Click here for pictures from Chilecito, Cuestra de Miranda, and Talampaya.
Well, looks as though another few days has passed by yet again, and I find myself in yet another city, at another impressive Internet cafe. I am now writing to you from Mendoza, the second most important city in Argentina. It is a pretty impressive city, with a heck of a lot going on. However, I´m getting ahead of myself as usual. Let´s backtrack to the one night in Chilecito, and the one night in Tucuman. After my last post, I had just a little time to kill in Tucuman before heading out for supper with the gang yet again. Our tour guide once again made a fairly half-hearted attempt at letting us know what was going on, then gave us a quick restaurant recommendation, and yet again disappeared. This man is turning out to be quite an enigma. Surely he must realize at this point that his likliehood of getting any decent tip money off this group is dwindling, right? Who knows. I, however, don´t plan to dwell on it. We headed over to the general area he pointed out and did manage to find a nice restaurant. As it turns out, finding a place to eat really isn´t that big of a chore. There are restaurant´s aplenty everywhere you turn, all of them churning out very respectable food. After supper, I went for a brief stroll with a couple folks from the group, then turned in early, we had an early bus to take us for the next leg. This leg involved a public bus from Tucuman to La Rioja, followed by a private bus from La Rioja to Chilecito, a rather small little town nestled in the desert, not far from mountains, but not the highly anticipated Andes. That would come soon. Read on…
Try as I might, I was pretty much unable to sleep on the bus, which is nothing new for me. Upon arriving in La Rioja, we were greeted by our next driver, who drove us to a gas station of all places for lunch. Too bad, I had been hoping for some local empanadas and cerveza for lunch, but had to settle for a pre-packaged sandwich, and some salty snacks. Post meal, myself and another girl headed down the street to pick up a beer. We had a devil of a time doing so. The lady wouldn’t sell us a beer, simply because (I think) we didn´t have an empty to exchange for it. We ended up getting some screw-top kind of beer that they could sell us without hassle. Odd. Little things like this pop up all over. It´s really just funny. Piled back on the mini-bus, cracked the beer and settled in for another 2.5 hour drive. Jody and Sandy (Aussie girl) couldn´t make the whole trip without the need to have a ´technical stop´. The desert was no doubt greatful. Ha ha ha. The depressing part of this trip was that on the mini-bus, we ended up watching Flight 93, the movie about the plane that crashed in Penn. after the passengers tried to regain control. Tack about a depressant.
Arriving in Chilecito was a very surreal experience. A desert car rally, of all things, was just wrapping up in the town square. The awards platform location? Yup, right under our window! It was hilarious. All teams were getting trophies, and they´d drive their extremely loud rally cars onto a platform and gun the engine while announcers touted each team´s performance. We could tell it might be a loud night. As usual, we had to be up for an early bus the next morning, as we were heading to Talampaya National Park (a UNESCO site). We feared the worst, that the locals would be up all night parading around with their cars and such. We´ve gotten quite used to really loud cities wherever you go here. However, Chilecito took the cake. Loudest small town ever. Other thoughts and notes on our 24 hours in Chilecito include, trying to get into the Cactus botanical garden, to find it closed. A few of us going for 6 peso all you can eat pasta in the square. 5 peso shower after desert trip. Good ice cream, good wine, crazy raving lunatic man getting angry at dogs. The dogs ganged up on him and wouldn´t stop barking at him. Very bizarre sight again. feeding the same dogs later from our cafe table with our leftover pizzas. Oh yeah, Kev, another reason to visit, ultra-cheap, good pizza. I´m talking about 3 bucks for a full pizza! Anyway, that´s it for Chilecito thoughts. On to the park. Next post please….