The Argentine North
The Argentine North
It’s an Argentina far removed from the capital’s bustle. A thousand miles northwest of Buenos Aires, in Jujuy, the Andes loom not far away, just out of sight but defining the ways of life. The gnocchi and steaks of the south abruptly disappear to a more Andean style dish called locro, a highland maize-and-pork stew full of soul-satisfying textures. The road north towards southern Bolivia winds upwards through the otherworldly colours of the Quebrada de Humahuaca; indigenous handcrafts brighten village markets, locals chew coca, and ruined thousand-year-old fortresses crumble among giant trident-shaped cardón cactuses. Off the highway, asphalt becomes rutted dirt, and battered buses churn through mud or dust to settlements where the daily rituals of llama-herding and coping with high-altitude life on the puna go on. Buenos Aires is a world away. Make sure you bring your 4x4 because it's a wild ride through the Andean Northwest.
Geographically, the Andean Northwest of Argentina is located in the central western area of South America. It's easy to see the confluence of cultures from Bolivia, Chile and the Argentina all meeting in this one area.
Argentine cuisine may be described as a cultural blending of Indigenous, Mediterranean influences (such as those created by Italian and Spanish populations) within the wide scope of livestock and agricultural products that are abundant in the country. Beyond asado (the Argentine barbecue), no other dish more genuinely matches the national identity. Nevertheless, the country's vast area, and its cultural diversity, have led to a local cuisine of various dishes.
Argentine people have a reputation for their love of eating. Social gatherings are commonly centered around sharing a meal. Invitations to have dinner at home is generally viewed as a symbol of friendship, warmth, and integration. Sunday family dinner is considered the most significant meal of the week, and a tradition not lost to that of fast food or tv dinners.
Alpaca sweaters, ponchos, alpargata shoes, the clothes and craftsmanship that went into them is something rare in today's world. If you look really close at the children in the image below, you'll see a New York Yankee hat - a true testament to the popularity of the team... or their marketing efforts.
Climate & Travel
The road signs in Argentina suck.....
Santiago & The Mendoza Wine Region
A bit of a contrast from the north, Mendoza and Santiago are full of European influences. Wine is king in Mendoza. Sampling the Malbecs from the local vineyards was a true highlight of the trip.
Why Northern Argentina? If you're looking to escape, this is the place for you. Untouched by foreign influences, it's readily accessible to those who are willing to explore the valleys, mountains and pueblo villages that make up this area of the world. You better brush up on your Spanish (Castellano in Argentina), because very few people speak English here - just the way I like it!
Never a dull moment.....