NW Argentina, soon back to Chile!

When you’re traveling, you are what you are right then and there. People don’t have the past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.

And for that, don’t hold my poor blog updating abilities against me!

Life back in Argentina has been wonderful… Brazil was beautiful but I wasn’t staying enough time to get to know it well enough, couldn’t go to all the places I wanted because it is GIGANTIC, and it’s also quite expensive. Another trip of its own… When my spanish is better and portuguese doesn’t confuse me as horribly.

I crossed the border at Iguazu Falls – Incredible. Can’t even describe it, but pictures are available to look at! Half a day on the Brazil side where you get the panoramic view of everything, then a full day on the Argentina side where you get up close and personal with the unbelievable amounts of water. On the clear day, there are tons of rainbows everywhere as well. And remember while you are looking at the pictures that they do NOT do the real beauty justice! Best parts besides the waterfalls – being able to speak Spanish again and meeting a lovely Argentine couple that walked a trail with me for a good hour chatting.

Next stop was in Posadas. I stayed with an awesome girl from Couchsurfing (always treats me well!) and hung out with her and her university friends for a few days. We went to Reserva de Puma which turned out to be a wildlife rehabilitation center with monkeys, pumas of course, jaguars, birds, and other fun animals!! Botanical Gardens of Posadas were also visited. She is studying tourism so she had no problem showing me around and knew lots of fun facts. Tried Fernet for the first time, as well as tereré (cold version of mate) which was DELICIOUS! So perfect in hot weather. She also taught me how to play truco, a game with spanish cards. Yes, they have different playing cards which I accidentally bought so now I at least have a way to use them. Except that I still have to have her written instructions with me in order to play haha. We also went to the ruins of San Ignacio – preserved all the way since the 1600s from Jesuit missions. Then one of the most exciting parts… we hitchhiked back to Posadas! It was about a 30 minute ride, but the entrance to the ruins was more than expected so neither of us had the $3 we needed to take the bus. It’s supposed to be really easy and safe to hitchhike in Argentina but I never did it before since I’m always traveling alone. But with Gabi, I wasn’t worried and we got picked up after waiting only 15 minutes or so by a truck driver. SUPER friendly and we just talked the whole way into town. Probably the one and only time he’ll pick up a girl from Wisconsin! Gabi’s friend entertained me too because I don’t think they’ve really talked to someone from the states before, let alone in Spanish. Lots of questions, loved looking at pictures…  Of course I got the usual question of whether I know famous people. Perceptions of the U.S. are all over the place. But anyways, I really hope that they will make it to the states to visit someday. Friendliest people.

I arrived in the NW of Argentina a few days ago to Salta, a really beautiful city. Wandered around the center, ate some DELICIOUS empanadas… they put potatoes in them here! BEST. IDEA. EVER. At night, I went to a peña with an Argentine girl staying in the hostel and we ate a huge dinner, drank too much wine, and enjoyed listening and dancing to the folk music played by people who just showed up to the restaurant and felt like playing. Things I will miss about South America…. folk culture and everyone’s enjoyment and appreciation for it is so lovely. While there are communities in the U.S. with deeper cultural connections, generally we just don’t have those kinds of traditions. It’s hard to explain that here… and I think it’s something we’re really missing out on in the states… the type of bond that exists in tradition.

Yesterday I made it to the Quedabra de las Conchas, between Salta and a small place south of here Cafayate. CRAZY rock formations in red stone… I felt like I was in Arizona… it’s been compared to the Grand Canyon but instead of looking over the edge, we’re driving all through it! And it’s not a canyon haha. But we visited two giant formations that were locations of past waterfalls – Garganta del Diablo and the Anfiteatro. Also along the way was a giant frog, a nail, a friar with the procession behind him, windows, a submarine, titanic, a rabbit, fingers/toes, and castle walls. I am out of adjectives so I keep saying incredible! You’ll see in the pictures. Bonus from yesterday’s trip – the tour was in all spanish! Could have switched off between English and Spanish but I was the only non-argentine in the van and I understood everything she said in spanish so it was super easy. Love feeling competent with my spanish!

Tomorrow I might go on a road trip with others from the hostel to visit some other places in the area… then Wednesday I head north to the next region Jujuy. There I will stay in a smaller town Tilcara, and visit the other small places surrounding with more beautiful scenery. Finally on Friday I head to Chile to visit Mejillones!!!

Hope this is enough of an update for now! Long-term future plans: Bolivia, Peru, then back down to Chile to leave from Santiago full-circle and all… Ecuador and Colombia have been cut due to time and funds, but I’ll save them for another trip when I can visit more of Brazil and afford to go to the Galapagos Islands. 🙂 After some time at home to recooperate some savings, I hope to find a job in SPAIN!!!! Live and work in one place this time around… but still another adventure and I can continue to improve spanish skills.

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