26th March 2014 (writing date)
Well here I am sitting in the mountains with the most beautiful view… Just sitting and looking, thinking about all the little things in life enjoying the company of my good friend Jessica who I have spent the last month travelling with developing a strong relationship and learning many new things along the way…..
Well lets step back a little, again it has been way too long since I have written… I need to think back and remember all the things I have missed. I really need to start writting a little everyday but I am always so busy and never think to do it until so much time goes…. In one day I have been in Argentina for four months!! I was planning to spend two to three months here but I have fallen in love with the Country. It is full of amazing people and places. As my Argentinian journey is nearing the end i know I will be back again soon..
I will update the Argentinian section of my blog with places i have visited and I will also post my spendings. I have kept track of my spendings with an app on my Iphone and Samsung Tablet called expensify, it is free and really simple to use. I have missed some spendings but I will give an overall figure in AUD$ also.
I am a little lost where I left things off last.. I think I arrived in San Juan to meet Marcelo who I met on Couchsurfing. It was a great experience arriving to Marcelos door in san Juan. He had the biggest smile on his face and welcomed me into his home. Marcelo spoke little Engilsh and I speak very little Español. We spent many nights together staying up late teaching each other our languages. It was difficult at times and we needed to use the translator but we still managed to have some very deep conversations and understand each other. Marcelo never ceased to amaze me with his generousity and enthusiasm. He loved that he could spend time during his holidays as he is a IT teacher in the univerities in San Juan. He lived with his mother Martha who was also amazing and cooked the best food. I never went hungry.
Marcelo loves his city and showed me around and we went to three wineries that I cannot recall now.. but they were amazing and the taste of the grapes where the best I have ever had. We went to the small museum with information on the huge earthquake they had in 1944 which destroyed the city. They have a small simulator which runs for the time and intensity that the earthquake ran. It was quite an experience. I have experienced an earthquake of 4.7 in my hometown of korumburra Australia, but this was much more powerful than the estimated 6.7-7.8 they had.
Marcelo really wanted to take me to Barreal a town 4 hours drive from San Juan. Not far in distance but a long drive due to crossing the mountains. Its a nice drive and some great scenery which is always changing everywhere you go in Argentina. In Barreal we stayed at La Qarencia which is run by some family friends of Marcelos. Its a beautiful place and you have a wonderful view of the snow capped mountains.. The breakfast is also to die for.. Freshly made yoghurt, seeds and breads. We spend time walking into the mountains, checking out some ruins and also having a look at the dried lake. The Stars at night are amaizing and I had a try at some night photography. I couldnt get the right settings on my camera until the last night! I was so excited to get a few photos. I cant wait to be somewhere with a clear night to keep practicing.
We stayed a few days in Barreal eating some really nice foods and making asado with some lovely wines. We made our way back to san Juan and spent some time meeting more of Marcelos family.. Going out for dinner and drinks. I really enjoyed myself and will return when I can to spend more time with all my friends I made. I cant thank Marcelo and his mother enough…I really cannot believe how generous someone can be when you dont know them. Its a real blessing and I know I will always hold a close relationship with Marcelo… ha ha he even said I am his adopted younger brother 🙂 I think its pretty cool.
The time had come to say goodbye. I spent nearly two weeks with Marcelo and learnt a lot of new things. I could stay for more time but I had so much to do..
4th April 2014 (writting date)
Well time to continue… I’m currently sitting in a hostel in Tupiza, Boliva. I crossed the border today from La Quiaca. It was fast and simple with no issues at all. Im in hostel Las Salares. It is quite new and very comfortable. There is rain outside which is very soothing…. I will get back to where I left off..
The day is the 28th of February and I head to the bus terminal to meet Jessica who was to travel with me for the next month. We met in Bariloche hiking in January and we spent a month talking online. She really wanted to travel the north west of Argentina so I said come along.
We spent a couple of days in San Juan seeing Marcelo again, it was difficult to communicate at first because of the language difference but we managed as Jess had a good level of english. I was still too lazy with my Spanish and it was always easier to speak in english. I had the best opportunities but didnt take them up. I learnt a little but not as much as I could have.
We went along with Marcelo and his friends again to visit Barreal and shared asado with his family while we checked out the sites. The weather was horrible when we arrived and the first night we were washed out in my tent. Thankfuly the next day was beautiful boue skies and we could dry everything out.
We went to see the dry lake which was covered with a shallow layer of water. It was so different from a week ago when I visited. The mountains were also covered in snow when they were bare..
