From Carlos Pellegrini we took a rocky 4 am bus ride to the town of Mercedes where we connected with another bus to Corrientes. After reading the description of Corrientes in Lonely Planet (which actually says ‘F#$% Corrientes’) we weren’t particularly inspired to go exploring. We bought tickets with Aconquija, the bus line that runs through the Quebrada de Cafayete.

Our first stop was the spectacular town of Tafi De Valle. Our bus climbed for hours, navigating narrow mountain roads, winding through countless switchbacks, crossing streams and revealing amazing views of towering Argentinian mountain ranges.

Stepping off the bus in Tafi was quite a shock; for the first time in months we felt cold! The town is nestled in a valley next to a small, still lake and surrounded on all sides by mountains. After checking into our hostel we discovered a massive fruit and vegetable stand and loaded ourselves up with fresh veggies that we would later convert into a healthy, gut-warming stew. We later browsed the markets and picked up traditional alpaca wool sweaters. Mmmm, toasty.

John and I rented bikes from a supermarket and set off on a photo taking adventure. We huffed and puffed our way up the mountainous terrain, quickly exhausted by the altitude. John stopped to take pictures while I continued to climb. There were lots of bikers in the area outfitted with spandex shorts and expensive bikes. I tried to keep pace with my grocery store rental, sporting blue jeans and a sweater. I climbed as high as I could before stopping to take pictures of the town below.

We reunited at the end of the day and discovered that we had all discovered some interesting locally made artisan products. Living in a such a remote town must encourage local products! Calina found a sweet red wine with a handmade label that read “patero” and a mild goat cheese. She and Jill also picked up some deliciously flavoured chocolates. John and I returned with a locally brewed beer called Quechua. Everything was delicious.

That night we went to a ballet production in the town square where dancers depicted the history of the Tucumán province of Argentina. That night we slept snug in our beds, piled high with thick blankets, fully aware that we were experiencing a completely different version of Argentina than we had during our month in Buenos Aires.

In the morning we woke up and decided to cook some corn on the cob to take with us on the road. Unfortunately, the hostel’s kitchen was extremely crowded and understocked and we had to cook our corn in a gigantic pot that took forever to boil. To make matters worse, the hostel manager made us pay extra for using the kitchen after our checkout time which meant the cost of cooking our corn was more then ten times the price of the corn itself. We were running out of time since we only had minutes left to catch our bus to the next town. At the last possible moment we plucked the corn from the pot, dumped it in a plastic bag filled with salt and ran to the bus station. We got there with just enough time to enjoy our piping hot salty cobs on the steps of the bus station while we took shifts buying tickets and loading bags. Delicious!