stop and was even thinking of skipping it altogether. After all, we had customs to navigate and paperwork to fill out.
Boy was I wrong. When you get to the border village of Las Cuevas, There is a turnoff from the main road with a sign leading you towards a building with a dirt road going right through the middle of it.
There is a volunteer there to greet you and make you get out of your car and spend 5 minutes to adjust to the altitude. We recommend more. You'll need it because you are going to climb a long series of switchbacks to the top of a high mountain.
In fact, we recommend you go into the building with the road through it and have the lunch buffet. It was our first experience with regional Andean food—and man was it good.
We had a regional beef stew, a local lentil like soup, and a chicken dish. They also had a tripe stew we all passed on. Everything we tried was excellent and cheap.
After lunch we started up the dirt road to the switchbacks. Once up above the town, the view was magnificent. The drive was a little scary as giant tour buses were going up the same narrow mountain road with the same breakneck pace as if they were on the streets of Buenos Aires. Scary enough for those that had to dodge them. I can't imagine what it was like for those on the bus.
Once on top, we were blown away by how far up we were. There were views of Aconcagua and down into Chile and Argentina. In fact, you could step across the border from up there and have one foot in Chile and one in Argentina.
By the way, that is a Clilean flag and not a Texas flag. It still made me a little homesick.
The statue itself is a was unveiled on 13 March 1904 as a celebration of the peaceful resolution of the border dispute between the two countries. Kind of ironic given the disdain the two people have for one another.