Road Trip in Argentina

“Ekambu che embore”, I blurted out as I was trying to contain every bit of anger, frustration, and hurt that filled my body, as I was arguing with my host brother, who would always disrupt my class, refuse to participate and do whichever method it took to get me mad. Only being 23, without any desire to teach in a formal classroom setting, I am still learning how to manage a group of teenagers, grumpy, hormone-filled, angsty teenagers, who I am trying to teach and talk to in two languages at the same time.. and in the instance, when my host brother, someone I adopted as my family, always treats me terribly in class, broke the last straw and I blurted out one of the most

feo

phrase I know in the Guarani language to try to calm him down. Well rather than how I thought he would take it, he instead took it so personally that he forbade me from ever going back to his house, and threatening to call my boss

to tell her what I had done. Fortunately, I nipped that one out and had already called my boss to tell her, and luckily this all happened right before my planned road trip in Argentina. So as you can all imagine, this roadtrip came at perfect timing to cool off the nerves of my host family, and also give some of my students the idea that I went back to the States (not my plan, but

asi son los Paraguayos

and how they think).

I started my trip to Argentina with only 2 hours of sleep, as Peace Corps had just had their tri-annual party

Ahendu

where volunteers show off there musical talents and “let go” from the stresses of living in the

campo

. I arrived to the terminal at 6 am, looking out for a mysterious short bus, numberless, without a reliable schedule, without a destination sign, that read Falcon on the top. I waited nearly an hour looking out for this bus, thinking I would have to give up, and pay for a very expensive taxi to drive me over to the other side of Asuncion, where I would be meeting up with my friend Nate to start our road trip. Luckily, the Falcon arrived and took me through parts of Asuncion I didn’t even know existed, up into the desert like Chaco, and spitted me out at a bridge that divided Paraguay from the Argentinean boarding town, Clorinda.

From there I managed my way through customs and along the way met a very fashionable Asuncion lady who offered to drive me into town to the terminal, where Nate told me to meet him. I got to the terminal, waited patiently as I was constantly being looked at, as if they had never seen someone as white as me in their city. Could have been true as Clorinda is not even close to being a tourist destination.

When Nate finally arrived we set out for the 11 hour or so drive to end up in the beautiful Salta mountains of Argentina. Unfortunately police stops, getting lost, tiredness, and warning of bad roads, kept us in a small little town in Argentina called Pampas de Inferno (grasslands of hell), here we shared ice cream, salami sandwiches, and wine for dinner, then called it a night as we wanted to make it to Salta at a decent time, so we left the hotel at 5 in the morning. I was asleep for good portion of the time, apart from the occasional jerking of the car as he avoided hitting the many herds of cattle, sheep and goats that would be crossing the street. It wasn’t until we got to this unusual part of the freeway that was loaded with pot holes and groups of birds walking in the middle of the road, that a smooth drive ended up being comparable to what you would see a beginner playing Mario Kart. This 50 km stretch of pot holes put us so far back on time, that we missed out on some of the known things to do in Salta. However we fortunately were able to get up to Jujuy to visit some of the small towns where the Incas used to live, try chewing on Coca leaves,

chicken-fried llama,

and a botanical garden that’s main feature was the plethora of Cactus species that exist within Argentina (they’re many).

Two days or so in Salta, wishing we had more to get a feel for what this mountain city was like, we packed up our bags again very early, to head down to Cordoba, with the plan to stay in some random town at the halfway mark.

When we head out that morning, we drove through an amazing Ruta that took us through a national park, and into the Salta wine country ( not as impressive as the world famous Mendoza that I had just visited a month before), and got us loss in tiny small villages of Argentina, dustry dirt roads, and eventually somehow we made our way back to the main ruta (towards Cordoba).

With some hesitation of where we are, Nate asked a couple on the side of this random town for directions, and due to their kindness in helping out, and large backpacking packs, Nate took them in as hitch hikers. They ended up being

a lovely Argentinean couple, who have been traveling all around South America for the past 7 months, now on their final destination to tierra de fuego. It was great to have them along for the next 5 hours of the drive, as we got lost together, learned about Argentina, and head a lovely romantic story of how they ended up on this journey. We made it to a random town at the half way mark, and ended up in a hotel that had about 8 beds in the room with matching bright orange bedding. We were all exhausted as we had been in the car for over 11 hours, that I immediately wanted to sleep. And we were in for an early morning trying to make our way to Cordoba. 

Continuing through mountains, country side, and getting loss many of times, we made it to Cordoba with just enough time to find a parking spot (very difficult as it is the second largest city in Argentina), meet the people that we stayed with in the abnb, and find ourselves a traditional Argentinean meal of asado. Knowing my meats from living in Paraguay, I opted out of the sampler parilla that Nate got filled with intestines and heart. It was a great meal; paired with some great beer, and like before all the traveling exhausted us we did that day. It was another early morning, 4 am to be exact; that we were on the homestretch to the city I was most excited to go to, Buenos Aires.

We arrived in Buenos Aires in the mid afternoon (first day we were somewhat on time and not rushed), we relaxed in the city, and treated ourselves to Argentina’s best sushi restaurant. Now although it doesn’t compare to what we have in the states, from Paraguay standards and being a year in to service, the food was amazing. After that we stopped by a few bars that seemed like cookie cutter duplicates of what you would find on State st in Santa Barbara.

It was amazing to see so much of Argentina like that, we traveled thousands of km, saw parts of Argentina that the majority of Argentineans haven’t even seen, it was pretty incredible. But after that week driving all over, I was quite happy to get back to the slow lifestyle of Paraguay, where I can look around to the vast green country side, drink cold terere, and not have to restrain my self from using Guarani, as the people actually understand me. So then I headed back to Paraguay, nearly 24 hours later on bus, to my beautiful home in Maracana. 

The Beautiful Ruta 40

Llamas in Jujuy!

Botanical Garden

Mountains in Salta

"To protect the environment, is to protect ourselves" Amazing sign

"La garganta de diablo"

Frog rock

Pure Coca leaves

Small Village north of Jujuy

Cute Restaurant in Salta

Winery in Salta with Torenntes grapes. The plant is taller than me and can make up to 60 k of grapes. 

Travel & Foodkelseymeaton