27.01.2013 - 6.01.2013
27.01.2013 - 06.02.2013 35 °C
The first stop in Argentina is Salta, where I got after a long but beautiful trip on the bus. It is a very beautiful and charming city, In the surroundings of the city, there is also a lot to see, but most of the tours visit areas similar to what I have already seen or what I’m thinking I will see later during my trip.
Hence, and because my time is limited, I decide to leave the day afterwards already to Cachi. The bus leaves at 7 in the morning, but the road goes through a national park so I keep my eyes open for the amazing views. Mostly the road is not paved and very narrow. If this is not categorized as a dangerous road, I’m really curious about the ‘Death Road’ in Bolivia… Cachi itself is very calm and charming, but not that impressive. I decide to rent a mountain bike and explore the surroundings of the village, ancient ruins of a civilization that fought both the Inca’s and the Spaniards, and a cemetery. I do about 45km with a lot of height difference, so I’m exhausted by the time I get back. Most tourists just come during the day, so at night I find myself alone in the hostel…
The next day, I hitchhike my way south to Cafayate. There is no bus connection and you notice why: there is hardly any traffic. The few people that do pass by are super friendly. Whoever has some space left and goes in the right direction stops and gives me a lift. It’s an amazing experience, something you would never experience in a bus. I need 4 different lifts and mostly, I’m happy when all 4 wheels are still attached to the car when they drop me. The road is not paved (and all 165km I do were part of the 2013 edition of the Paris-Dakar rally) and the cars are mostly very old. I have nice conversations in the cars, but also with a police officer in a very small town – not even on the map – which tries to sell me weed and cocaine. The second half of the route is breathtaking, driving through quebradas (gorges), having volcanic rock formations rising up left and right from the car.
By 16h in the afternoon, the last lift drops me on the main plaza of Cafayate. I explore the small town and at night, we try to make a party with the people from the hostel. Unfortunately it’s Wednesday and there is not a lot going on besides live folklore music, which works as well… The next day I take a bike tour through the vineyards, in the area that is known for its Torrontés grapes, a variety which is not known in Europe, and in the afternoon I already take the bus to Córdoba
The first half of the journey is to Tucumán, where I arrive around 19h in the evening, giving me just enough time to explore the city ‘by night’. It’s perfect, as the monuments are spectacularly lighted at night and the views of the plaza, the cathedral,… are amazing. Unfortunately, my camera runs out of battery right after the 1st night picture… Although it’s evening and dark, it’s still very hot in Tucumán and I’m happy I can cool down for half an hour in the air-conditioned bus terminal before I take the night bus to Córdoba at midnight.
The next morning I arrive to Córdoba. After the check-in in the hostel, I leave to Villa General Belgrano, about 1h30min south of Córdoba. It’s a village that Germans founded after a battleship was sunk off the coast of Montevideo. You can tell right away, the German-style houses are all over, just like the advertisements for the yearly Oktoberfest and German or locally brewed beers, schlager music,… Of course, I cannot leave before tasting the ‘German’ beers, but it’s not my thing: way too sweet. It reminds me there must be an opportunity for making a premium Belgian beer in South America. Something to keep in mind…
Afterwards I go to Alta Gracia, a charming little town where I also visit the house where Ernesto Che Guevara grew up. I only get back to the hostel by 21h30, while the warmth is still overwhelming. I enjoy a cool shower, but it only helps for 5 minutes. Although it’s Friday, I take it easy. After the folklore party on Wednesday, the night bus on Thursday and a long & hot day today, my batteries need to be recharged…
The next day I visit Córodoba. It’s a fascinating city: mixing history and economy, noise and tranquility, locals & internationals,… If it wasn’t for the heat, I’d say this would be a sweet place to live. At night I go to Argentina’s ‘el superclasico’: River Plate vs Boca Juniors. We manage to score tickets for the sold out match at the entrance of the stadium. 2 hours before the start of the match, the stadium is almost full and people are singing already. It’s a great match with plenty of opportunities but unfortunately, ‘we’ (Bocas) lose 2-1. But the atmosphere is amazing. The fans are singing and standing by there team all match long and the referee is called ‘hijo de puta’ only once during the match. I think fans in Belgium can learn a lot…
We only get back from the match by 3h in the morning, and after a last beer in the hostel, I get a good night’s sleep. The last day in Córdoba I relax, spending some time walking around and enjoying the sun: a nice change in the otherwise busy schedule. At night I catch the bus to Buenos Aires, my last stop in Argentina. When I want to buy the ticket I notice both my debit and credit card are blocked. Thank god I can pay in dollars, but I’m running very short in cash… Unlike Peru and Chile, buses are not very punctual in Argentina and we leave almost 1h30 minutes late.
The next day my cash issues are solved and I can continue without troubles. I spend 2 full days in Buenos Aires. It’s a huge city and walking around between the different sights takes time and is exhausting. I have mixed feelings in the city. It is very nice, but it could be so much more. A lot of beautiful buildings are hidden behind trees, flag poles, modern ‘art’,… And right in front of others, they have made a bus terminal. As I’m not 100% convinced, I decide to move on to Uruguay after two days already.
When heading from the hostel to the boat to Uruguay, my wallet is stolen on the subway. It’s very crowded and I’m carrying 2 bags, and I don’t even notice I was robbed until I want to pay my taxi at the boat terminal. Luckily a friendly Argentinian pays the taxi for me and later I get a little cash from an American guy. Together with the 50 euros I’ll change, I should be able to survive the first moments!
I’ve only lost about 30 dollars (I had spent all my Argentinian money because I was leaving for Uruguay), along with my credit/debit cards, my Belgian ID and driving licence. So… nothing too serious, thank god I still have my passport!