A much brighter day!
Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
57Trip End Jul 01, 2011
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But before I start describing the day, I have to highlight the importance of having the right equipment when you travel. It was raining a lot when we woke up and after looking at the big puddles of rain water outside, it had been raining for hours. Our stuff inside the tent was completely dry. The others around us were not as lucky and we saw plenty of people getting out of their tent with their soaked sleeping bags and belongings. I highly recommend our tent by Sierra Designs. It weighs only 2 lbs and it does the job. The model is Flashlight 2.
Back to Jose, he picked us up on a van that originally only has front seats. He added back seats, that were hard and detached from the car, which means that every time he hit the breaks, we had to press out feet hard againt the floor so the seat would stay put. Of couse, no seat bealts. Jose is a reasonable driver, so I felt as safe as possible in those conditions.
What I have learned on this trip is that most businesses do not pay taxes. They don't issue receipts, and when the do, it usually says that it is not an official receipt. The consequence is that there is no money for public works, especially in the north of Argentina. Rather than having bridges along the roads, rivers run over them. So when it rains a lot (as described above), cars really need to cross fast moving waters in varying depths. We came accross a big one, and lots of drivers were waiting by the side of the road, wondering if the could go through. Jose, who is from the area, stopped for about a minute, downshifted to first gear, and braved the rough waters. I had the camera in hands, so managed to get a picture of this adventure (which one day I will get to post here). We made it and then all the worried drivers followed Jose's footsteps.
The first stop we made was in Infiernilo, which is supposed to be a lookout. Tough luck, all we saw was clouds. But soon after the sky opened up and we could see the beautiful scenary. We saw cardones - the giants cactus that you see on bang bang movies. They grow 1 cm a year, and we saw some that were about 8 meters high, so you do the math.
The next stop was at the Pachamama museum, which was amazing! The exibits were educative, but the most impressive parts were the buildng and the garden. Check it out online. http://www.welcomeargentina.com/tucuman/pachamama-museum.html
Next, we made a stop at Ruinas de Quilmes (Quilmes Ruins), which are the ruins of an entire town where the Quilmes indians lived. The ruins are managed by Indian decendents, who try to krep their traditions alive. They do guided visits to the sight themselves, which makes it very interesting. I am glad that we came this far, because I learned some more about the pre-Inca civilizations.
Then we headed to Cafayate and had a great end of our tour with a visit to Vasija Secreta winery. The guide was an interesting character. It seemed like she was trying to educate wine illiterate Argentinians on the differences of "tasle wine", "tretra pack wine" and "fine wine", on how to serve wine, rules of drinking, etc. She said it on a bossy way, but informative nevertheless.
Hostal del Valle is a paradise here. The room was not fabulous, but the service and the hostal was very pleasant and recommended.
We finished te day with great fresh pasta, fresh salad and more Torrontes! I like it here!