29 Jun 2012

A Stroll in Phallus Valley


Lost and Found: Iruya

The mythic city of Iruya hangs at the end of my imagination, thanks to a handful of travelers I've met southward bound. "Are you going to Iruya?" they'd ask hopefully. And then the inevitable ecstatic sigh ensues, "Ahhh Iruya" they repeat.

Needless to say, Iruya was number one on my list to the north. A tiny little colonial town squished onto an unlikely hilltop, walking up and down Iruya's streets is like training for a marathon, part based on their steepness and part on the town's altitude.

24 Jun 2012

La Casona del Molino: Salta's Last Greatest Peña

Northern Argentina's local folk music is called peña, and involves guitars and charangas (the mini guitar historically made out an armadillo's shell), deep drums made from hollowed out tree trunks and a combo of sheep and goat skin, and sometimes bamboo flutes. Notoriously the capital of peña, Salta in general has become rather touristy and the peñas reflect that. Nowadays many are more than borderline tacky, featuring over-the-top photo slide shows, bad flute covers of western pop music, and strangely clad dancers.

Lesson of the Day: Under-confidence in One's Language Ability

Upon learning the meaning of cardones (a certain type of cactus and not what I had assumed it to meant, cardinal) it became strikingly clear why, after driving miles through el Parque Nacional de los Cardones, I saw thousands of cactus and not a single cardinal.

20 Jun 2012

Middle of Somewhere (Part II): Los Molinos

Argentina's Route 40 that stretches north to south across the entire country, is virtually impassable without an all-terrain vehicle between the two little towns of Angastaco and Los Molinos in Salta. This dirt road sports fierce curves, sandy trenches, and river or two that directly bisect it. As such, no public bus goes between the two towns. Luckily enough for me however, a group of school children from Angastaco goes to school in Molinos during the week. I happened to be in Angastaco on a Friday meaning that all of the town's sturdy pick-up trucks were off to the little town of Molinos to fetch the 30 some-odd kids coming home for the weekend.

17 Jun 2012

Middle of Somewhere: Angostaca

A two-hour bus ride from Cafayate, along a winded dirt road through devastating landscape, leaves me at the corner of the dusty little plaza in Angostaca, Salta. Population: 1,200. Number of restaurants: 3. Hotels: 2. Gas Stations: 1. No: Internet, Cell Service etc... The kind of town where even the dogs know you're not from around.

Land Rights: Cafayate

On one of my first days in Cafayate, I wandered up a dirt road on the outskirts of town towards a mountain stream said to boast a number of waterfalls along its path. The two hour walk took me past a number of humble, mud brick homes the same color as their sepia surroundings, acres upon acres of vineyards and a handful of wineries. When all this came to an end, I was left once again with the barren desert scape, speckled with yellowed-out grasses, low shrubs and regal cactus.

13 Jun 2012

Ode to a Lady like Llama

Oh, you lady like llama

how elegant and smart you seem

with your coquettish batted lash

and your moon brown eyes

and your corn buck teeth

How you nibble my palm

with your two grey tongues

and your three soft lips

Oh llama, of my fluttersome heart



The excursion offers a simple solution to a tourist's logistical complication of how and where and when. For this reason, you're bound to encounter a inharmonious combination of people with unique motivations and goals for their travels. This was my observation on my first excursion ever.

First, there is an Italian couple in their early twenties, feverishly enamored with one-another yet indifferent to the stunning scenery. He spends most of the tour inventing new angles at which to capture his love on film, while she works on her blasé stare into the distance. In the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), a tremendous rock formation created by an ancient waterfall, she lies down and stretches across the rocks on her side, posing for her eager camera man.

10 Jun 2012

Word of the Day: Chivo

The word chivo literally translates to 'male goat'. In Argentine spanish (at least, but I cannot attest to the vernacular of other goat domesticating or non-goat domesticating Spanish speakers), chivo is used in an array of other contexts. Meter el chivo- put in the goat, refers to someone who cheats on their partner, and pasar el chivo- pass the goat, is often used by television and radio stars to self-publicize other the information about their

Cheese Me in Tafi


The delicious day took me on yet another bus outside of the little mountain town of Tafi del Valle. Tafi is now the summer escape for lowlanders driven out of the city of San Miguel de Tucuman by the intolerable heat. But originally, Tafi was founded by Jesuits with a ferocious desire to make cheese. A half and hour outside of the town by bus, you'll find Estancia las Carreras where the descendants of the original owners have been cheesing it up since 1779.

7 Jun 2012