With a whirlwind nine day road trip around northern Argentina coming to a close, I thought the words of this notable Dr. Seuss book appropriate; as only amusing, absurd, thoughtful, inspiring Dr. Seuss books can be! Enjoy the RobinGoesTo abridged version.
Today is your day. I can't believe I found an automatic transmission car in Argentina!
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away! First up, an authentic Argentinian estancia in Las Pampas.
You have brains in your head Sometimes debatable
You have feet in your shoes The New Balances that are glued to my feet here
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose. And get lost twice and add two hours onto first stop's drive!
You're on your own. And you know what you know. Not enough Spanish, that's for sure
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. Well, me and Siri but she's not pulling her weight AT ALL.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care. Not streets, but beautiful flamingo-dotted marshy wetlands.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street. You would think so but the 7 km, 2-foot-high mud road that you need to off-road down WAS the street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town. Thankfully I didn't. The estancia (the beautiful La Bamba de Areco) picked me up in their 4-wheel drive vehicle and drove me to the entrance where we were led by a horseback-riding gaucho to a full staff receiving line! (Below Deck fans! You know what I'm talking about.)
It's opener there
in the wide open air. The peaceful pastures, the pristine polo fields, the impeccably manicured lawns, the rustic horse stable, and the clean air... all with the perfect gaucho vibe.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you. Yup. Meet the horse whisperer.
And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
The 7 kilometer mud road to Estancia La Bamba de Areco only to be greeted by this...
...and a beautiful lunch.
Trying mate (like tea but an infusion of dried leaves from the Yerba Mate plant) for the first time. I thought it tasted similar to green tea. But I liked the way one Dutch girl I met put it: "It tastes like the straw at the bottom of my rabbit's cage."
The horse stable
Out riding through the estancia's peaceful pastures
Need I say more about the horse whisperer?
It was so cool gaining an understanding of the Argentinian gaucho life
Upon leaving, I woke up to nothing short of a crisp, glorious morning with the horses being run in the distance.
OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. My silver Toyota Corolla steed
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. I've gotten used to "taking over" slow trucks on the mostly wide open, two-lane roads
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Not so fast. Even on a 90 mile straight-away, my nerves are shot due to the utter lack of signs. I anxiously pray I don't blink while passing the next tiny one on the side of the road. Here is my constant inner dialog: I guess this is route 40. I think this is route 40. This must be route 40. This can't be route 40. Phew, it's route 40.
I awaited these huge beacons of reassurance with every kilometer
Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
can happen to you. Road trip understatement of the year. From non-existent roads that GPS insists I turn at to police stops at most province borders to finding out the one hotel-overnight to break up the drive is in the region with the highest crime rate to the animal I was sure was stuck in my wheel well, driving alone through the backroads of a foreign country is not always as rosy as it sounds!
When your passenger seat starts to resemble the junk drawer in your kitchen.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch. Or Pringle-y! On one 10+ hours drive, a can of Pringles was all I ate one day. It's all so glamourous.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch. Emotions run high when you feel like you're in a continual, precarious juggling act between a decreasing gas tank (don't even get me started on the anxiety around using the right protocol at gas stations!), trying to find an ATM, and losing your phone charge due to 10 hour drives. None of which are easy to solve in the vast distances between Argentina's towns.
You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump. Unfortunately too, radio roulette produces mostly static out there so boy do you feel like a winner when the "Just a Gigolo"s and "Arthur's Theme"s come on!
And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun. Like miles and miles of vast sweeping desertscape
is not easily done. Until you hit Mendoza wine country...
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Typical
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! For sure after a day of wine tasting Mendoza's Malbecs!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? In! In to those bodegas I say!
How much can you lose? How much can you win? Lose? Maybe your ability to use good judgment. Win? A newfound lifetime of love for a grape varietal. No contest.
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing. Like in Plaza Independencia amidst Mendoza's welcoming, shady, tree-lined streets and easy lifestyle. It was not hard to get comfortable in this city!
Artisans, music, and community in Mendoza's Plaza Independencia
My favorite square in Mendoza with incredible tile work and spring flowers abloom!
I mean, cuteness overload doesn't begin to cover Petrona, the cafe I holed up in one late afternoon
Tasting the region's famous Malbecs and Torrontés wines at Kaiken
The top of this table has indents for holding wine bottles. Genius!
Malbec, Malbec, and more Malbec at Matervini
After a luxurious wine pairing lunch at Finca Agostino, this fun group ended our tasting at renowned Alta Vista.
With banner flip-flapping, Or a can't-miss-me Hertz sticker emblazoned on the trunk
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky. Thank GOD for great, dry weather this week! Ready because you're that kind of a guy! On to the northwest gem of Salta!
All Alone! Aside from the packs of grazing goats meandering the roads
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot. Alone, yes. Lonely, never. Particularly with the loyal Andes mountains by my side the whole way.
On and on you will hike To the stunning Hill of Seven Colors!
and I know you'll hike far Ok, it was just off the road
and face up to your problems
whatever they are. Just a slightly slippery, gravelly path to get a better view led by guide Guillermo but in the grand scheme of things...
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know. Got it. Insert all previous references to getting lost on the road.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go. Future penguins, perhaps??
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left. Good advice when jumping over the canals of the magnificent Salinas Grandes! Oh the photo ops.
The colorful Euro-Colonial architecture of Salta's orange-tree lined main square
After a 13,000 foot ascent through the mountains, the 2300 sq. mi. salt flats of Salinas Grandes were a pretty fascinating sight. My hand had a thin layer of salty residue on it where I'd dipped it into the cold water to grab a piece of salt.
The layers of salt exposed in this llama figure
We spent almost the entire time having fun with these optical illusion shots!
The mountains and hills in Quebrada de Humahuaca were unbelievably colorful due to various mineral compositions and time.
The famous Hill of Seven Colors
A great view of the striped Hill of Seven Colors
One of the oldest, best preserved towns in Argentina, Purmamarca (where I had and loved llama stew, by the way!)
Unfortunately, I couldn't catch a good shot of the llama relative, the vicuña, galavanting around but I was obsessed with looking for them on the hillsides!
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.) It was 15 hours back to Buenos Aires, but I made it!
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! I'll settle for hiking some!
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places! Las Pampas, Mendoza, Salta... all memorably, extremely diverse experiences. Even more so with the sense of accomplishment that comes from this road trip. It's all in the journey.
Today is your day! Hooray!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way! Phew! We've covered a lot of ground!
Adiós mis amigos!