When Alex and I arrived to Buenos Aires we checked into our “Bed & Breakfast”. Alex had warned me that this B&B looked like someone’s apartment but I didn’t believe him because the website had such convincing photos that I thought we were staying in a nice place. I was wrong and was really pissed at the false marketing on the website. This B&B looked more like some dude’s apartment, or some sort of hostel. It was on the 3rd floor of an apartment building so we had to climb 3 flights of stairs to get up to it. I was not happy. The only thing that was true from the website was that the guy that ran the B&B was pretty hot.
On the road again — Alex and I make a master plan to pass through Tucuman on our way to Rosario where we would take the train to Buenos Aires. The bus from Jujuy to Tucuman was about 5-6 hours. When we arrived in Tucuman I tried to make plans to meet up with my faux baby sis, Emi and my friend Eze for a quick hello but we only had enough to do a quick walk around the main plaza and grab a bite to eat. Tucuman is where I learned the word for eggplant which is berenjena and i fell in love with eggplant.
From Tucuman we caught an overnight bus to Rosario. We rented a room in this hotel that was pretty old. I didn’t much dig it so we only stayed there for one night and then moved on to a better hotel down the street.
Our time in Rosario was quite nice. We spent the first day walking around the city exploring and we spent the second day by renting bikes and biking along the river. Rosario is a really nice city and I would definitely visit it again, but only for a long weekend. I would recommend going to a all-you-can-eat buffet here as they have asado and basically anything you can think of. It was delicious and like $10 dollars per person.
In the wee hours of the morning, approximately 4am, we woke up to catch a train from Rosario to Buenos Aires. I didn’t think there was a train system in Argentina so I was surprised and excited to find out that there was one. The train was something straight out of the 70’s. Although it was a bumpy ride and it was cold as balls for most of the trip, I did enjoy it a great deal.
As a good host should, I brought Alex up to the north and we spent a night in Tilcara. We rented a really nice room and had a nice dinner that included a live folklore show. We drank 2.5 bottles of wine and I was d-r-u-n-k. We left the dinner place and stumbled into another restuarant with live music. There we ran into some chicks from the hostel that we stayed in when we were in Salta. They were probably not as drunk as we were but you can never tell when you are already super drunk how drunk others are. Alex ordered a beer and I drank some but wished I hadn’t. I guess I was in the habit of drinking so I didn’t see the stop sign my stomach had so boldly put in front of my fuzz-drunk face. Let’s just say I spent a good part of that night hovered over the toilet, stomach teasing me but never actually puking.
Somehow, Alex convinced me that going Llama trekking at 10am the next day would be a good idea. My hungover mind and body did not wholly agree but as a good host I put on my “good sport” attitude and signed up for the trek. Seeing Alex’s broken little spirit was something I could not bear. After all, he’s such a good travel buddy that I figured just being around him would make it fun.
This trek was going to be 5 hours of walking with/leading llamas up a mountain in the middle of the day in blazing sun. I prepared myself with sunblock and brought it with me for re-application. I didn’t have a hat so I prayed that my head would not burn.
The trek started out pretty easy. Llamas walk pretty slow so it was a nice stroll until we reached the bottom of the mountain. Our guide, Santos, had a bag of coca leaves that he had us throw into a hole at the bottom of the mountain wishing for a good day ahead. He then told us to chew on coca so we wouldn’t get altitude sickness. I’ve had coca leaves before and the taste is gross but I did it anyway. Going up the mountain was pretty intense because it was a steep incline. I couldn’t believe how agile the llamas were and how swiftly they climbed the mountain.
When we reached the top of the mountain we found a nice spot and set up a picnic there. The guide had prepared a pretty awesome picnic for us, complete with wine, fresh fruit and goat cheese. I was impressed. We chilled there for a while and Alex realized that he was severely burned on his left arm. He was as red as a tomato. I gave him some more sunblock but by this point the damage was done.
The trek down the mountain was the scariest part as he had us going down some pretty steep cliffs, still leading our llamas. I let my llama go at one point and told him to find his own way down while i slowly baby-stepped my way down the slippery slope.
Overall I had a good time but I can’t say that I would do it again. It was cool but I don’t dig climbing mountains, especially guiding a stubborn llama behind me.
