We arrived at our hostel in Cayate–our next stop northward through Argentina–just in time for the second period of the Canada vs. US gold medal hockey game. Over Argentinian beer, we cheered on Canada. Some travellers from Europe joined us and it all felt very international. Canada won, of course, and the universe fell into balance once again, as it does every time Canada wins in hockey.

The next day Dan wasn’t feeling well but John, Jill and I decided to venture out to explore the famous rock formations sprinkled throughout the nearby Quebrada (gorge) de las Conchas. We opted out of taking the tour bus and instead hopped on a regional bus for a fraction of the cost. The bus drove us about 40 km out of town and dropped us off at the side of a dirt road. We were surrounded by some of the most bizarrely shaped sedimentary rocks and mountains, all carved over billions of years by water erosion. Our first stop was the Garganta del Diablo, or Throat of the Devil. South Americans seem to like naming places after the devil.

From the side of the road, the Devil’s Throat looked like a narrow crack in an otherwise solid rock wall. But as we walked into the crevice, the space widened to reveal an eroded valley with a steep incline strewn with rocks and trees. I felt like I was seeing the mountain’s internal organs. People were climbing the rocks and heading deeper into the crevice but Jill and I were too risk-adverse to do so. The not-so-risk-adverse John scrambled up and got some amazing photos to tell the tale.

After the Garganta, we walked along the dirt road to the next formation, El Anfiteatro. Aptly enough, we found a local musician entertaining tourists inside this cylindrical space where the accoustics are in fact as good as any man-made amphitheatre.

At this point, we were getting quite tired and didn’t think we could make it on foot to the next rock. As I mentioned before, most people do this on a tour bus. Rather than waiting an hour on the side of the road for the next bus to town, we stuck out our thumbs–this being our first hitchhiking attempt in South America, and our second time ever, we were a bit nervous and agreed we would only go along with nice looking people. Several cars passed and barely even looked our way. Then, a couple pulling out of the parking lot in front of El Anfiteatro called us over. Being a young couple, also tourists and driving a rental car, we felt that they were good candidates. It turned out they were both from Buenos Aires and also traveling to Cafayate for the night.

The great thing about hitching a ride with tourists is that they want to make the same stops you do. We stopped at a beautiful lookout point called Tres Cruces for the three white crosses lining the ridge. We even stopped at a local winery, got a tour of the operations and tasted some local wine called La Punilla. This area is famous for the white wine called torrontés which is quite sweet–they even make ice cream out of it! We opted for the red Cabernet Sauvignon for a cheap 48 pesos (12.67 CAD), cheap but still the most expensive bottle we’ve bought in Argentina.

We convinced the couple to book beds at our hostel so we all headed there. Dan greeted us with some good news; I’d got into York University’s political science Master’s program and to celebrate he’d bought alfajores, my favourite Argentinian desert and 2 (more!) bottles of wine. That was an especially fun night as the hostel was preparing a barbecue for the guests with wine included!! There was a lot of wine to be had that night and much to celebrate: my first Master’s acceptance and our successful and unexpected DIY adventure hitchhiking through the Quebrada.