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I crossed the border from Bolivia in La Quiaca and traveled south.  I have to say that the first month in Argentina wasn't the best, I think after 6 months of traveling I had enough and was feeling lonely.  I was getting stuck in one place for too long, without the will to move on.  I was traveling south from Salta, through Cachi, Cafachate, Tafi del Valle down to Mendoza.

One memorable experience was cycling to Cachi.  I went by bus to a pass high in the mountains and cycled down through great (desert and cactus) scenery to green valley with full view of 6300m mountain.  Then the next day I was supposed to go by bus back to the pass and cycle down the other side, which is totally different - green.  But there was no bus in the morning, so I had to pedal to get to the pass, 1000m higher, and then down, 160km in total.  Not a great achievement but I tell you, it hurts a lot the next day if you not used to it!  From Salta I went to Cafachate and forgetting the pain, went cycling again down a beautiful valley with great rocks around, then walked through a canyon up to 100m high and only a few meters wide, pushing and carrying my bike, hoping that I find the way out and will not have to go back.  Tafi was a nice village with pleasant climate, not as hot as other places, green mountains around and no mosquitoes!

Then Mendoza, clean city with streets lined with trees providing welcome shade. Water flows in canals along every street to make that possible.  I went trekking over Xmas in Cordon del Plata only 50 km from the city.  Mountains rise from 700m to 6000m in such a short distance!  One night I cant sleep because of heat, and the next I'm at 3200m and freezing.  There I met a Brazilian guy, an astronomer who knew every single star in the sky.  We went together to base camp at 4200m.  Next day we set off higher but he got altitude sickness at 4400m and had to go back to base camp.  Next day I went on but underestimated the force of the wind, and instead of climbing the highest (but not interesting) 6000m mountain I had to go up a rocky 5300m one which was closer.  The ridge has over 1000m drop on both sides, and the wind sucks out the heat from the body through all wind stopper clothes.

After greeting New Year in Mendoza I made my way to Buenos Aires. Incredibly hot, I went from one shop to another pretending to be a customer, only to cool down a little. As I couldn't get a ticket to the south for the next week, I went to Uruguay.


I spent only 2 weeks in Uruguay.  First was the capital, Montevideo.  One strange thing I noticed were people carrying thermoses in the street.  As it turned out, they needed hot water to make mate de coca.  It's prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water.  Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow calabash gourd (also called a mate) with a metal (traditionally silver) straw  is an extremely common social practice in  Uruguay.  Even if the water comes in a very modern thermos, the infusion is traditionally drunk from mate.

After Montevideo, I decided to check out the coast.  As I like walking, I set out from a town of La Paloma at night and walked along the never ending beach for 3 days.  From time to time I went in the water fighting huge waves.  It was scary at times when I lost control because the force of the wave was just too powerful.  Also coming out was tricky.  I was wearing nothing and without my glasses I had no idea if someone was approaching.  Another attraction were dolphins jumping out as if inviting me to come and play.
On the 4th day I arrived in Cabo Polonio, where I met a great family.  Camping was not allowed in the village, but they let me pitch my tent next to their holiday home.  I spent a few fantastic days there.  Especially good company was what I needed after 3 days alone.

Uruguay reminded me of Argentina, but a smaller version.


After 2 weeks in Uruguay I came back and went by bus to Ushuaia, the longest bus journey of my life, 50 hours, 2 days and 2 nights!  Don't even ask why I didn't fly since it costs less!  The only thing that happened during that trip was when a young girl (princess) sitting across tried to lower her seat.  The old woman (witch) sitting behind her started pushing the seat away, so they had this funny fight for a while.  Finally I couldn't stop myself and burst out laughing, the witch looked at me and the princess got her chance to push it all the way back, the seat clicked and the princess won!  So I finally got to Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, end of the world.  Only 6°C in the middle of summer, Beagle Channel on one side and rocky mountains on the other.  I went trekking, of course, in this unspoiled virgin terrain.  One of the most difficult treks, fighting my way through forests with big fallen trees everywhere.  Bloody beavers built dams and flooded the whole valley.  In one place I fell in mud waist deep!  Beaver - enemy number one!  On another trek I met a great girl and her aunt, we went walking a few times, had fires, lamb, wine, before I knew I spent 10 great days in Ushuaia.    photos