We left the stunning Patagonia for the north western area of Argentina, Salta. It was a 3 flight process. We took one of those flights that drops a few people off along the way (much like a local bus) then jumped on an another flight before finally landing in Salta. I had been super organised this time and booked a car 3 days in advance, the only problem was on arrival they hadn’t got the message about wanting car seats. It’s hard to get angry when you don’t know the swear words or even the words they respond with. We played it cool and the car rental company then managed to rustle up one. Back home, we don’t leave the driveway (if we actually had one) unless 37 checks of the car seat have been completed. Here we would have to make a choice about which child we liked the most. It was a split vote so controversially we went for the youngest. I whispered in Evie’s ear that as I liked her more she was getting a special seat. I then whispered in Piper’s ear that as I liked her more she didn’t have to sit in a baby seat. Too easy – just hope they never talk.
We headed out and to be honest I didn’t know a lot about this part of Argentina but I was expecting dry, brown and dirty (insert too many jokes here). First stop was a little town called Coronel Moldes. It was shit. It was green, our accommodation was ordinary (I’m looking at you trip advisor) and food average. To give you an idea on their website they claimed to have a ‘fitness centre’ (see photo below).
Piper loved the hotel, although I think Piper would love a 36 bed dorm full of Rebels Bikies. We had 2 days here which actually provided us time to kick back, relax and catch up online (this was because there was nothing else to do).
After 2 nights we headed off and the terrain soon turned to red cliffs and rugged brown hills, pretty awesome and like nothing like I’d experienced before. We drove through a giant gorge called the Quebrada de Cafayate and stopped to climb rocks at a place called Devil’s Throat. The kids turned into mountain goats as I herded them up the hill.
On the drive we played our usual car games – Who Am I, I Spy and ‘Stop every 10 minutes as I need to take a photo’ (only Ez played that game). Next stop was the town of Cafayate as we were hungrier than a ninth puppy. After smashing down 23 empanadas and an ice cream, we headed to our digs for the night in the little town of San Carlos, 25km away. We stayed in a cool little place which was a working farm, hosting some good looking cows (not Ez) and a little brewery. Piper loved this place as it served breakfast.
It was about here that we got our first ‘missing home moment’ and obviously it would be related to food. Now a typical restaurant menu in Argentina looks like this: empandas for entrée, 3 types of steak, 1 schnitzel (usually veal) and ravioli, all served with ensalata mixta (lettuce, tomato and grated carrot).
All the meals have been fine but what is that saying? ‘There are only so many ways you can dress up a transvestite’. After one meal we started discussing the food we were missing from home. I had previously discussed with an Argie who asked what is a traditional Australian restaurant. Mine was pretty simple, our traditional Australian restaurants of – spicy Thai food from Maggies at Erskineville, Al Aseel Lebanese at Newtown and Portuguese Chicken from Petersham. Ez wasn’t quite as specific, she was missing veggies, salad and anything ever dubbed a superfood. Piper missed babycinos and googy eggs from Nonna and Papou’s. Evie was crying on the floor and couldn’t answer.
We enjoyed these little towns, checking out the scenery, walks and kid’s playgrounds. Piper is the ultimate playground stalker and can spot a similar aged child from a mile away. She rocks up, throws out a ‘Hola’ and starts to play. Normally the little Argentine is chattering away at Piper probably thinking why the hell doesn’t she answer. Nonetheless they go on playing. A cute moment occurred when Piper was playing with such boy and said ‘Do you want to play hide and seek?’ The little fella had no idea what she was saying. Next minute Pipes covered her eyes and belted out her best uno, dos, tres, cuatro…. the universal sign for hide and seek kicked in and the boy ran and hid. Evie couldn’t play because she was crying as she wanted to count first.
Next stop on the route was Molinos (90km of dirt road), another quaint little town where we stayed at a nice hotel. Piper loved it as it had a tree. On our first night here something quite amazing happened. At precisely 12:25am Molinos time we bought a house in Australia. It was quite surreal sitting by a mobile phone waiting for the news that we had won at auction. We were pretty buzzed and I couldn’t wait to be able to tell Piper what colour school uniform she would wear next year (she had been asking), it was blue and red if you care. The next day we celebrated by visiting one of the highest wineries in the world. A glass of wine later and Ez was anybody’s. Lucky there aren’t many people around in this part of the world.
We then started on our longest drive of the trip, through a national park full of dirt roads, giant cactus and llama (both on the side of the road and on the menu). The road winded through mountains and we climbed high enough to drive through the clouds.
We came out the other side, leaving the dry desert behind for the green flats of Salta. We spent our final two nights in this part of the world here and Piper really loved the accommodation as it had stairs. Evie cried as she didn’t get to go up the stairs first. By this stage the kids were really craving a bit of home cooking so we took to the supermercado for a bit of normality. Well not quite normal as I didn’t buy 4 large blocks of Dairy Milk chocolate and a tub of Maggie Beer ice-cream, but I survived.
We had booked a 2-day tour/transfer to take us across the border to Chile but over the last few days had not been able to get in touch with who we booked it through, we couldn’t find a contact number and were started to think our deposit may have been donated to “Dodgy Brothers Salta” and were becoming angrier than a mosquito in a mannequin factory. Then 10pm we received a knock at our door and it was good old Joaquin, our guide who had called past to check if the kids seats in his car were going to be ok. Apologies all round (I took back some of my thoughts on him, only some of them). It was then early to bed as we would start our 2-day trek across the border to Chile the next day. Stay tuned for more on our cross country expedition.
The kids have been pretty phenomenal so far on the trip, adapting to new environments, different foods, different beds the lot. Piper is the beautiful little soul who is happy to go with the flow and wants to be an artist when she grows up. Evie has the cheeky little grin, has a mind of her own and keeps us on our toes. I may give Evie a hard time for the tears but she has been amazing, so adaptable and finally warming to daddy!
Things Evie has cried over: –
Not being allowed to lie on the floor or a public bathroom
Not being able to put her seatbelt on (we actually gave her 5 mins to try) so we had to do it
Not being the leader
Things Evie hasn’t cried over: –
Falling over and scaping her knee
Hitting her head on the door
Walking into a wall
For more of our photos from north west Argentina, check out Erica’s Gallery