So we'd had our fill of the wine lands, and continued the journey north towards the next stop called San Miguel de Tucuman. A region known for surreal vistas, outdoor adventure, and, very important to any starving traveller, tasty local cuisine. It has an all encompassing terrain from bustling city to dense jungle forest to expansive flowering fields to harsh cactus filled deserts. A true spectacle of a region.
After a twelve hour bus trip (thank you Mr. Jobs for giving us the iPad. Tunes and movies do wonders to drown out the drone of the exasperating Spanish films on board). We arrived pretty tired, and had to do a three kilometre trek to our hostel. Navigating the stifling but colourful streets was interesting to say the least. After fending off several unwanted offers from some local ladies of the night (most of them could have passed for a badly dressed cast of a Spanish Rocky Horror remake), we checked in to our hostel, and more specifically, into our beds (for our first dorm night experience - eish).
The town of Tucuman was a lot busier than Mendoza, and the locals seemed a lot less welcoming with an icy edge to their "Ola's". We ate out, soaked up the town's vibe, and tried to condition our minds to the Argentinian way of life! Basically, this involves snoozing 'til late morning, having a bunch of pastries for breakfast, then shopping/touring/siesta until lunch time at about 3 o'clock, then more siesta. Once awake again, you then begin to contemplate meal plans for the evening, but you actually only go out for the dinner at eleven thirty or so, and if you have any ounce of strength after that, you head out for cocktails and a some really bad attempts at tango until who knows what time! We may get it right by the end of this journey.
We had really wonderful hosts who helped generously with information, rented a car for us, and even surprised us with an Argentinian birthday cake.
Apart from a few hairy moments exiting the city (think taxi driver on a Roman round about), the rental car was brilliant. We could stop anywhere to check out the vistas, sample the delicious offerings, and shoo the odd llama off the road. The drive took us out towards the Andean range that runs parallel to the city, and to the greater province of Tucuman. The vistas and topography of this area was unfathomably vast and spectacular. The landscape spectrum went from thick humid jungle(picture Tsitsikamma forest), to breathless cloud and snow covered peaks, right through to thirst sapping arid desert. Truly surreal. Hopefully the pictures do it some justice.
As with all journeys in this kind of flux, you need a few admin days in between all the fun stuff to plan the next few days for, hopefully, more fun stuff. This being a heavily Catholic country, and now carrying some serious Pope cred, the Easter celebrations had notably begun. This of course meant that most of the accommodation from Tucuman to the Bolivian border was pretty much all but booked out! So with some "holiday induced stress", we spent a day researching our next move. We decided to head north to Salta for a splash out stay in a fancy hotel for the birthday. Bus trip here we come. Blog you later everyone!