As we leave Argentina there are so many things we are thankful to have been able to experience and that we know we are going to miss.
dulce de leche
Most of all we’ll miss the Argentinian people who were always friendly, patient with my bad Spanish, helpful, and welcoming. We’ll miss Argentina, but I know we’ll be back.
Next stop is Chicago to visit friends, family and attend our nephew Matt and his fiance Melissa’s wedding. I’ve also challenged Jeff to a White Castle slider eating contest. I’m pretty sure I know who’s going to win.
There are certain things I like in a market – produce, meat, local specialties, interesting people, and gross stuff. The Mendoza market or Mercado Central has the perfect mix of all of these things. I was able to shop, buy stuff for dinner, see cool stuff, and freak out at gross stuff.
The Mendoza market had just enough of everything. This was different than the Salta market which had way too much gross stuff for my tourist eyes to take in. Jeff wasn’t over the trauma of the Salta market either.
We just got back from a road trip to see this giant salt flat. You might think, “Well of course you’re living in the city of Salta.” But, this giant field of salt is not in the city of Salta, or even the province of Salta. It’s in a province called Jujuy. I’m not sure what Salta is named after, but I don’t think it’s this.
It’s always surreal the first time you see someone from home in a foreign country. Our Seattle friend Dean is in town and when I met up with Jeff and Dean after my Spanish class, they were in the main square eating empanadas and drinking malbac as if it was the most normal thing in the world to meet for dinner in Salta Argentina.
When Dean suggested a road trip through the mountains north of Salta, we jumped at the chance to join him.
We started in Salta, drove up to Purmamarca, continued on to Humahuaca, circled back, slept in Tilcara, then drove to the Salinas Grandes the following day.
To say the mountains and canyon were breathtaking sounds cliche, but I really don’t know how else to describe it. We went through lush green valleys, dry cactus studded canyons, a torrential downpour, dry bare mountains and ended in a blinding white field of salt. And, in between we stopped in some incredible small mountain towns.
The town of Purmamarca was the most striking with multi colored mountains behind adobe buildings on dusty streets.
In Humahuaca the city was truly nestled in the mountains with lots of craft stalls and indigenous women and children selling blankets.
We spent the night in Tilcara, a town we’ve been to before. It was fun to be able to walk the streets at night, hear some late night music, and walk around as the town came to life in the morning.
I was thrilled to come upon these hamburger patties in a store in Tilcara.
The next day we drove through part of the Andes. They weren’t the snow covered peaks you think of when you think Andes, but we did get up to 14,000 feet. I do not have that many photos from this part of the trip because most of it was spent in the backseat with my hands over my eyes. Dean drove these the mountains really well, but I don’t do that well with heights.
Once we were through this mountain pass we came to the salt plains. It was unlike anything I’ve seen before, just a giant field of salt for as far as you could see. It looked like you were walking on a giant cloud or snow field. But, it was hot and the salt crunched underfoot. We of course had to try it and…it tasted like salt.
I’d love to say that we just came upon this llama out grazing or perhaps carrying a load of goods for a it’s owner. But, in reality this was a photo op with a tourist llama. We paid fifty cents to get our photo taken with him.
We hadn’t planned a day of tourist llamas, the day was supposed to be spent wine tasting. Cafayate is the center of high altitude Argentinian wine production. We’ve been drinking some excellent wine from the region and wanted to taste it at the actual wineries.
There are several ways to wine taste in Cafayate. You can rent a car, go by bus, stay several nights, or go on a one day tourist excursion. We opted for the excursion. The tour was to stop at several sites along the way, the we’d have from 12:00 to 3:00 in the town of Cafayate. There are about five wineries in town. Jeff and I are experienced high speed wine tasters. Smell, swirl, sip, run like hell to the next winery has always been our method of tasting wine. We were confident that we could hit five wineries in three hours no problem.
The ride to Cafayate was stunning. We went through a gorge and canyon stopping along the way for photos. The multi colored rocks, and formations like Devil’s Throat alone were worth the trip.
The bus got to Cafayate around noon and stopped at winery number 1, Nanni. We had a great tasting there.
The other two couples on the tour weren’t interested in tasting wine. You can see them in the background in the photo. We left them to have lunch while we quickly scarfed down some empanadas and coffee. We couldn’t wait to taste more wine. We walked quickly to winery number two.
Winery #2 – closed for sietsta
Wintery #3 – closed for siesta
Winery #4 – closed for siesta
Winery #5 – closed maybe forever
You would think after almost three months in Argentina, we’d realize that businesses close from 1:00 to 4:00. Honestly, it never crossed our minds before doing this tour. Finally we accepted the fact that we weren’t going to get into any wineries.
We raced to a wine bar. We asked to see a wine menu. They didn’t know what we meant. We asked if we could do a tasting. The waiter didn’t understand. Maybe several half glasses? Still didn’t get it. How about just a glass of wine? No, they didn’t offer glasses of wine, only bottles.
We wandered around town, circled back and retried several wineries. Finally with only fifteen minutes before the bus left, we ran to a restaurant and ordered any two random glasses of wine. We chugged them and got back on the bus.
On the way back to Salta we stopped at a winery…just to take photos. We weren’t actually allowed into the winery. We did stop and see more really beautiful scenery.
But the tourist llama really was really the best part of the trip.