Back into the Andean Foothills
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
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Eager to make up some of the time we had lost, we headed north-west across the plains and covered 750 km in one day. Although expecting more of the brown, dry pampa dominating the southern landscape, we were pleasantly surprised to note extensive areas of very productive agriculture for the first few hours. Winter wheat, corn and soybeans at various stages of growth, were interspersed with large sugarcane estates
Bypassing Santiago del Estero, we continued on to Termas de Río Hondo for the night. Why anyone in their right mind would search out hot springs when the temperatures were soaring is anybody's guess. However, even the most basic accommodations in this small town that is located on fourteen thermal layers, offer hot mineral baths, so we enjoyed our evening happy hour relaxing in the lukewarm pool at our campsite. Still being out-of-season for Argentineans, we often find ourselves being the only visitors at the various campsites - well, on week nights that is!!
Next day brought even more contrasts - the hot, humid air gradually gave way to a drier, more comfortable climate, and the hazy outline of the Andean foothills in the distance brought smiles to our faces. The precipitous, winding climb through lush, subtropical forest to Tafí del Valle at over 6,500 ft was rather spectacular
Having already visited numerous Argentinean wineries, we might have been excused from yet another tour. However, the Cafayate area with its hot, dry and sunny climate, is famous for its "Torrentes" white wine - something that we really looked forward to experiencing in the stifling heat of the day. While sampling a chilled local specialty at the Bodega La Banda, we met Jason and Claudia - a young couple from Sydney, Australia, travelling for a month or so in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Within minutes, we had established an easy rapport, and thus spent part of the next two days enjoying their company and swapping travel stories. A medical doctor, Claudia had recently been working in Guatemala and Panama before joining Jason, an engineer who flits around the world managing the installation of dairy processing equipment in many different countries.
Next day we invited Jason & Claudia to join us for an afternoon of exploring the Quebrada de Cafayate
As for DC3 - well, she's running beautifully on the long runs, but has again started cutting out and idling erratically at low speed. Perhaps we'll have to replace the Idle Control Valve and/or Control Unit after all - but here's hoping the problem will correct itself in due course, as it has done several times before.