Posts tagged "argentina"

things I miss about South America

  • pisco sours
  • ceviche
  • humitas
  • empanadas
  • tablas
  • endless flavors of ice cream
  • completo hot dogs
  • mate
  • steaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkk
  • ALL THE FOOD
  • the constant validation from men off the street (you always feel like you’re looking good, even if the attention is sometimes uncomfortable)
  • the way conversations with strangers were so easily started (you perk up when you hear English—if you have nothing else in common, that one fact makes you instant friends)
  • wine wine wine wine wine
  • endless activities (skydiving! canyoning! things!)
  • public displays of affection (kids are horny and they aren’t afraid to show it)
  • walking everywhere—somehow walking the same distances in minneapolis just seems weird
  • weird fruits
  • the people, their openness and pride
  • speaking Spanish like a boss
  • taking a fresh medialuna (the Argentinean croissant) and smothering it in half a jar of dulce de leche for breakfast, tearing it apart piece by piece and licking my fingers clean

the day I went skydiving

March 27, 2012.

The day I went skydiving.

I mean, I feel like I should have a story for you here, but, really, I jumped out of a plane and it was great. It was incredible. I would do it again every day for the rest of my life if I could.

Okay. The guy (Adrian, 30 years of skydiving, jumps everyday, competes around the world and trains parachutists in the United States, Sweden, and everywhere else I’m sure) picked Meredith and I up from the hostel at seven in the morning. We picked up two more kids from a different hostel and then drove for something like two hours out of the city. Meredith jumped first—Adrian picked the order of people—and she was done with her jump by 10 AM.

Then we watched the sky for six hours. The clouds changed, and Adrian said the conditions for jumping weren’t good, nor was it easy for the plane. I took a nap on a bean bag. Adrian dragged a bean bag out on the lawn in front of the Aeroclub HQ and leaned back, face trained on the sky. We went to the corner store and bought sandwiches. It was starting to look like no one else could jump, and I would probably have cried if that was the case—the sky was clearing up, but the wind was getting much stronger.

Finally, around 5 PM, Adrian said I should suit up. His assistant, Fernando (this incredibly handsome 25-year-old kid, I might add) tossed me a bright orange space suit and Adrian strapped me into a variety of harnesses, assessing my ody very seriously and getting closer to second base than any man has gotten in a long time, but I guess that’s how it goes when you’re tandem jumping and putting your life in the hands of a total stranger.

I wasn’t nervous at all until the moment the door of the plane opened and suddenly I realized that we were 2,500 meters in the air (about 1.55 miles, according to the Google converter) and I had to put my feet outside and actually jump. Really.

Thankfully, Adrian, being the pro and all, edged me out of the plane and suddenly we were free falling, and it was the most excruciatingly glorious moment of my life. It lasted all of fifteen seconds. I screamed, because I think you have to, but it was out of pleasure, once I realized I wasn’t going to die. He pulled the parachute, and then we were floating—above vineyards, above checkered plains, and the wind was strong and Adrian seemed to be getting a workout with the parachute, but I was rapturous, arms open wide, absorbing all I could of these scant moments in the air.

There’s always the thrill seekers who do crazy things and it’s nothing to them, and I admit I didn’t give too much thought to the severity of this little excursion. Skydiving was not something I ever had on my radar or saw myself doing. But why not?

Free falling, and then like we were sailing. Surreal enough. And awesome.

So Cafayate is like, famous in Argentina for its wine-flavored ice cream. And I was like, “That calls to me.” So, off we were, to Helados Miranda, where you can get Cabernet Sauvignon or Torrontes ice cream, and then you can basically die of happiness.

Meredith opted for Torrontes, while I elected the Cabernet. Very distinct wine taste. Like, maybe a whole quart and I would have been buzzed.

When we reached Cafayate, we had lunch at this cute little outdoor patio place with a set menu (in much of Latin America, budget restaurant-goers will opt for the Menu del Dia, which is generally a three-course lunch with included beverage for a cheap price). The dessert was a slice of local cheese stuffed like a tortilla with marmalade and drizzled with sugar cane honey. Decadent.

When we reached Cafayate, we had lunch at this cute little outdoor patio place with a set menu (in much of Latin America, budget restaurant-goers will opt for the Menu del Dia, which is generally a three-course lunch with included beverage for a cheap price). The dessert was a slice of local cheese stuffed like a tortilla with marmalade and drizzled with sugar cane honey. Decadent.

This is called the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Tongue). It’s a natural rock formation in the Quebrada de las Conchas (Shell Gorge), and it kicks so much ass. You technically weren’t allowed to climb… but I didn’t see any security cameras, so….

This is called the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Tongue). It’s a natural rock formation in the Quebrada de las Conchas (Shell Gorge), and it kicks so much ass. You technically weren’t allowed to climb… but I didn’t see any security cameras, so….

Oh, you know, just like, a herd of goats on the street. No bigs.
Quebrada de las Conchas, Argentina.

Oh, you know, just like, a herd of goats on the street. No bigs.

Quebrada de las Conchas, Argentina.

Quebrada de las Conchas.

Quebrada de las Conchas.

Cafayate

Before coming to Argentina, Salta and Cafayate were far off my radar. I thought the highlights of this fair country would be Buenos Aires, one of the most beloved cities in the world, and Mendoza, where they might as well shoot wine out of their gorgeous plaza fountains. I never expected the endless beauty of the Quebrada de las Conchas, on the drive from Salta to Cafayate, or the quaint and tranquil loveliness of Cafayate itself—Northern Argentina’s answer to Mendoza, the leader in Torrontes production.

We took a day trip to Cafayate—normally I’m all for the DIY route, but we were limited on time. Our guide, Esteban, picked us up from our hostel at the bright, shiny hour of 7 AM, and my trusty travel partner Meredith and I piled into his 4x4, along with day-trippers from another hostel (Nellie and Gemenolina or something like that), and set off on the four-hour drive from Salta to Cafayate.

The closer we got to Cafayate, the more incredible the views were. As Esteban blared Stevie Nicks and Eric Clapton from his car stereo, Argentina’s answer to the Grand Canyon was spread out before us: incredible desert landscapes peppered with bright green tufts of grass, huge rock formation and gorges slanted sideways with layers of sediment slicing through the years, and deep, endless skies. It’s the kind of world Georgia O’Keefe lived in. It’s breathtaking.

I can’t remember how many times Esteban stopped the truck and explained something about the natural rock formation and the limestone and told us to get out and take a picture. (By the return drive, we were tired of getting in and out of the truck. I mean, seriously, how many different pictures of the same rocks do you need? It’s beautiful, yes, yes, yes.) I wish I had had more time, because I probably would have tried to pull some crazy Patagonia shit again and camped out under the stars or whatever, climbing around the gorges, pretending I’m the kind of girl who does that kind of thin on the reg. But that’s how it was—the sort of grandiose panoramas that make your chest tight. Nature always wins.

Cafayate itself was a lovely little town, pleasant and sunny and built around the wine industry, but not as touristy as Mendoza. We went to two vineyards—a small, organic vineyard called… well, something. It was cute. And another, larger vineyard (with tastings!) called Vasija Secreta. Of all the places I went in Argentina—and granted, I had very little time there, and I certainly didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do—Salta and Cafayate were my favorites. It might have been the perfect combination of activities and beautiful things seen, but you can never underestimate the power of tranquil views and great food. It’s the simple things, y’all.

natalie gallagher. artist, writer, and the most unlikely south american explorer ever.

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