Friendships form without warning, I’ve learnt, and projecting their trajectory is an impossible task. You just never know who you’re going to meet one sunny day in Mendoza, Argentina’s greatest wine-producing city. And you could never anticipate seeing them there again – a city foreign to you both – 16 months later. Serendipity is a wonderful force. For me, it has the purple hue of a malbec, the delicate nose of a torrontés and the complicated, delicious flavour of a perfect blend.
I met Adam the Calgarian in Mendoza in December 2011 and, with our travelling plans taking us the same way – south to Patagonia, we hopped on a bus together and spent several weeks hiking up hills, mountains and glaciers; drinking my stash of rooibos tea; cooking tasty veggie meals and finishing each day with a glass or two of Fernet – the wicked Italian spirit so popular in Argentina. I was travelling with Adam when I broke my foot, and with my body strapped into a business class seat on the next South African-bound flight out of Argentina, I could not quite predict our next encounter.
But bones heal and plans change, and during my time in Toronto I ventured westwards to explore Vancouver, the Rockies, and – inevitably, necessarily – Calgary. Ten months after our Patagonian travels, in a city across the world, Adam and I went hiking in the snow, ate delicious vegetarian things, drank some Fernet (purchased in Canada at a whopping mark-up), and carved a Halloween pumpkin together with the lady in his life. More than that, we spoke about a possible South American reunion in April. I was planning to be somewhere in South America, Adam was plotting a return to Mendoza to learn more about the wine industry. But, you know, we’ll see how it goes, you can’t plan these things too far in advance.
Suffice to say that this week Adam and I met up in Mendoza once again. Together with Alex, a friend of Adam’s whose passion for wine is as contagious as his knowledge is vast, we happily drank ourselves through some of the most spectacular bottles I have ever raised to my nose and to my lips. We made home-cooked meals straight from the gods, filled with more vegetables than I have had in months; played poker while the autumn rain fell outside and, when the skies cleared, hit the vineyards. First, however, tradition: a glass of Fernet.
Seeing a familiar face in a familiar place was just the refreshing boost I needed to finish this adventure. I have a mere nine days left before I return to Canada, exactly a month before I am back on South African soil. It’s time to go home I think – almost.