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By Samir

The day after our trip to the salt flats, we headed south to check out the wine-producing region of Cafayate. There was so much beautiful scenery along the way that we took nearly as much pictures on this day as we did of the Iguazu Falls. Many of the places we stopped were places where it looked like a vertical slice had been cut from the mountainside. We walked in, and they would open up into an area where you could continue climbing up into nooks and crannies, or into wide open spaces where you could hear echoes. Thinking back to Cafayate, we can still hear the echoes of the other giggling tourists. The two stops we remember were The Devil’s Throat (La Garganta del Diablo) and The Amphitheater (El Anfiteatro).

As with the trip to the salt flats, our time spent in an actual winery was not much compared to the time spent driving to and from, though it was a excellent way to see the scenery without having to do the driving directly, which took much of the day.

However, we did stop at one winery – Vasija Secreta. We got a tour of the production facilities. They had huge barrels, which were quite impressive. At one point during the tour, they pointed out a poem hanging on an overhead banner, which read:

“Cafayate es famoso porque por don de Dios posee uvas unicas en el mundo y por decision del hombre un especial respeto por los buenos vinos.”

Which roughly translates to:

Cafayate is famous by the grace of God because it holds grapes unique to the world and because of the decision of man to have special respect for great wines.

We didn’t enjoy the particular wines offered for the tasting as much, though we heard great things from other tourists about wines at nearby wineries in the region. (Perhaps another time…)

In the evening, we went to Paseo Balcarce, a five-block hip area of town with late-night clubs, restaurants, lights, shops, and street vendors. Though we waited over an hour for food, we had several drinks with a friend we’d met earlier in the day. Conversation flowed with the drinks, and we had a great time. Side Note: Argentinians eat dinner late, and go out to the pub/club late – we left the restaurant just before midnight, and the live band was just getting set-up for the night.

The next day, we relaxed at the hotel a bit and took some great shots of the city (our hotel was up on a hillside). And then, somewhat late in the day, decided to head to San Lorenzo to go horseback-riding. Not knowing the bus schedule, we took a taxi out, which dropped us off in the “main commercial area”, which was a strip mall with four shops in it. We had lunch and then started walking around. The town was beautiful. Very few vehicles, tree-lined two-lane roads, with leaves fluttering in the wind along the parkways (no sidewalks though). We found an adventure sports place, but we’d arrived too late, so we just kept walking. After a bit of uphill hiking, we ended up at the Quebrada – a stream running in the valley between mountains, with some picnic tables nearby. We enjoyed some quiet time, listening to the brook as it meandered its way over random rocks in the stream-bed. Gorgeous. We took a bus on the way back, which was substantially cheaper than the taxi had been, and took about the same amount of time.

In our free time around the city on our last day in town, we took some pictures at the monument to General Guemes, who is a national hero in Argentina. Everywhere we went seemed to have a major street named after him. It was in a big park on a hillside. We passed it a few times during our stay at the hotel, and noted that it was always packed with people in small groups, sitting on the steps, and in the plaza. It was encouraging to see people (many of whom were teenagers) hanging out at the park/plaza.

Salta was a beautiful city both during the daytime and at night. It never felt like a 500,000 person large city – we always felt like it was a small city of maybe 50,000 people. Just very laid-back, and relaxed. It was a great way to end our vacation. Well, before getting on another 20+ hour bus ride back to Buenos Aires.

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