Pedaling South

L'expédition en vélo de l'Alaska à l'Argentine de Lucie et Torrey

Pedaling South header image 2

Wine, WiFi and Eggs without Feathers:
Welcome to Argentina

January 13th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I bought some eggs that didn’t have tiny feathers pasted to their shells. This struck me as unnatural, and I had a brief moment of nostalgia for Bolivia. Yet as I breathed in the sultry afternoon air of Salta, Argentina, a city of half a million that seems at once bustling and laid back, the moment was quickly obliterated.

Great. Just when I though things couldn’t get any weirder. We spent over a month in a country where you can buy mummified llama fetuses on every street corner (used in traditional ceremonies), where Spanish is a second language after Aymara or Quechua, where women wear bowler hats and huge skirts and wear their hair in thick braids, where it’s impossible to get more than 100 meters-worth of directions at a time and a surprising number of people don’t know the name of the town they live in, where people drive beside the road in search of a smoother ride. Yes, Bolivia is weird.

But Argentina? What is this place doing here? Its existence is so totally incongruous with everything we’ve experienced since crossing from California into Mexico over a year ago. It’s like that dream you have where you find that secret door in your house that magically leads to a whole new set of rooms–you’ve all had that dream, right?

Here is a brief list of what is blowing our minds these days:

  • Argentines are beautiful people. They dress well, have good posture, are confident, in shape and on the whole have genetics on their side.
  • Argentine gas stations have free WiFi.
  • Argentine gas stations serve up mean espressos (which are always accompanied with soda water).
  • Argentine restrooms contain the following items that one will almost never encounter in Peru or Bolivia: running water, soap, hand towels, toilet seats and toilets that aren’t just concrete holes.
  • Big downtown stores are closed from 12 PM to 5 PM every day for la siesta.
  • People take vacations.
  • The streets and malls are packed at 10:30 at night on weekdays.
  • Highways are clearly signed.
  • People no longer honk at us as though we were livestock wandering in the road; they toot, smile and wave.
  • Beef is ridiculously good and relatively inexpensive.
  • Even small grocery stores feature a tremendous selection of excellent (domestic) wines. The highest-priced bottles run around $10 US, with the average being about $4.
  • We’ve crossed into yet another time zone, which means we’re 2 hours ahead of Montreal and 6 hours ahead of Anchorage, our point of departure.

We’re finally back on the road after waiting several days for customs to release Lucie’s new camera. A huge thanks to Salta’s Volunteer Firefighters for putting up with us. We’re now riding through Cafayate on our way to Mendoza. Look forward to some real photos in upcoming posts (as opposed to my quick draw shots with my dinky point-and-shoot Kodak) as Lucie gets back to work as Team Pedaling South’s official photographer after more than two weeks off.

Bookmark and Share

Tags: Argentine · Countries

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marya // Jan 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    yay! I’m awed by the facct that you’ve made it so far. really awed! good luck on the last leg!

  • 2 Mathieu G // Jan 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Great post!

  • 3 Gary B // Jan 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Wow! You two….

  • 4 Claude Morin // Jan 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Torrey and Lucie,

    In a few paragraphs, you captured the different atmosphere that hovers over Argentina. Having travelled the same country, by bus though, in October 2007, and now back from Peru, I can appreciate how fair are your comments. You entered new lands. Jujuy is still a transition from Bolivia, but Salta is a step ahead, a foretaste of what lies further south. My comments should not be read as disparaging toward Bolivia or Peru. Geography and history contributed a lot in making these differences.

    Les Argentins sont curieux, aiment échanger. Un meilleur niveau de vie leur permet de multiplier ces petits gestes de générosité envers les visiteurs. J’ai écrit plusieurs pages comparant le Canada et l’Argentine, en insistant sur ce qui nous rapproche. J’avais intitulé un cycle de conférences sur l’Argentine: “un Canada austral?’

    Vous m’impressionnez. Bonne route.

Leave a Comment