Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.


I didn’t want Argentina to run out of wine, so after 7 days in Mendoza I headed with Ruth to Salta (~475,000 people, ~3780 feet) in the northwest corner of the country.  (By the way, I would not really recommend a 19 hour bus ride on a homebrew wine hangover to anyone.)

Day 1:  Arrived at mid-day from Mendoza, took a brief nap, and then went out to check out the city.  In a hellacious downpour.  Perfect.  We had decided to rent a car and check out the area around the city, so I was tasked with “making friends” at the hostel so we would have someone to share the cost with.  Ten minutes later, I had convinced two 20 year old Swedish girls to join us.  Ruth is pissed that I am again on the move with three beautiful ladies.  I am not so upset about this.


Day 2:  We took a local bus to San Lorenzo and did a really beautiful hike in the rainforest with Florencia from Buenos Aires.  Then I decided to cook my first asado…which took way too long (per usual, when I’m cooking).  But, Ruth and I did manage to mow down 850 grams of quite delicious Argentinian happy cow.  It just happened at around midnight…


Day 3:  After Car Rental Guy showed up 90 minutes later than scheduled (I’d like to say I’m getting used to this shit, but I would be lying), we got everyone’s bags stuffed into the trunk and headed for Cafayate (~13,000 people, ~5,500 feet).  The scenery was absolutely stunning.  I didn’t even have this place on my radar and I think I just drove through Bryce Canyon, Arches, Zion and the Grand Canyon all in one day.  We couldn’t drive more than a kilometer without all four of us screaming, “WOW,” screeching to a halt, and jumping out to take photos.

Cafayate is also the only growing region for the Torrontѐs grape, which I found to be quite tasty, particularly in large quantities.



Day 4:  We got up “early” to go on a trek. (I’m not sure in what fucking universe 9:30 counts as early.  I’ve got some sleepy-ass females on my hands.  Patience.  Scanning for patience…)  The trip to Rio Colorado actually turned out to be more of a bouldering/scrambling day than a hike, which was really quite amazing.  There was cactus humping, boulder mounting, 73 river crossings, a treacherous final ascent and then an hour soaking and sunning underneath a waterfall.  Honestly, one of the most fun days I’ve had in all my time here.  After returning to town, I personally downed 4 liters of water (not kidding) and ate 6 empanadas before the drive to San Salvador de Jujuy (~250,000 people, ~4,100 feet) .  For the last hour of the drive, there was a massive lightning storm in the hills to the west of us which, again had us involuntarily screaming, “Wow!  Jesus Christ!  Holy shit!” every 3-4 seconds.  And then we stayed in a shit industrial hostel.  Please, for the love of the gods, no more shit industrial hostels.




Day 5:  We again get up “early.” (9:15?  I’m going to choke someone.)   The prior night’s hot lightning action had kept us out of the hot springs, so we decided to start our day there instead.  Hot springs in the rain is actually quite righteous…I recommend it.  We drove on to Purmamarca, made the fateful decision to worry about finding a hostel later in the day, and continued another hour to the Salinas Grandes.  Since I ended up skipping Bolivia, this was my first trip to the salt flats and I was quite blown away.  Incredible light, beautiful reflections, intense solitude.



Later I humped a llama made of salt.  Then we went back over the pass and returned to town.



Purmamarca (~2,000 people, ~7,600 feet) has several hostels, but I think the people that run them must all be morons.  Jessica and I spent more than an hour crossing back and forth across town (while Ruth and Emilia enjoyed a nice concert in the central plaza…) trying to find a place to stay.  “Oh, just go to this street and its three doors down.”  “We were just there, jackass, and they told us to come to see you!”  We finally found a room and celebrated with a bottle of Torrontѐs from Cafayate and a rousing “Wish You Were Here” sing-along.  After we all washed the salt off of our feet, we had a nice dinner in town and returned to 10 dudes from Buenos Aires drinking and making asado outside our room.  This is not going to end well.  (And certainly not early.)


Day 6:  I have successfully trained Emilia and Jessica to appropriately use the phrase, “IN YOUR FACE!” which they are now doing liberally.  I am quite pleased with myself.  Today is Emilia’s 21st birthday, so we, of course, celebrate with a delicious breakfast of instant coffee and dry bread with ham and cheese.  Then its north to Humahuaca (~12,000 people, ~9,660 feet) where we, by mere luck, hit town for their biggest celebration of the year.  The Virgen de la Candelaria Festival (the patron saint of Humahuaca) brings in everyone from the surrounding hills and towns to pay tribute to a plastic doll with really fancy clothes.  There was also a parade of gauchos in regional costumes, which was a bit more compelling.  And then a cacophony of bands competing to be heard.  And sweet hats.  And killer street food.  And a Care Bears hoodie?




Day 7:  Fuck the 3+ hour bus ride to Iruya (~4,000 people, ~9,120 feet).  We have a sweet Chevy!  Who cares if we have to ford a river of waist deep water 3 times and traverse roads that only one of the 8 car rental agencies we checked with would even let us travel.  Again, sweet Chevy?  Hell yes!

I was a little less enthusiastic when I returned the sweet Chevy and they noticed that the front bumper was completely separated from the frame.  But…well…we got to see Iruya…


Day 8:  The girls are all on a bus to Bolivia this morning (no way in hell they get up on time…), so it’s up to me to get the Chevy back to Salta by 10 am.  Up at 6 am, guzzle a liter of mate (will it be enough??), and haul ass all the way back.  After making the really stupid choice of the “alternate” route back (the road was, literally, only 4 meters wide for about 100 km), I pulled into Eurocar at 9:55.  Nice.  After paying the tab for the broken bumper, I staggered back to the hostel for a much needed siesta and checked into a room…with 3 beautiful Norwegian girls.  Not again…

Northern Argentina is the most geologically interesting place I have ever seen, in my eyes surpassing the much more famous national parks in the US.  And I got to see it all with three beautiful girls.  (This is my third consecutive week traveling with three beautiful girls.  I have been the envy of Latin men from Valparaiso to Mendoza to Iruya.  The problem is that no one ever gets laid when traveling with three beautiful girls.)

Total kilometers driven: 1285.  Total times yelled “WOW” involuntarily at scenery: ~800.  Total towns, inanimate objects, and domestic animals told, “IN YOUR FACE!”:  countless thousands.



This little girl was thrilled when I pulled a pen out of my pocket and signed her cast.






3 Responses to “Salta”

  1. Ottke says:

    Funny, didnt see any sweet shit in Northern Argentina, besides a ton of hot girls, but southwestern Bolivia rocked so I guess its not too big of a surprise. Blasphemy, the west (ern us) is the best and hates you now! The word verification is unmate, I kid you not…

  2. kevinpdx says:

    What? You did not teach them, "Screw Job"? Huh? Nice post. See you in a few several weeks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The photos in the salt flats are AMAZING Casey. The photo of the dried flowers hanging across the sparse street is quite beautiful as well.
    You really should consider creating a book of your stunning shots (or even just print/frame/sell them) to fund your next world adventure!

Leave a Reply