Cafayate, Argentina

Trip Start Feb 21, 2006
Trip End Sep 11, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sun and blue skies welcomed us to our first morning in Cafayate, a small town of about 13,000 in the Calchaqui Valleys. The laid back atmosphere of this town lent itself to lazing around the flowery main square, playing chess, eating and drinking to wile away the hours. By evening we finally managed to drag ourselves out of town, up a couple of hundred metres to the top of a nearby hill and were rewarded with a spectacular view back over the town and the vast valley. Perched on a rock, sitting in silence, contemplating the contrast of the fertile green valley spread out below us against the desolate, vibrant red mountains in the background and the white clouds fading into effervescent oranges above as the sun set behind us was a reminder of why the great outdoors beats playstation hands down. The silence was only broken by the arrival of an elderly Polish man whose name translated into english as "Beat away your anger". Scrambling up the rocks, he settled down next to us and observed the great expanse in front before engaging us in a fascinating conversation about his occupation of seeking full enlightenment through meditation. Listening to this small, gentle man´s voice as if he were speaking through a wet tea towel had a calming, almost hypnotic, effect on us and we found ourselves fully imersed in his fascinating view on life, starting with a belief "I do not exist". Walking down from that hill I think we both enjoyed an unspoken sense of enlightenment, having gotten in touch with nature and conversed with such a profound human being.

The next day we woke up early to cycle through Quebrada de Cafayate, spectacular rock formations and deep canyons that boast many "perfect photo opps". Cycling along the windy desert road against the surreal backdrop, I kept expecting to see the Roadrunner whizzing around the corner with a coyote closely pursuing on an ACME rocket. We ate lunch by a river that appeared to be defying the laws of nature as we swore that it was running gently back up the valley (and NO, we weren´t sampling any of the psychedelic cacti for lunch). The 50km cycle back to town tested our fitness and the illusion that mine was far superior to Emma´s was disappointingly destroyed when we discovered a couple of kilometres from our destination that Emma had been riding the entire day with her rear brake jammed on.

Our final day in Cafayate involved more cycling into the hills, sampling wonderful Torrentes and Malbecs at some of the pituresque surrounding vinyards, followed by late afternoon tastings of a local specialty, wine flavoured icecream! We were in heaven and all in all, two thumbs up for Cafayate!
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