ARGENTINA – country where I could imagine to “settle down” PART 1
In my so far short but active life I have been to (lived, studied or just travelled through) many different countries, and I loved almost all of them, but there are only few where I could imagine to “settle down” and try to live “normal life”. To these unique countries belong COLOMBIA (as my top 1), SPAIN & the country which I added to my “special list” just recently is ARGENTINA!
After spending few weeks in Bolivia where my energy and enthusiastic passion for travelling dropped a little bit, I got to ARGENTINA – country of amazing natural diversity, friendly people and handsome men (ou yeaaah, finally some nice travel distraction haha) – country where my energy stepped up and where I got “the second breath” for travelling.
Already the day when I crossed the border and got to Argentina (4th of November, 2015) I could have noticed that people in Argentina seem to be more open, friendly, nice and willing to help! At border crossing I met one extremely nice girl from Argentina who advised me where to do my first “stop” in Argentina (yeah, I am irresponsible, I even stopped planning which cities I should visit haha) and in which hostel I should stay in. So after one hour conversation, I decided to take a bus from “La Quiaca” (a small border town) to “Tilcara” and to find a hostel called “Los Molles” which I highly recommend (100pesos/night). And why “Los Molles”?! First of all, the owner Diego is a really cool guy with a plenty of good travel tips that could help you, second of all, if you want to experience the real laid-back, relaxing hostel with beautiful views over Tilcara and which is almost always full of people from Argentina and not that many gringos – then this is the right place for you! During my three night stay in this hostel I met amazing people from Buenos Aires as well as from Spain with who I spent my first week travelling through north of Argentina, which is by the way, breathtaking.
So TILCARA – what can you do there?! Tilcara is a small town surrounded by rocky mountains and beautiful nature, some short hiking trails and waterfalls. Pol (a guy from Spain who I already met in Bolivia and who joined me in Tilcara) and me went for a day trip to “Garganta del Diablo” waterfall located directly in Tilcara, next day Martin (cool guy from Buenos Aires, professional photographer), Pol and me went for a day trip to “Purmamarca” (a small town famous for its colourful mountains) and “Las Salinas” (another salt flat, but not that big or nice as the one in Bolivian Uyuni). Another option is also to visit “Humahuaca” (village famous for its mountains of 14 colours).
After spending three amazing days in Tilcara, Pol and me moved to SALTA where we got reunited with girls from Spain which we met in Los Molles hostel (Kristina, Anna and Isabel) together with Martin – a guy from Bunos Aires and we spent some nice quality time in this beautiful Argentine city.
After Salta, we all arrived to town called “CAFAYATE” which is popular for its delicious wine and vineyards(we did a free wine factory tour) and breathtaking natural landscape including relaxing walk through “Rio Colorado” and its waterfalls and simply amazing, all day & 50km long bike tour through “Quebrada de las Conchas” where you can observe extraordinary phenomenon created by mother nature or so called “pachamama”….
I spent an amazing week with amazing people in the north of Argentina, and it was my first time in my “South America solo backpacking trip” when I travelled in a group and I truly enjoyed that. I enjoyed our dinners (usually Spanish tortillas), our evening conversations and wine drinking, sharing our life stories and travel experiences… But everything has its end and this short group travelling wasn´t the exception. After 8 amazing days I said good-bye (another one…) to my new friends who I hope will meet one day in the future and continued in my solo travelling to the city called “TUCUMAN” where my first CS host Marco was waiting for me already at the bus station. Tucuman is a city of importance if it comes to the matter of country independence and Marco was more than willing to show me his city, its historical centre, beautiful parks and viewpoint with another Christ statue. But what was more important to me than typical city sightseeing was the fact that Marco gave me the opportunity to meet his friends, family, other CS hosts and I was able to spend more time with local people who not only showed me their typical friendliness but also took me to salsa bars and restaurants with delicious empanadas. I truly appreciate what Marco did for me and in this way I want to say THANKS again!
After my first CS experience in Argentina I was ready to continue with CS and new city, so I took a 14 hour bus ride to city called “MENDOZA” – city located around 6 hours from Santiago de Chile, surrounded by breathtaking mountains with views over Andes covered by snow. I must mention that this city is truly beautiful, full of green parks, trees, and I truly love it! But I wanna describe in more details my couchsurfing experience in this city rather than the city itself. Firstly, my new CS host Leandro has his small apartment in “Lujan de Cuyo” – small suburb village around an hour local bus ride from Mendoza where you can´t find almost any tourists (I especially liked that part). Secondly, I want to say that my CS experience with Leandro is one of the most interesting, enriched and unique experience in my couchsurfing history. And WHY?! The answer is easy – Leandro is an amazing, open-minded, open-hearted, generous and honest person who opens his door to EVERY couchsurfer without making any difference between anyone and who helps each traveller who comes to his house as much as he can by simple advices which he gives, travel tips which he shares or funny stories which he has more than enough… So let´s go to details how I found what kind of person and host he is. I arrived to Lujan on Saturday afternoon, found a shop where he works only to find out that he is out of a village for the rest of the day – nice beginning, right?! 😀 BUT, in the shop I met a Colombian girl who by coincidence was also Leandro´s couchsurfer and who was willing to take me to his house to “unload” my backpack. I found it very strange to get to house of my CS host without knowing him but after I got to know him better, it wasn´t weird any more. It is about his personality, his laid-back and completely relaxing attitude.
After half an hour spent in his house with the Colombian girl a big “surprise” knocked on the door – a boy who I mentioned in the article about Bolivia (Mariano – a guy I met on border crossing between Peru and Bolivia and with who I spent my first hours in Bolivia). It turned up that Mariano is Leandro´s neighbour and a good friend at the same time – coincidence or destiny?! I don´t know but what I know is that the world is not that big…. 🙂
What surprised me next and what made my CS experience more special was the fact that Leandro had more couchsurfers in his house at the same time (it never happened to me before, all my previous CS hosts accepted max. 1 couchsurfer request), more specifically, on a day I arrived to his house, there was a French family (YES – family with three cute children at age between 2 and 7 doing couchsurfing), a girl from Colombia (leaving that day but thanks to her I got to Leandro´s house and got the chance to get to know her world of circus) and a cool, funny guy from Brazil Bryan! And when did I finally meet Leandro?! Well, it happened around 4am when he finally got back home after wedding of his friend and woke me and Bryan up as we all had to share two mattresses placed on the kitchen floor. 😀 Sounds adventurous?! Well, maybe, but I truly liked this (to me) new couchsurfing experience…
The next few days I spent an amazing time with my “new CS family” – French family (which is a great inspiration for me and made me believe that even when you have family and kids you can still travel the world), Bryan and Leandro! We explored the city of Mendoza, its charming squares and parks, Lujan de Cuyo, and much more… My last night in Lujan (I just thought it was my last night, but I got back to Leandro´s house after my 5 day trip in Chile), Leandro took Bryan and me to his friend´s house and we drank good wine, ate cheese and shared our crazy stories… Leandro, by this I want to express my gratitude for the most extraordinary couchsurfing experience I have ever had in my life, you will always be in my memory! 😉
So what happened next?! I went to CHILE (I will devote one article to this interesting country), came back to Leandro´s house for one more night (one of more reasons for coming back was that I left my earring and necklace in his house – gifts from my friends from Colombia and Ecuador which mean a lot to me!) and then I headed to Argentine capital BUENOS AIRES – city of TANGO!!! You will find out more about my BUENOS AIRES experience in the next article “ARGENTINA – country where I could imagine to “settle down” PART 2”!!! 🙂