School results presentation of a school
Walking in the street, we saw a lot of children in uniform on the walkway near a big building : curious, we went in this building with opened doors (we can dot it, do we?) and we saw the presentation of the results of the pupils of the school of Cafayete... Each child is called and receive his report on the podium! I became jealous...in Belgium, we don't have such an honnor when the scholar year ends!!!
Transito is a centrally located bodega, opposite the better known Bodega Nanni, and despite it's modern looking exterior, the family behind it have been making wines for 4 generations.
Nanni was a more attractive bodega, but the wine in Transito was better. We went on a tour with three French guys (the tour was in Spanish but we understood most of it as the guide spoke clearly and slowly) before getting down to the real business of wine tasting.
We had already had 4 glasses in Vasija Secreta, the previous bodega we had visited, so anything probably would have tasted good to us, but the Transito wine was excellent, and we bought a bottle of the Merlot for 15 pesos. We didn't see many bottles from Transito in the restaurants or supermarkets so visiting the bodega is a good idea.
The North West Road Trip
I left for San Pedro on a bus that headed past the beautiful 6000 metre back drop volcano to Salta and past absolutely stunning scenery of desert plains, mountains and salt flats.
Salta is a nice town without being anything special. My purpose to visit there was to bike and wild camp in the valley south of the city on the highway to a town called Cafayate.
However this never came about as I hooked up with a English girl who also had made friends with a Swiss guy and then it grew to 4 as a Dutch girl joined the party at the bus station.
We all headed to the same hostal. The next morning we were joined by 3 others who were buddies of the dutch girl. Then my friend Tobi was also in town and we made friends with an American at the hostel to make the party 9.
All of a sudden before I knew it, I wasnt gunna be heading to Cafayate by bus to hire a bike and bike my way through the canyons. I was hiring 2 cars with all these people.
In one way I was happy and another I was not. It was going to be fun and interesting to travel with the others but I was losing me time in this process.
After hiring the car we found a cool funky radio station. I had the best 30 or 40 minutes dancin in the car before we heard the windows computer program closing jingle.
We waited about 5-10 minutes for the computer to be rebooted but it didnt happen. Was weird, kind of seemed like a radio station coming from some dudes bedroom.
Anyway, the drive was amazing once again to say the least. You must be all getting sick of me saying Amazing, stunning, beautiful etc but how else could I describe the nature I have seen.
The surrounding mountains full of canyons and unique landscapes with a petruding river and wacked sandstone formations.
One such canyon, which sky rocked up at leat 100 metres, we had the pleasure (only laugh wise) of listening to a bunch of students singing that bloody stupid, ridiculous play the best song in the world by Jack Black. The guitarist was good, the girls singing were not at all shy, but ofcourse the song has got to go close to beating the local music as the worst ever written. My opinion only ofcourse.
Anyway, the hostel we stayed at the first night in Cafayate was cozy and only 15 pesos for the night which is about $7.
On top of that, a street dog fell in love with me out the front. It just came up to me and jumped up and put its front legs around me. I had to give the poor thing a bit of attention and affection and a meal of beef to go with it due to its sensitive cuteness. I think I was the one who fell in love.
I had a magnificent meal of calamonies I think there called (prawns) pasta and heavy conversation with Phil, a young guy from Germany about the power of magic mushrooms.
The next day 4 of us set off in 1 of the cars to explore the valley canyons deeper while the others headed to the wineries.
Unfortunately we werent given enough time to explore the canyons deeply, but with the company I was with, getting deep wasnt a possibility anyway. Still what we did explore was divine territory and a place I would have loved to have spent at least 3 days exploring.
Later that afternoon we set off for our next port of call. A town called Cachi. It was my leg of the driving to which was alot easier this time to get use to being right hand drive as I wasnt stoned.
Still I got the most challenging leg. On single lane mostly along windy roads that you couldnt see to far beyond due to it being along a ridge. After a few close calls with on coming traffic, we arrived safely in Cachi.
Now this place was wicked despite using up probably 50% of the countries energy with the street lights. No kiding, even though it was well after dark when we arrived, you could have sweared the sun was still shinning in this town.
We got our hostal, which unfortunately wasnt the first choice as it had a boxer dog looking for a play mate companion which ofcourse I oblidged to be as everyone else checked the hostal out. I nearly lost a few fingers in the contest for the bottle a few times but he absolutely loved the chase when I got to throw it and loved being chased when I wanted it back.
After a not so great meal and a conversation with Justin the American about the evils of prostitution, we headed back to the hostal to have our last night drink.
The highlight or lowlight was a fight I had with the English girl. Well it was more a dummy spit on her behalf. I wont go into details except to say she called me a narrow minded c·$ksucker, even after apologizing for asking what I thought was a simple question. No I didnt ask if she was a virgin.
Later that night when all bar myself, Tobi and Thomas had gone to bed, the 3 of us decided to go out and play in the sun. Tobi and I found some swings and it was just like being a little boy again. However Thomas was magoted and he wandered off and we went on a search for him through the town believing if he passed out he would die of exposure.
We disturbed the peace by doing this. Dogs going off everywhere and before we knew it the police were on our case.
This was funny. The cop stuck hes head out the window and mutted something in Spanish. Ofcourse I had no idea what he said and neither did Tobi who understands Spanish which proved either this guy spoke it real badly or he was to off hes nut to say anything right.
Tobi just pointed to the stars, said solo and the cop nodded his head and smiled and drove off.
We found Thomas. In his bed. He must have walked around the block or something to get there because he didnt walk past us and he had definately wandered off originally in the opposite way to the hostal.
Next morning he couldnt even remember he had left the hostal and I had a splitting head ache from the wine.
I slept most of the drive back to Salta except for this amazing view point we stopped at for about an hour which was at 4300 metres altitude. A crazy view of a valley dense with cloud and distant mountains poking there head up from behind the cloud level. Closer towards us, the rolling green hills looked like those Ive seen in pics of the sacred valley area in Peru. This was magical. Woops theres one of those words again.
We had lunch in a place just down from the view point where a drunken local came stumbling threw a field to help direct us back on the road from where we parked. Sad but *** funny at the same time, seeing our 2 cars were the only cars within visible distance at the time.
When we arrived back in Salta 3 of the crew departed on there next adventures. The other 6 of us stayed on, but 2 were gone before I even got out of bed.
Quebrada de Cafayate
Cafayate, south of Salta, is a lovely little village. The major activities in and around Cafayate are visiting the Quebrada and wine-tasting.
The Quebrada is a long valley (about 30km) where you are able to view amazing red sandstone rock formations. The photo of El Castillo, but there are many others such as the Friar, The devils throat, a natural amphitheatre, the toad and the Obelisk. We visited by pushbike, but also managed to hire a motorbike to visit the formations that are furthest from the town
This is Santa Barbara, just noth of Cafayate. The lifes of these people is still very basic, which is quite surprising in Argentina, one of the most developped countries in Latin America.
The wine in Cafayate is great, particularly the white, and this is someone who lives in france who is saying so !