For my travels with Bobby, I decided to rough it with a ruck sac. I have only used them once before when I went hiking and camping in the Shenandoah with my good friends. I didn’t so much enjoy the pack back then but it’s necessary when hiking. Pulling a wheeled suitcase up a mountain doesn’t seem too practical.
I don’t have a ruck sac so I rummaged through my landlady’s backpacks to see what she had. 2 of the 3 had holes in them or were generally of bad quality so I went with the 3rd choice.
It worked out quite well for about 30 minutes but when I arrived at the bus station with Bobby on my way to Salta, one of my straps broke off. We ended up tying it to another part of the bag so it was fixed for a hot second but midway through my Salta trip it ripped off again. Let’s just say carrying a 1980’s ruck sac with one strap is not the most comfortable thing in the world.
When I got back to Jujuy with Alex I was so ready to ditch that stupid backpack. I didn’t care if it made me more authentic to graze the country like a true mochilera. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for comfort and there is a reason they made suitcases with wheels.
It was still siesta time in Jujuy so no one was out and about when I walked him around the city to show him my stomping grounds. We ended up running into a guy I had met at this hostel I recommend in Yok Wahi. I hadn’t been there in about 3 or 4 months so he invited us over there for dinner. We agreed and headed over there around 10pm for the asado they were preparing.
I had a really good time catching up with them and getting to know them better. About 90% of our conversation was in castellano so that was cool. Alex was a talk-a-holic in spanish so I got used to talking a lot in Spanish with him and whoever we came across. We drank boxed red wine with tonic water because that was what some of the guys were drinking. It was ok but I much prefer beer over boxed wine diluted by fizzy water. The asado was delicious and the cozy hostel and great company made the night one to remember.
Somehow in one day Alex and I had managed to spend all of our cash. On what? Who knows, probably booze. When we arrived to the bus terminal that was taking us to Cafayate we literally only had enough for the cab and a little bit more for another cab ride. The one bank ATM in the terminal didn’t accept foreign bank cards so Alex took the last of our cash and headed back into city center to take out money for the both of us.
I thought the trip to Cafayate was a short, 1 hour bus ride. Where I got that number from I have no idea because the bus ride was actually 3.5 hours…whoops. It wasn’t a boring ride as we were both surprised to find out that there was a beautiful quebrada view for 2/3 of the ride. The mountains were gigantic and almost as brightly colored as those I could find in the north. I felt so tiny in that bus against these mountains.
When we arrived to Cafayate we were bombarded by people trying to get us to stay in their hostel. We went with the first one because it seemed legit. The lady was nice and talked us all the way to her “super close” hostel that was probably about 7-10 blocks from town center. The outside of the hostel looked legit and it was only 26 pesos per night. When we got to the dorms we were staying in a giant room with 10 bunk beds. I felt like I was back in camp.
We left the hostel and immediately went to the wine bodegas. Cafayate is known for it’s wineries so we were set on getting good and toasted on some wine. The first one we tried looked like a cool winery but the wine wasn’t very good. The second place we went to was brand new and I discovered that a good wine that I tried in Salta was made in this winery. We bought a bottle and drank it there and had a jolly good time getting semi-drunk at 5pm. (Ok in all honesty I got pretty drunk off of that one bottle).
We walked around city center until we settled on a place to eat. When we arrived it was 8:30pm and the kitchen wasn’t all the way open yet. We could only order a few things on the menu. I am used to the custom of eating late here but I can’t say that I like it. One thing that I miss about the States is the ability to get a decent meal pretty much anytime throughout the day and night. In Argentina, it is sometimes impossible to find a place to eat after 3pm until 8pm and you are stuck eating bar food. Most places, including bars, limit their menu in this time period so most of them only have 1-2 options, sometimes just 1.
When dinner was over we headed back to our hostel. The sleeping experience for us was less than enjoyable as the mosquitos attacked us, the fan was too loud to keep on in the thick night’s heat and the pillow should more appropriately be called a thin rock. I am a sucker for comfort and I don’t realize this until I am in these types of situations.
We left Cafayate heading to Jujuy on the morning bus and relished in the views of the mountains again.
