Chapter Two: Going Solo

“We can’t have courage and comfort at the same time.” Brene Brown

It’s been difficult breaking free of the San Juan/Mendoza wine vortex.  Every time I get ready to leave a force more powerful than my bike pulls me back into its wine tasting, partying to all hours center.  I’ve learned to just go with the momentum as you would a rip tide.  Why try to fight it?!

In San Juan, a friend from Issaquah visited for  three days while he was vacationing in Argentina.  So fun and strange to see a friend from home!  In Mendoza, I stayed in the same hostel where he had become a party legend only a few days earlier.  Needless to say, at the mere mention of his name, I was instantly invited into the hip and trendy international crowd.  Even more important than riding my bike through some of the harshest terrain on the planet, I proved I can party with the best of them until 5:30 in the morning and still get up for the free breakfast before 10am.  Heck ya!

Wouldnt you know it, the morning I left Mendoza I stopped at my favorite gas station to use their clean restroom right before I got back on Route 40 to continue south.  Just as I jumped on my bike, a man came over to me to ask what I was doing.  Turns out he was from Bellingham, WA and had bought a vineyard nearby six years ago.  He invited me to stay at his vineyard in his adobe house and guess what I said?  That’s right!  Pulled right back into the vortex.

Okay, to be fair, I did plan to have a little down time in Mendoza.  It is the wine producing capital of South America (Malbec) and the biggest city I’ve been in since La Paz.  And,  it’s beautiful and entertaining.  But, more than that, I wanted a marked transition between my trip with Dana-and the mean streets of Bolivia and Northern Route 40-and my newly independent status.  A before and after if you will!

Another reason (if I indeed need any reason at all) for hanging out in Mendoza a few days longer than anticipated is that I had a opportunity to interview a few very interesting woman.

Let me back up for a minute…I’ve sort of alluded to this here and there, but I’ve never shouted it out.  I decided that instead of just riding along the surface of the towns and communities I roll through, I’d dig my tire treads in a little deeper and learn about the industries, culture, and realities of the place by interviewing women who are doing innovative, non-traditional or brave work in their cities, communities or homes.  If I have at least 24hrs in a place, I start telling people what I’m doing and ask if they can make an introduction for me.  Sometimes I know exactly who I’m looking for and other times I’m open to anyone.  Magic has happened!  These interviews have been transformative on a number of levels.  I’m learning a ton about the places I pass through.  I’m learning about the barriers women face in these regions and how they are defying the odds.  I’m learning that (or I am reminded) that everyone has a story to tell and everyone wants to be heard.  I am reminded over and over on the importance of listening and baring witness.  And, perhaps most personally, I am learning that I don’t have to be perfect to do this.  I’m not a documentary film maker or Barbara Walters or Katie Couric (although I pretend to be all of that!), but I am a person who is sincere in her interest and commitment to this deeper understanding.  I am learning to “Show up” even though I’m not ready because quite frankly, I’ll never be ready!


Featured photo was taken about 70 miles south of Mendoza by a motorcycle friend riding a similar route.

6 thoughts on “Chapter Two: Going Solo

  1. Thanks for another wonderful installment from your travels. I sense a book on the horizon! I love that you are bearing witness to the stories from women in the world, especially when we are facing more and more threats to our freedoms here in the US. The strength and courage of the women you are meeting and your own journey gives us inspiration that we can stand up and be brave in our struggles. Thank you, dear Denise!


  2. Hi Denise. Great update! (partying ’till 5:30 then up to go at 10:30!? Impressive! (makes me slightly nauseous just thinking of it))

    Hey, I’m curious about your plans for the results of the interviews you’ve been doing (a book perhaps)? Sounds like something I’d love to share with my daughters (ages 10 and 15)!

    No need to reply. Just thought I’d throw it out there.



    1. Thatch, trust me I paid for the all nighter! Thanks for asking about the interviews. My hope is to put them all together in a documentary of sorts. In fact, I need to ask Claudia if she knows a bilingual editor. You never know unless you try…right? So glad you’re sharing my journey with your girls. It’s important that they have opportunities to think out of the box! 😊


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