Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chau Argentina

The last week, like all of them, was a good one. Last weekend my friend Eugenia and I went to a little town south of Salta called Cafayate. Amazing how friendly the little towns of Argentina can be; when we got into town around 11, the main plaza was full of people of all ages, everyone sitting around, or riding donkeys or bikes (the 2 or 3 person bikes were amazingly popular there, good memories of the big yellow bike from way back when) around the plaza, having a drink or some dinner. This continued well into the morning where you could still find people hanging out in the plaza until 2 or 3am. Everything very laid back and friendly. And the kids, in February in northern Argentina are always playing "carnaval" which means that they are have free rein to throw water balloons at anybody they want and people don`t get angry. Even women heading to work dressed in a suit, it`s phenomenal. And the bus rides are always fun as the bus is constantly being pegged by 4 year-olds by the side of the road.

The first day in Cafayate, and much to my friend`s dismay, we road bikes (individual) and hiked to a waterfall (30 or 40ft). Not the easiest thing to get to, but well worth it. And the rock that you see underneath the falls on the left you could actually crawl underneath in a little cave and come out behind the waterfall.
Cafayate is set in a beautiful valley that includes sand dunes in one part and the same phalic and arch-shaped red rocks that you would find in Utah or Arizona in another. The colors in the whole valley are wonderful and on top of that it`s wine country...so our last day, after a stressful morning at the pool, we headed out to a winery for a really good tour and some pretty decent wines. Another interesting thing was that the sky was full of white butterflies our whole time there, almost surreal. The beauty, however, came to a halt as our bus probably killed a few thousand of them on the ride back to Salta.

I now find myself in a little town in the very north called Tilcara, which is in the Quebrada (Valley) of Humahuaca. Villages of Adobe Huts dot the landscape that itself is incredible. The people here are much more of the indigenous type that you don`t find as much to the south. Pretty impoverished but at the same time cheerful and friendly people. The colors here as well are incredible, the best example of which is the Cerro de Siete Colores in the village of Purmahuaca which I just got back from a few minutes ago (I stayed for about 30 minutes...not much to do there)
Today was a lot of walking...first on a hike amongst Cacti that didn`t go exactly as I had planned. Then to a super deep canyon where I checked out a nice waterfall and basked in the river for a bit before doing some climbing in the canyon that was pretty harrowing...a long way down and not much room for error.

Anywho...this`ll be the last note coming from Argentina--a country that I have grown very accustomed to and will for sure miss. You can tell you`ve been in a place for a long time when you recognize or know the words to all the music on the radio. So then, time for Bolivia!


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