The week started off with me still in San Yuan having spent the night for free in the Tennis player’s hotel. I woke up ready to tackle the rough job of hitch hiking in 40 degree heat. While eating breakie I got a call off David (the man who picked me up the day before) saying they were going to pick me up from the hotel and bring me to their holiday home for a traditional family bbq (Assado) and I had no choice in the matter.
When I arrived to their huge country side home we all took to the large swimming pool while the BBQ was in full swing. We spend the day eating, drinking (the family are pioneers but they supplied me with the best of vino) and swimming. The Dad refused to let me hitchhike and drove me straight to the bus station were he insisted on paying half the bus fare for me to go on the 20 hour journey to Salta at 11pm that night. The clann had me well prepped for my bus journey with lamb shank, 8 cheese sandwiches, grapes, beer, wine and spanish bible! Never been better equipped in my life. The whole family brought me to the station to bid me fare well while screaming hasta luego Roxy (loving my new name!)
I cannot describe the effect this family had on me. After a few rough weeks they picked me up at just the right time. Travelling is amazing and you see such amazing places but for me it’s more about the people you meet. I left San Yuan with such fond memories of this special special family.
The journey to Salta was a dream and I think the beer, wine and sun stoke helped me sleep for most of it. I decided to give coach surfing another go after the success of the last time. I really hit the jackpot on his one. I ended up contacting a guy called Mati who lived in the woods 20 km outside of Salta (already a Yuan warning sign). Luckily he picked me from town on his motorbike and almost had heart failure when we saw all my baggage!
Mati is a motorbike fanatic and has over 12 different types in his garage. He has the coolest job where he takes groups of rich people around Patagonia and other parts of SA on BMW motorbikes. I was lucky enough to stay with him while he was on holiday so he was kindly my tour guide. We got on so well I ended up staying with him for a week. I managed to get the nod to a camping trip with his motorbike club the following day to a place further north called Cafayate. I obviously had to eventually tell him I had no idea how to ride a motor bike luckily he was still more than happy to let me tag along. My spanish is still fairly shocking but having spent an entire week with motorbikers I now speak motorbike spanish. Literally every single conversation evolves around the motor bike. All I’m missing are a few tatoos and leather jacket and I’d fit right in (don’t worry Dom couldn’t be arsed with tatoos you’ll be glad to know). Motorbikers are also obsessed with lanyards (the string around you neck) as am I!! So happy days I get to suss them out with some Nutricia merch!
En route we got a puncture but the experts were quick to the mark and had it fixed in a jiffy. My valuable contribution to the rescue team was supplying the water!
We stopped off at a few view points en route and had the most delicious lunch of meat empanadas, Salta is famous for them and I can see why! (my best since arriving in South America). It was amazing travelling on the motor bikes and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking. Beats the bus any day of the week and an added bonus I don’t puck!
When we arrived in Cafyate the guys knew a guy who owned a bar so we camped our there for a few beers. Dinner was a lomo (which is Argentina’s famous steak sandwich of steak, ham, egg, cheese, lettuce, toms +/- chips and of course mustard, mayonaise and salsa). It’s no 147 but hit the spot. With a final few beers we camped out another bar with local folkore music! Absolutely gas I even got my own tribute song.
We pitched our tents in the mountains beside a river. Poor old Javi had no tent and was flying solo. It brought me back to my sleepless night beside Chile’s glacier. It transpired Javi actually had a tent but wanted to challenge himself to a sleep in the wilderness! Strange, but we’ve all been there I suppose…..
The next day Mati took me to one of the local vine yards for a free wine tasting. Cafayate is famous for wine especially its torrontes white wine. Delish.
Back in Salta, Mati’s neighbor with dolla dolla bills invited us chill at his holiday home with a massive pool for the day. A welcomed break from the heat. Later that night we got the nod to a BBQ he was hosting. It was one of the motor biking gigs so needless to say I was the only gal there which was actually ideal. It was a serious spread of half a cow and dozens of chickens. After the meat sweats a professional singer was brought in for some traditional Argentinian music absolutely ludicrous stuff. Being the only girl was the dream you are guaranteed a constant supply of meat and drink and get offered everything first.Folklore is the traditional music of north Argentina it kind of screaming opera (a bit like my own style of singing) it’s amazing live but not the kind of music you’d want on your i-pod (unless you want a migraine). Professional singers just for an average bbq!! The clientele at this BBQ were a different calibre with most of them being owners of BMW motor bikes which cost a whopping 40k in Argentina!!
When I arrived in the north of Argentina I had no idea what carnival was but randomly happened to be on the week I arrived. Mati asked me if I wanted to go that it was the countries biggest party. He said he was motor biking to 3 different carnival festivals that weekend and that I could tag along. Not needing any persuasion I said si.
Everyone in Argentina gets Monday and Tuesday off work for carnival so the party goes on all week with everyone flocking to the north (the most famous place for carnival). The 200 km drive to Tilcara was stunning. The landscape changed so quickly, at the beginning it was windy jungle roads and then dry red cliff rocks. Carnival is definitely the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. There are loads of devils dancing on the streets. The myth is once the devils are on the street you can act insane and do whatever you like (suited me down to the ground). The minute you arrive be prepared to be covered in paint, powder and foam. It’s definitely not the place for the glam squad (which obviously I am not so definitely my kind of gig). O it kind of reminded me of our ice cream costumes which started off tame enough and then as per usual escalated into us resembling wild beasts. I’d have it no other way!
The party is all on the street with parades of babies, children, adults and old people acting absolutely crazy. There’s is street music 24 hours a day 7 days a week with the most amazing performances ( Latin Americans can actually dance!).I’ve never seen such happiness wedged into one small village. I got destroyed with foam my the cutest old man! It really doesn’t get better than this.
The next day looking extremely rough we ate some choccie cake for breakfast and packed up and headed off to Carnival day 2 in Humawaca (50 km away). Before leaving I got chatting to a few rich old man staying in the hotel where we pitched our tents (a different calibre). I forgot that my entire face was covered in black paint as I was sweet talking to an esteemed neurosurgeon. I was putting in some ground work to get a taste of their grub. They were in the height of preparing lunch (which looked sensational). I secured some expensive wine and a chunk of good cheese not great but better than nothing!
Lucky again with destination number two Mati and Javi’s friend owned a hostel so we pitched our tents there and left the bikes somewhere safe. Humawaca village had a smaller and cosier vibe and the party seemed a little more chilled out (that soon changed). No one is safe (especially girls with pale skin, freckles and clean people). There are people all over the streets with pots of paint, powder, foams waiting to attack. I ended up getting destroyed by the foam. My eyes ended up swelling up really badly that the following morning I could barely open them(this subsequently necessitated another hospital visit due to an eye infection!). Needless to say I encouraged every single second of it.
Next week features day 3 Carnival!