Monday, February 20, 2012

The End is Near

Well...our trip is over on Wednesday. We will have a 21 hour bus ride from Jujuy to Buenos Aires, where we will stay with our favorite Englishman (Jack) and our favorite French brioche (Audrey) for one last night. On Friday, we fly home to the United States and arrive Saturday afternoon.

Currently we are in a little town called Tilcara in the Jujuy (northwest) province. We´re set in a beautiful gorge with a desert landscape. It´s also Carnaval - which means here. Different from the Carnaval in´s very folkloric and the festival is tied closely to indigenous culture. They make offerings to Pacha Mama (mother nature), play and dance to traditional music, and serve regional food. Everyone walks around drinking open containers of alcohol with an aerosol can full of foam, and you just walk up and down the streets and spray other people with the foam or throw flour on them (boys to girls and vice versa). On some of the main streets where there is loud, boisterous music, it´s all out war of foam and flour-and no one is safe. It has been quite the cultural experience and we´ve thoroughly enjoyed it and it´s been a great way to end our journey.
We don´t have any pictures to show because it will just take too long and we´re short on patience in these last few days.

We´re extremely excited to come home. Traveling is really hard on your body and it can wear on your mind. You´re constantly moving, meeting new people, navigating new locations, and thinking about what´s next. In total if we added all the hours up, we think we´ve spent an entire week just on buses. We´ve had the time of our lives on this 7 week trip but we miss our family, our friends, and a consistent, comfortable place to sleep at night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just When You Thought We Forgot About This Thing

What a trip this has been! After today, we only have 9 more days until we fly home. Since we last left you, we were somewhere in northern Patagonia. Now, we are  in northwest Argentina. Here is a brief update:

From Bariloche (where Lindsay fell while riding a bike and had to get stitches), we went to Mendoza for a few days, which is known for it´s Malbec wines. However, because of Lindsay´s stitches and all the excursions required physical exertion, we booked it to the beach in Chile. We stayed in a small town called Ritoque, just north of Viña del Mar. The beach was AMAZING. We relaxed for 5 days and did nothing except sunbathe, eat seafood, hang out with surfers, and read books.  After that, we stayed in Santiago for a few days. There, we were able to watch the Super Bowl, with two other Seattlites, and we dined on chicken wings, nachos, and beer - a nice touch of home. went back into Argentina, to stay in San Juan. In San Juan, we tried some regional wines and learned a lot about olives.  From San Juan, we moved north to Catamarca, where we visited some Incan ruins.  Next, we went to Tafi del Valle, a little town in a fertile green valley, where we did some hiking, frolicked with animals, and got caught in a major hail/rainstorm on our way to a waterfall. We moved north again to our current city, Cafayate. Today, we explored the town, ate local empanadas, tamales, and humitas (more on these later), and drank local beer. Tomorrow we are going to hike through the Quebrada de Cafayate (Gorge of Cafayate), which is supposed to have spectacular land formations and colors.
Here are some carefully selected pictures from the last few weeks:

One of many shrines you can find along the highways. Many of these are dedicated to Catholic saints. However, whenever you seen one decorated with red, you know it is a shrine for Gauchito Gil, who was a real life Argentine Robin Hood. 
A day at the market in El Bolson. El Bolson has many artesinal breweries, and so naturally, we decided to go on a "beer tour" at the brewery market stalls. There was a sudden thunderstorm/rainstorm, but as you can see, everyone just kept going about their business. Vendors were helping each other push water off of their tarps and trying to keep their mechandise dry, and when there was a huge clap of thunder, everyone would whistle and clap as if it were a performance. Definitely a memorable day. 
After a long day of hiking along the river in El Bolson. A storm was moving in during sunset and created this impressive, yet spooky sunset. 
Chocolate tasting in Bariloche! Bariloche is known for it´s chocolate, so of course, we sampled until we felt ill. 

Zip-lining in Bariloche. For those of you who are aware of Lindsay´s height phobia, this is amazing. A great day  flying through the forest. 
Jesse had no trouble getting the hang of it. 
Our bus ride from Mendoza to Viña del Mar on the Chilean coast. This was our view from the bus window as we climbed the pass through the Andes. Absolutely breathtaking. 
While Lindsay´s knee was still healing and she was relaxing on the beach in Ritoque, Jesse went 2 hours south to the city of Valparaiso for the day. It´s a coastal city built into the hillside. Some of the hills are so steep that they have elevators to  transport you from a lower street to a higher street. The city was full of colors, creative graffiti, and character. 
Sunrise in Ritoque, Chile. 
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile
On the Ruta del Vinos, in San Juan, Argentina. While Mendoza is known for it´s Malbecs, San Juan is known for it´s Syrah wines. After our last winery, when the bus was too full to pick us up (twice), we tried unsuccessfully to hitchhike for 2 hours. Quite the adventure. 
The cathedral in the main plaza of Catamarca, Argentina. 
In Catamarca, during our visit to the somewhat unremarkable Incan ruins. We were more interested in the huce cacti than anything else. This thing must be HUNDREDS of years old!
In Tafi del Valle, on our first hike. This day, the weather was beautiful and the bright shades of green aren´t done justice in this picture. 
Our first day in Cafayate. This was part of our lunch. It´s called a humita (oo-mee-tah). It´s like a tamale, only the corn surrounding the meat is mixed with calabaza (butternut squash) and cheese. We´re bringing this dish home.

So that´s it for now! We have a busy last few days ahead of us, but we will try to do one last photo dump before we board that plane bound for the USA.

Though we are thoroughly enjoying our northern circuit, we have been thinking and talking about home ALOT, and we definitely ready to come home.