Once Alex arrived to Salta and my friend Bobby had started making his way to Rio, I knew I’d be seeing this city in a different light. I would adapt to Alex’s way of traveling and abandon the one I adopted with Bobby. I was worried that Alex’s army training and general appeal for sweat-inducing activities would mean that we would be climbing mountains and probably hunting pumas or something and I’m not really the “active” traveler so-to-speak. Hiking is not one of my hobbies nor is any type of extreme water sport. I wouldn’t be using my computer as much as I had been these past few weeks and I prepared myself by packing my mini-leatherman, just in case I needed to pull ticks off my body or defend myself against a wild boar.
When I met him at the airport and saw him emerge from the gate all my fears fell to the back of my mind. His giant smile and warm, social presence reminded me that he was just here to have a good time, no matter what we did. The army didn’t harden him or make him into this super mountain expeditionist salivating for the peaks. He was more excited to meet all the Argentine’s he could, as he was impressed by the ones he had met on the plane and in Buenos Aires in his short 24 hours in the country. Apparently his experience as a New Yorker for one short year had left his bright and bubbly spirit jarred by all of the harsh and closed off people of the city. Argentine’s were angels to him compared to what New York had to offer and he was overjoyed and highly impressed.
We didn’t waste much time as we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed for the Teleferico of Salta. The Teleferico is a set of cable cars that climb up the mountain Cerro San Bernardo. The view is spectacular and the tickets are incredibly cheap ($20 pesos there and back). The buildings on each end of the Teleferico that load the people into the cars were extremely cool with giant cranks and metal wheels of bright reds, and oranges. I felt like I was inside a giant clock. We roamed around the mountain and took silly pictures of ourselves. We saw tons of giant spiders that had taken residence just above our heads along the trail. Alex bought a postcard and then lost it.
Since I had already been in Salta for 4 days and was pretty burned out, we didn’t stay for much longer. We made plans to head down to Cafayate to see as much of the north as we possibly could.
i fucking ate bunny rabbit tonight and drank 2 bottles of wine. it was so delicious beyond anything words can describe. i’m going back again tomorrow. BUNNY YOU ARE MY NEW MEAT! I LOVE YOU. and i’m a little bit drunk which is no way to write a post. i apologize now.
I am 6 days into my new lifestyle and I feel better than ever. I did what everyone always says to do and gave up eating all forms of bread. I even stopped putting sugar in my coffee and have only indulged in 2 cups of hot chocolate on a cold night in Tilcara in these 6 days. I am used to getting a dessert with every meal to satisfy my sweet tooth but in 6 days I have had none. This is an incredible feat for me and I feel really good about it.
It all started when Bobby made a convincing argument for Evolutionary Fitness and why he does it. At first I was like…sorry, no can do, but then I thought about it for a hot second and took it as a challenge. I told him I would go breadless with him for a week and see how I felt and if I could even do it. On day 6 I am still going strong and actually feeling different in terms of hunger pangs and how much I actually eat. I’m a freaking convert. I still want sweets but I figure if I don’t eat them for a while my body will grow accustomed to not having them and they will eventually be too sweet for my tastes buds (as is the case with both James, my sister’s boyfriend and Bobby).
I don’t feel like I am torturing myself because I am giving up things that are not only affecting my weight but they are affecting my day-to-day. Before giving up bread and most sugar I would eat a lot throughout the day and freak out if I got a tiny little hunger pang and run to the fridge. I’d feel light-headed, get a headache and feel like my body was literally shutting down. Argentina has a culture of eating bread for breakfast with coffee. Sometimes the bread has sugar on it which is a double no-no. For a snack they have the same thing that they eat for breakfast — toasted baguettes. Where is the protein?!?! I started to get used to this way of eating because I felt like an outcast, eating my hearty, protein rich American-style breakfast while my housemate was eating toast with marmalade. How can they sustain themselves all day long on that type of diet? No wonder they take siesta — it’s their body shutting down from lack of energy.
Also, the things that I get to eat are actually things I enjoy eating and are easy and cheap to get down here. Big cuts of beautiful red meat, green veggies, delicious fish, chicken breast…etc. I haven’t found it hard at all to order these things on a menu or find them in the grocery store and throw them on the grill or in a pot. I realize that I don’t need the bread to fill me up because I reach a satisfying full with the protein-filled meals I order. For a while I was unintentionally eating the EF way because I enjoyed eating steaks and salads so much and they were so easy to cook.
I’ve learned so much from reading the two blogs that Bobby recommended to me to get started:
I’ve become sort of a zealot with this lifestyle in these short 6 days. I’ve already emailed my mom, little sister and a few other people to try it out or at least read about it. I guess since I immediately started feeling the results I wanted to share it with everyone I loved who I thought could also benefit from it.