Back to San Juan we hopped on a bus to Tucuman. It was beautiful to arrive as the city is close to the rainforest. I dont know why but I thought everything north was desert so it was a great suprise. We stayed in a really nice hostel (I cant check my notes to see the name so will update later). It was very comfortable and close to everything.
We made a bus trip into the mountain to hike a very short distance to a small waterfall, it was an easy walk and a very relaxing day. We visited the museum which was filled with some amazing insects. It blew us away and we spent a couple of hours enjoying every minute elporing the museum like excited children. It was awesome.
We went along to Tafi next where we onoy stayed short time. We didnt find much to do without taking a tour out of the town so we moved on to Amaicha, again we took a bus and did a short walk to see a waterfall. We went to the Pachimama museum and were blown away by the architecture and art by Hector Cruz. All the buildings are made with buetiful rocks and his paintings are beautiful. Definaltey a must visit if you go to Amaicha, it was the highlight for us.
Again we moved on and found Cafayate, instantly I felt super happy and like I was at home. It was very comfortable and we spent a while looking for a hostel! We wanted to find somewhere nice that had a good kitchen were we could cook and save some money. After walking around in the mid day heat we finally found a nice place hiding it self. Again I have made the mistake of not taking notes and we have done too many things and been to too many places my brain just wont remember.
Well we ended up staying 6 nights in Cafayate. We walked around the city, ate some wonderful food and cooked some amazing meals! Jess really loved cooking and I sure do miss it after only one day.
We took a couple of tours which lasted around 6 hours. One through the Quabrada, filled with amazing miuntains that have many sacred sites and also the most amazing colours. The cost was 100 peso and the driver took us to many locations 50km out of the town towards Salta. Worth the visit. Our next tour was to the 7 waterfalls just out of town which requires a guide, I think it was 130 pesos. It was a beautiful walk through the mountains on some steep terrain to see some wonderful waterfalls.
There always comes a time when you need to move on, just so you can see the many places….. then decide where to return.. there are around 4 to 5 places inwould definitely consider living in Argentina, I will explain when I complete my overview of my travels later..
Next on to Tilcara, a nice town on the side of the mountain quite frssh and small.. there are some nice walks lose by to a waterfall and a dry lake. We also visited the ruins next to the town, these are all recreations and not actual ruinswhich are scattered all around the region. They would prefer you to visit these to preserve the other ruins. We only found out because the locals told us. From here we took a bus to Purmarmarca where we found a tour to the Salinas Grandis salt flats for 90peso.. it was amazing to see the salt and feel how tough it is, they say its as tough as granite and you can see this because the build houses from bricks cut from the ground.
Our final move north was to Iruya… we boarded a bus for Humauaca where we needed to wait one hour for a transfer bus.. we spent the hour having lunch in the plaza where we were greeted by a young girl asking for food, we gave her a banana and asked where her parents where.. she was not shy at all. Learnt from a young age how to ask for food, other wise I dont think she would eat. Another young boy was talking to a young couple and was giving them all the information about the town as professionaly as a guide. He deserved his tip but its sad to think a child at 7 needs to do this for his family, wow such a different world this is.
Our next bus was to take us on a windy road up to 4100 meters through the cloads, the temperature dropped quickly and we winded back down through the mountains as we watched the day become night.. finally arriving to many woman with there printouts to come to their hostels which are run in there homes. We spoke to a few and decided on one. We had a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the mountains, it was bliss.
We relaxed and took some short walks. The weather wasnt great and feeling a little worn out we didnt take the hike to San Isidro which is highly recommended. We cooked our lunch but bought dinner at the hostel. A nice home made 3 course meal with empanada/tamal, oven baed chicken with rice or milanasa, then to finish off a nice pancake with dulce de keche for 35 peso.. we were regulars here and soent 6 nights because we loved the place. Well all good things must end….we found a remise taxi that would take us all the way to Salta for 150peso each… this was as much as the bus and so much quicker due to such windy roads.
I made my way to the bus station to move on to the border town of Argentina La Quica, found a nice hosteo for the night.. El Apolillo, great people with the freshest bread for breakfast and good advise about where to go and crossing the border.
Final move onto Tupiza in a van for 20 Bolivianos… now relax then head on a tour sunday to salt lakes etc of Uyuni…
Forgive the rush of this update… well delay then rush to write.. I dont think internet will be great from here, I will try and upload with some photos…
Thanks again and speak soon!!