Thursday, 29 November 2012

Flying visit to Argentina

We left Bolivia via the border at Villazon and our first stop in Argentina was Humauacha. It all worked pretty smoothly, taxi to border, visit two border offices, out from Bolivia and stamped into Argentina. Humauacha was a quaint little place and we just did an overnight as our first real stop was Salta in NW Argentina.

 Salta was busy and hot and the accommodation was expensive and some of it grotty. Eventually we got a small room in the Plaza hotel, right on the main square........we didn't have a window so we could have been anywhere........but it was clean and comfy and had air-con. We had already met several people who had travelled in Argentina and said the prices were crazy so our plan was a little sortie here and assess the costs and decide what to do.

Our first night in Salta we had dinner in the square and enjoyed the evening temperatures. We booked our onward travel to Cafayete and a horse-riding trip with gauchos!! Chris had never been on a horse and I once let Amy persuade me to get on one in Ireland and didn't really enjoy it.

We wandered around Salta and came across the Union of Syria and Lebanon .............mmmmmmm. Apparently there are lots of these social centres across Argentina. They made fabulous home cooked food at very reasonable prices, I had delicious meat loaf and lovely bread pudding!!

We were ready bright and early for our horse riding but there was confusion about what time were were to leave, eventually we left at 10am or 10.15 Argentinian time!! Our host was David a huge bear of a man who had played rugby for Argentina under 19 and then shattered his ankle and couldn't continue. We picked up 2 other guests for the day and headed of to the finca. Our co-riders for the day were two Austrian brothers who were actors, one on the stage and the other in film.........the latter had whisky and fags just to leave Salta and a beer as soon as we arrived at the finca. He took his hip flask riding and most of the time he was pale , sweating and had the shakes!! Daaarling!!

We had  great 2 hours on 2 very gentle horses, wandering around he lovely countryside . Afterwards we had lunch of asado and salad washed down with wine.......a lovely relaxing day

For about 48 hours I thought I was going to continue on this trip alone, Chris' sister has had a lot to cope with at home and he was feeling like he should go back to the UK and be with her. However he spoke to people at home and he decided to continue.......

Our next stop was to Cafayete, a wine growing area!! A lovely little sleepy town, we booked a hostel on the outskirts of town. This was fine most of the time, and it was run by a laid back guy called Geronimo. The Spanish in this part of Argentina is very hard and sounds more like Italian!!

We had a nice relaxing weekend, Friday was the day of wine so there was free tasting at the wine museum and we did a couple of bodegas too.

 On Sunday we at at the market restaurant with the locals and had a lovely asado and salad and of course wine!! I went to mass in the lovely church and it was very lively with lots of singing, there was no service sheet but I get the gist of the format of the advantage of every mass being the same!!

As we got back to the hostel on Sunday night we could hear  a party in full swing ( Monday was a holiday) and we weren't able to book a Monday we got up at 4.45 and had to walk the 40 minutes for the bus with our luggage, thank heavens for wheels-which even managed the first bit which wasn't paved. The party finished at 5 am and the locals were all on their way to bed as we left.

Our 6am bus got us to Tucaman and we stayed in hostel a la Gurda, a new place run by a family, only been open a month and still a few teething problems. By this point we decided that the original plan of a 2 months in Argentina was not affordable, prices are between 50-100% more than when we planned and Patagonia more expensive again.....and it will continue to rise as the economy worsens. We were at the limit of our daily budget and would have spent 2 months constantly thinking about money and not able to do some of the things we wanted.

We booked an overnight bus from Tucuman to Mendoza, 13.5 hours.........and it cost us 505 pesos, about £70. So we had a whole day to wait in the heat of Tucuman, not my idea of fun. The good bit was the bus terminal is air conditioned but that did not help when we turned up for the bus at 7.30 to find it was late!!!No explanation and certainly no apology!!

Anyway it wasn't too bad and we are now in Mendoza in a place called "wine apart", where we booked a room but they have given us a suite, so we have a kitchen and a bit more space and a little patio. Chris cooked chicken and veg in a BBQ sauce last night and it was good to have veggies!!

Today we are hoping to book to horse ride again tomorrow and then Saturday we head to Chile, to Santiago where we have booked an apartment for a week. It is in the centre, opposite the market and I am looking forward to a week of home-cooked food. We will use the time to sort out Plan Z and think we will head up the Chilean coast and back into Peru before working out a route to finish the trip in Iguazu as it was my number one must do and sod the expense we can have a couple more days in Argentina before we head to Sao Paulo for our flight home.

Sorry no pictures this time, over the last week or so I've lost interest in taking them..........but normal service will be resumed next time.

Take care, where ever you are

Norma xx

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