It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. -Wendell Berry
After saying my goodbyes in Guatemala, I gave myself three weeks to visit a bit of Honduras and Belize, before heading home to celebrate the holidays. After three weeks in California, it was onward for some cruisin’ and boozin’ in the Antarctic for another 21 days, before getting dropped off in Buenos Aires. All of that nonstop motion explains why I was feeling very travel weary and still uncertain about whether or not to return to California. In an effort to have a bit of downtime, I decided to visit the Eco Yoga Park, just outside of Buenos Aires.
This turned out to be an excellent life decision. Even with the daily 6am start, I was able to get some r and r and r (rest, relaxation and reflection) in nature, detox/ eat something actually good for me and get my hands dirty learning a little bit about farming. Prior to arriving I was not aware that the park was run by Hare Krishnas, but after living with them, I’ve decided that I like ’em. To their credit, some pretty special things were going on there: Chickens, dogs, cats and horses from the neighboring farms continuously were trying to make their home on the property, fireflies and stars filled the night skies, I saw a DOUBLE (!!) rainbow… it was a wonderful life to lead for a little while.
After two weeks I left my veggies and mantras behind to make my way to Puerto Iguazu and see the waterfalls like a good tourist. In the town itself there isn’t much to do, the main attraction was walking to a viewpoint where only a football field away on the right you see Brazil, and Paraguay just as near on the left. It was actually pretty fun waving back and forth, but after a 17 hour journey I was hoping that the falls would provide a bit more entertainment. Fortunately, they lived up to the hype, and were well worth the journey. I reunited with some farm friends and we spent an entire day exploring in awe, getting soaked in the process.
From Iguazu I made my way to Bariloche, a 42 hour journey to the Lake District. Bariloche was a little piece of heaven, and I spent a blissful five days hiking, swimming in the clear blue lakes found in all directions, eating Swiss chocolate and sampling local artisan beer. Paradise does exist.
After Bariloche I was scheduled to work in a hostel for the month of March in Maipu, a little town just outside of Mendoza, which is the supposed Napa Valley of Argentina. I was looking forward to it, but the hostel turned out to be a bust, and despite nearly all of my fellow travelers falling head over heels and declaring that they never wanted to leave Mendoza, it somehow failed to capture me. Instead, I decided to go north and took off for Salta.
Salta was cool, a mix of the best of Argentina and Bolivia, with my favorite empanadas of the entire trip. The town itself is full of welcoming plazas and pretty parks surrounded by colorful, colonial style buildings. On day one while exploring I bumped into Tom Brokaw wearing an NBC hat and very tight cotton sweat pants (leggings?). We obviously became best friends, but the next day I ditched him to go horseback riding with the gauchos that make Argentina famous. My horse, Margarita, was a champ, and I was able to gallop some, and it is now my new favorite thing. My last day I took a tour to visit an UNESCO world heritage site, the Quebrada de Huamahuaca. Along the way we also stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn, and explored the Inca ruins of Purmamarca. And here I am!
Argentina was a dream, I am glad I was able to go back to the place that first sparked a sense of adventure in the 19-year-old me. People remain as nice as I’d remembered, although now that I understand Spanish the way they speak makes me laugh. Aside from their crazy accent, there are tons of little differences here… For example: Instead of the regular ‘buenos días’ (good morning) found in most of Latin America, Argentines say ‘buen día’ (good day). In my mind this never fails to evoke an image of the Monopoly man prancing down the street, tipping his top hat and adjusting his monocle. “Ah, good day to you sir… And to you, madame!”
Alright, that’s all, Argentina. Thanks for everything. Tomorrow, onward to Chile. Good day!