One of the things I was most excited for when coming to Argentina was the ability to travel and explore the surrounding areas outside of the city of Buenos Aires. I had my first opportunity to go on a trip! We went to Salta and Jujuy, very beautiful northwestern provinces of Argentina. These provinces have many indigenous people living in the mountains and the small pueblos.
The first place we went was Cafayate, Salta, one of my new favorite places in the world, with its culture, kind people, mountains and wineries. After 24 hours on a bus, we finally arrived to our hostel, the Rusty K.
We walked to dinner at a parrilla (the restaurants that Argentina is known for, with delicious meat. Like really really good meat. there’s nothing like it in the US let me tell ya), and on the way ran into a parade! (we never understood what it was for completely) There were a bunch of different groups of people of all ages, some young children, some teenagers, and some adults, in traditional/elaborate outfits that were doing coordinated dances on the streets surrounding the central plaza. There were also cars that drove throughout the parade that were decorated with fake money and llamas and Saints (I never figured out why it was that combination, but ya know it looked pretty cool).
When we got back to our hostel, there was a group of Argentines that offered us beverages and invited us to hang out with them! They were all from Salta or Jujuy and gave us great tips that helped us the rest of our trip. One thing they recommended was for us to hike the Rio de Colorado the following day and to get a guide to take us through. We took their advice and were so glad that we did. The guide we had (Eduardo) lived in the mountains with his family (of 16 children), who has lived there for generations. It was incredible to hear about their lifestyle and how they get everything they need from the nature and animals around them. He would just grab a plant, break it off and tell us what they use it for (food, sunburns, medicine, etc.) The hike that we did had absolutely no path, we saw 7 waterfalls and were climbing rocks and jumping across rivers and into the pools. It was easily one of the most incredible hikes I have done in my life, and we would have been so lost without Eduardo.
The next town we went to was Tilcara, Jujuy, to do some more hiking. This town was more hot, dry, and the mountains were all rocky and many different colors.
When we were walking home from a hike, we heard loud music playing in a little neighborhood and went to check it out. There were a bunch of people dancing, and we found out it was their Pachamama celebration, which is the celebration of the Incan earth goddess that happens each year right before their sowing season. We couldn’t help but join in on the celebration.
One part of the celebration included a young girl herding an entire flock of sheep behind her. They followed her all the way down the street and up the mountain! Incredible.
There was a dog that followed us literally all day and would not leave us alone. He was our guard dog, and we named him “Cocamate” – the two teas they drink here in the northwest provinces are “té de coca” and “mate”
For dinner, we went to a “Peña”, which is a restaurant where they have bands playing folk music, common in the northwest provinces. One of the instruments they had was this really long horn that I had never seen before. Everyone in the restaurant was clapping along with the music, it was a lot of fun! At one point, they went around and asked where everyone was from. We were the only ones from the US, but there were people there from all over Europe and South America – so cool!
While hiking to find a supposed lagoon, we found this beautiful area and played soccer here with a few kids who lived in the mountains!
The final town we went to was Salta. It was more of a city but was surrounded by mountains, and had very beautiful buildings and churches.
We explored the city and climbed up a mountain (you can also take gondolas up) to see a view of the entire city. It was beautiful!!
It is incredible to have the opportunity to travel to so many beautiful places that are only a bus ride away from the city of Buenos Aires (my home for the semester) and have such unique experiences