Charlotte and I took and early bus to Cafayate so we would have the entire day to play. We knew of a walk where once you get to the river you can climb up along the river for 1.5 hours to waterfalls with swimming holes, our only plan for the day. However, first things first, we stopped at a cafe for some coffee and a snack. The gentlemen playing the guitar in the restaurant told us we should stay in the same hostel he was staying in and provided us with directions on where it was located. We headed down the street to see what it was like and found a private room with 3 beds and a private bathroom for 40 pesos a night (about $10 US). Not a bad deal at all. We unloaded our stuff and realized the door didn’t lock but the folks working there were all sitting in the courtyard and assured us that they would look after our stuff. Feeling a little uncomfortable about whether it was safe we decided to take all the important documents with us and left our bags with our wishes of safekeeping. We headed across the street to an ice cream parlor (now we’ve already established I have an addiction to ice cream but it has been 4 days since my last one). Most important, and why I’m breaking my streak of abstinence, is because they have wine flavored ice cream. The main heladaria that is know for these flavors had a line out the door but we waited patiently for the treat of the day. They have both cabernet and torrontes flavored ice cream and we both decided to get a scoop of each. They are more of a sorbet, no dairy, and incredibly tasty. While we sat in the shade and slowly absorbed what alcohol was left we were approached by a guy, Mike, from Canada. I think he heard us speaking English and took the opportunity to say hello. After chatting with him for a bit we invited him to join us on our trip to the river.
We set off for the Rio Colorado thinking it was about 2 miles away; the reality was about 1.5 hours of walking in the basking sun and heat. After a couple of detours through some local farms we found our way to the river around 7:30pm. It was another 1.5 hours to the waterfalls and swimming holes so we didn’t have the time to make it up there before it got dark. Considering we were in the canyon it would get really dark as soon as the sun set behind the mountains, we decided to sit by the river and have a snack while soaking our feet. After another 30 minutes or so we headed back toward the parking lot area and were stopped by a gentlemen with a sign in book. He asked if we signed in when we arrived, we hadn’t but we inquired as to why we had to sign in. He stated that if you don’t come back and sign out at the end of the day, they go up into the canyon to search for you; such a great policy for these remote places. We struck up a conversation with this fellow, David, and he started telling us about the area. He spoke nice and clear Spanish for us and Charlotte interpreted any words we don’t know. After a bit the sun was setting and the colors in the Quebrada canyon are absolutely amazing. David tells us to follow him and we scramble up the rocks on the side of a cliff for an amazing view of the valley, the town of Cafayate in the distance, and the canyon colors. The photos I took don’t begin to do it justice but it was one of the most beautiful places. Once it gets really dark we head back down with David and into the campground next to the river where he is staying. Next to his tint is his pride and joy, a 1980 Gran Torino. He tells us that if we can wait 15 minutes for him, he will drive us back into town. We decided to take him up on his hospitality. Before we could get comfortable he pulled out a double hammock and hung it for us, then cut up a cold grapefruit for us all to share. Typical Argentine, these people are the most welcoming and generous souls. They are always inviting you to dine with them, stay at their houses, etc. Around 9:30 we jumped in the car and headed back to town. We spend most of the ride looking out the sun roof at the stars. We are far away enough from any civilization that the night sky is absolutely amazing. You can see the Milky Way clear as day and more stars then I remember in the northern hemisphere. Beautiful. Along the way David told us stories of his travels, he has been to 37 different countries; he even told us of the time he was driving and the steering wheel came off as he was heading down the dirt road. I’ll remember that story forever.
Once we get back to down David wants us to join him for dinner, of course we obliged. He took us to a restaurant where we got a table on the sidewalk (in Argentina all the restaurants have sidewalk tables) and they had live Argentina Chacarera music with local traditional dancers. I swung by the hotel and grabbed the bottle of wine I purchased in the winery outside of Mendoza. David knew the waiter and persuaded him to let us drink it by telling him it was a special gift his father had sent him. We sat and enjoyed the music and dancing until just after midnight. Exhausted we retired for the evening. Day one was a great one in Cafayate.