I’ll periodically update with my progress (or hopefully not, with my failure). I don’t think I will fail because this lifestyle isn’t about punishing myself, but rather it’s about feeling better, more energetic and happier.
I don’t know what it is about traveling these past few weeks but I don’t feel like I’m seeing anything. I’m not interested in going to museums and that seems to be the only thing to do in Salta aside from climbing the 1,000 steps to the top of Cerro San Bernardo or taking the lazy route on the Teleferic. I went to the Hand Crafts Feria but all they had were “Regionales” which is something I can find right in Jujuy. It was boring and small.
I also think I take the shape of the people that I am traveling with because I am so laid back and go-with-the-flow. Bobby and I both work from our computers so we use siesta time here as an excuse to be on our computers for long stretches of time since nothing is really open. I don’t mind this because my guilty pleasure is spending endless amounts of time online but I don’t know if I’m missing out on something in my travels because I am hovered over my 13” MacBook for a majority of each day. Each of the towns that we have visited have been small and can be easily covered in a day or 2. We are also just doing the normal — going out to eat and drink. I can do that anywhere…why spend money to do it somewhere else if there isn’t a supplemental unique travel experience?
I thought I would enjoy these travels for the traveling more than the normal day-to-day on my computer but I don’t. Maybe I am just not impressed. The things offered in each city just don’t appeal to me and the architecture only wows me for a hot second. I mean, Salta is way nicer than Jujuy for sure. It’s more modernized and it does have some very beautiful buildings but those are just my surroundings, it doesn’t actually provide me with anything to do. Aside from computer time I am blowing through my money by buying super delicious and expensive protein-rich meals. I don’t so much mind this but I am afraid to look at my bank account when I finally settle from my travels. Anyone wanna throw me some more work, *nudge, nudge*?
On the positive side, I think the quality time with Bobby is well worth the trip by far. He and I share lots of similarities in our personalities so we are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, inspiring each other and making each other laugh. No stupid colonial building or horse ride through the mountains can beat that. I feel much closer to Bobby and our friendship has definitely gone from “super cool aquaintance” to “great friend”.
On Tuesday Alex arrives and he is more of an adventurer so I don’t see myself on the computer much at all. We’ll probably do Cerro San Bernardo which will be cool I’m sure. I’ll show him the north (3rd time I’ll be going there this month) and then we’ll spend a day or so at my house. From there who knows where we will go but I can’t imagine that he will want to sit still in my house and do nothing. A trip to Bolivia or Chile is highly likely with him. Maybe those places will provide more of a worthwhile travel story but for now, sorry I’m so “Debbie Downer”.
My first day back in Jujuy was a little interesting. It started out at 10:30 in the morning when Alda, the maid almost walked into my room while I was buck naked. Let me paint you the perfect picture here. After I towel dry I like to air dry for a minute before re-clothing. I am sans towel, standing in front of my dresser trying to pick out an outfit. My dresser is on the opposite wall from my door in my sweet ass triangle shaped room. I was basically as far away from the door as one could get. I hear the door creek open just a tad. I thought to myself, “that damned cat is opening the door again, ready to bolt under my bed”. I slowly start walking to the door to prevent the cat from entering when halfway through it almost swings completely open with the force of the incredible hulk. THIS IS NO CAT I scream in my head and I gallop like a mad horse to the door in order to close it before the whole world sees my precious jewels. Literally boobs were flying in all directions and only Alda will secretly know whether or not she saw them pinwheeling. I don’t want to ask. She was scared, I was scared. It was a mess as we talked nervously through the door. I could barely look at her when I was fully clothed, about to leave the house. What a wonderful morning surprise!
After this incident, Bobby Carter and I decide in the afternoon to take a stroll to my favorite coffee shop. As we are descending a short set of stairs I decide to crack a mean joke, poking fun and him and WHAM! I’m flat on all fours wondering how the hell I got there in a split second. Apparently karma wasn’t agreeing with me in that specific moment and it tripped my ass, skinning my knee and scraping up one of my nails. Relatively little damage to the physical body, but mucho damage to my pride. Bobby laughed as my ass crack peeked out curiously from my jeans in my cat pose on the ground.
What a day i tell you…what a friggen day.