So far we are in love with Argentina!
After laxing around Tilcara near the border for a few days, we packed up and headed south to Salta, the first major town. As we cut our altitude from 10,000 feet to 5,000 feet, the drive was stunning. We’ve lived over 10,000 feet for the last several months, but finally our days at altitude are over. With all these extra red blood cells, we feel like superheroes.
Salta wasn’t much more than a stop over. All we needed was to hook up a new internet plan on the Claro USB stick so we’d have mobile internet. It always sounds so easy… until we get there.
Trust me, I’m that gringo customer everyone wants to deal with. This guys facial expression says it all.
After internet, our real mission was to head east and link up with the famous Ruta 40. The Ruta 40 is a road that stretches from the top of Argentina to the very bottom. It contains some of the roughest and most beautiful scenery in the country.
The 1st section of the Ruta 40 that we planned to drive also happens to be the Ruta Del Vino, the wine route! There are two super famous wine regions in Argentina. One is in Mendoza. The other lesser known one is here, from Salta to Cafayate via the Ruta 40. How could we miss that?!
Driving on dirt roads has become one of Sol’s favorite things to do. It’s the one time she gets to leave her car seat.
When we drive on dirt, she gets to sit on Daddy’s lap, and drive the Sprinter! Not even Mama has ever done that. So far she has driven in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Not a bad resume for when she applies for her license.
The ruta 40 certainly did not disappoint. Wow, what an amazing road.
Stevie and I have seen a LOT of wine country, so I feel fairly qualified to say that Argentina is top shelf.
On our first night we found a great camping spot right on a river next to some hot springs. Above is a picture of a gaucho (Argentine cowboy) who rode up with his couple of dogs to speak to this local woman and her daughter with their pack of five dogs.
Soleil loves her swimming lessons. We’ve got us a water baby here. Get me a tiny surf board please. And some warm water… ummm, maybe Brazil?
Sol is also starting to get mobile. Soon we’re gonna have to figure out how to control her inside of the van. We’re not exactly “baby-proof” in there.
Like her Mama, her new most favorite thing in the world is a camp fire. She goes crazy for it!
The next day we continued down the 40 enjoying another spectacular drive.
In this section of the 40 there is really nothing out there except some mud huts, complete of course with solar powered lighting, proof that we’re now in Argentina and no longer Bolivia!
I’d say that so far this country is no joke and can hold it’s own with anywhere we’ve been.
The next night we just pulled off the road to camp. There was nobody for miles. We had the place to ourselves.
At this point Sol is really getting the hang of camping. She especially loves her camping chair.
We did have one strange occurrence.
We were out there in the middle of nowhere thinking we were totally alone, and then this guy rides up on his horse. I think he was a little bent when he road up, because he immediately started singing some crazy cowboy tunes, off key with ‘changes,’ he said. He seemed like good entertainment, so I offered him a beer.
I asked him how long it would take to drive to the next town. He told me it was 6 hours by horse. Ohhkay. I asked him how long it would take to drive to Cafayate, our destination. He said if we left at 5am we’d arrive at 8pm– again, by horse. I pointed to the van and said, “yeah, but in the van, how long?” He repeated, if we left at 5am we’d arrive at 8pm. Everything was in horse hours with this guy.
He cracked his beer and poured some out on the ground to give thanks to Pachamama, which can be translated as Mother Earth. As we enjoyed our beers he told us all about Pachamama and how it’s important to respect the land because without nature we would have nothing. Stevie kept saying, Si! Si! She loves this kind of shit. All pumped up, he took another sip and said how when he was a kid, he didn’t have a washing machine to wash his clothes. Si!!! said Stevie. When he was a kid, everything he wore was made by his grandmother from yarn from their own llamas. Si!!!! When he was a kid…well, you get the picture.
Then he finished his beer, said thank you, hucked the can over his shoulder, and road off.
I spent the rest of the afternoon gathering firewood. Stevie gave me a hard time, semi alluding to the fact that I might be shucking my van cleaning duties. That wasn’t the case. My plan was to impress my girls with a real fire. But once I lit it all I heard was,
“HEY, turn that fire down before you set this whole desert on fire”.
Stevie is from LA. She still doesn’t understand that it’s not a proper fire until it sports a 10 foot flame. She’ll learn.
I’m really stoked my girls love camping. I could live outside. Every day. Every night. Matter of fact, we might just start doing that.