‘Do you like the square,’ he asks while he sweeps the sweat of his forehead. It is winter in Mendoza, the first Argentinan city I visit, however on the coach in the sun, it finally gets a bit warmer. ‘I love the square,’ I respond relaxed. I do.
Proudly he starts talking about the square, which is according to him the largest city square in South America. Then he starts turning around and appointing to the four corners of the Plaza Independencia. In every corner, only a few blocks away, you can walk to another square, the Plaza Española, the Plaza San Martin.
Oasis in the desert
And walking to one of those squares to the quiet streets of the city of Mendoza is like a walk in the park, by all means. Trees provide shade and fresh air along almost all the streets, rare since Mendoza is supposed to be kind of a desert like town, considering the low rainfall by annual average.
But since history, Mendoza is known as an oasis; life has been made possible by irrigation techniques set up by the first inhabitants of the city, back in the old times. The irrigation systems are still an obvious landmark of the streets, between most sidewalks and street, a huge gap opens up, ready to let the water flow around the city; and precisely in these water sources, the abundant trees were able to take over the street.
The walk in the park earns its meaning as well thanks to the low amount of vehicles – compared to other cities – and the quietness, especially on Sunday, of a lazy Sunday spoken, I’ve never experienced a city as quit as Mendoza on a Sunday.
Further on, the traffic lights are well managed, so you never have to wait for hours, I wonder if it has to do with the Smart City Management of the city, which organises a educational day the day I arrive in the city.
And for those who don’t like walking at all, the city set up a bike sharing system, En Bici, however I don’t see too much service points, and actually only one that contains bikes. Maybe because it is winter and low season?
At least, the bike lanes are out there, they look secure and comfortable, and I would love to bike around; however the cold keeps me on my feet, enough experiences of frozen hands, and on top of that the distances are very walkable.
The walk in the park brings me from park to park, actually, the man was right, within a flew blocks you can park hop in the city. The biggest park eventually is the Parque General San Martin, where I love to hold a picknick, a shame that the lake is closed due to construction works, but the glimpse I could catch is astonishing.
Mendoza is my first stop in Argentina, and I must admit, It must be the first city where I’m constantly confused being in a park or being in a city. I love it, and it must add a lot to the quality of life of the people living here.
I wonder how the other cities in Argentina would be, however the norm is set high now!