The Mountains of Northern Argentina
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The differences between Argentina and previous countries are like day and night, and I’m surrounded by them at all times. The streets are clean, people are smiling and friendly and there is a lot more infrastructure. Fashion, with jeans/shorts and a T-shirt reining supreme, looks to be coming straight from North America or Europe, and cars must be sourced from the entire world; Europe, Japan, North America, etc.
Attitudes and ideas are equally global.
In Bolivia, Peru, and the mountains of Ecuador it was obvious a huge percentage of the population are trying hard to retain the cultural ideas of their ancestors; clothes, language, crafts and a simple means of living. Not so in Argentina. My immediate impression is the Argentines take immense pride in their Spanish heritage, and live that life to the full.
Every village, town and city in Latin America, big or small, boasts a central plaza, a kind of hub for the town. More often than not I’ve seen desolate concrete dust bowls, scaring away even the street dogs. Here in Argentina I’ve seen the exact opposite, beautiful plazas bursting with shady trees, green grass and plenty of tables and chairs – extremely inviting places to be, and not surprisingly packed with friendly people.
After a couple of days of adjustment and a huge re-resupply (at Wal-Mart…) I head back into the mountains and quickly find Route 40, the epic route from North to South I’ve heard so much about. This highway runs along The Andes all the way to Ushuaia, my long dreamed-of destination and seeing the kilometer marker of 4700km is an extremely bizarre feeling – not only am I close and in the right country, I could theoretically stay on this highway to the end.
Over a week or so I meander my way South watching the kilometer markers constantly decrease and spend more than a few days in the beautiful little town of Cafayate.