I think I have accidentally entered another country without realising it. Yesterday I was sitting on the bus winding up through lush green forested hills and citrus groves on the way to my current destination and today the scenery is all white, grey and brown and oh so cold. Tafi del Valle is a small, pretty cute town nestled into a valley completely surrounded by hills and mountains providing it with a rather unique, and apparently unpredictable, micro climate. Yesterday afternoon, when the sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm to sit outside drinking beer and eating empanadas in a cafe. Last night it did get pretty darn cold but I wasn’t quite prepared to wake up and find that it was snowing. It’s not allowed to snow, honestly, I’m supposed to be on holiday!
So sadly couldn’t go horse riding as I’d planned. Luckily the hostel I’m in, Nomade, is lovely. The guys who run it are big Bob Marley and Che Guevara devotees and sit around playing reggae and drinking mate all day. There are a few other Argentian backpackers and a 71 year old American guy from Southern California who has come over from Tucuman to do some writing, so I’ve been practising my spanish, playing guitar and with the puppy, Chichi Mani who is so adorable but a little too fond of biting my fleece!
It stopped snowing about midday so I decided to go for a small walk and visit the tiny Museo de Mitos y Leyendas (Museum of Myths and Legends) about one hours walk across the valley. ¿Por que no? I was wearing about half the clothes I own, a woolly hat and two scarves. Yes, it really is THAT cold. Well maybe it was just the one scarf. The countryside is so peaceful and appealing in a very stark way at this time of year. Lots of horses, the odd quizzical looking llama, cows, kingfishers, birds of prey and small brown and red birds with yellow tipped wings – clearly I’m in need of a field guide. After about 70 minutes I found the museum, well more like a collection of indigenous art from the north of Argentina. I was shown around by the owner Alejandro, who lives there, and told all about Pachamama, the importance of the four elements and a little elf like creature called El Duende which was supposed to stop children from lying, stealing or getting drunk. Then fuelled by my last two Oreo cookies I wrapped back up and set off back down the valley along the riverside. Hopefully Marco, who helps run the hostel, is cooking up some kind of meat and rice feast tonight and in the meantime I am off to buy some gloves before I get frostbite!