San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca Travel Blog

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I embarked to Catamarca in the passenger seat of my Mom’s cousin’s, Luz, car along with her son Gabriel. Shortly after leaving Chilecito we passed the Colorados, richly red rock cliffs and mountains, which the region is famous for. Over the next few hours, the terrain turned from arid desert, to a little greener desert. We stopped in La Rioja the capital city of the Province, La Rioja. We went in to the mall and did a vuelta of the center, which of course had pedestrian only streets, a plaza, a church, and a handful of cafes.

As we continued on our five hour drive to north along the first set of mountains that start to separate Argentina from Chile (there is actually a lot of mountainous land in between them) the land turned from brown to green, but the heat persisted without relief. The good thing I was told, and only briefly believed, about Catamarca is that there is wind to help cool you off. But actually it is so hot that is feels like you are burning at the stake or roasting marsh mellows in the middle of the desert. And there is no point in doing your hair because the wind comes and ruins it, not to mention that it comes from the south and the wind from the south brings dust, a lot of dust.

I asked if they ever thought about having wind produced energy, as they are famous for this wind, but Luz could only give the run of typical reasons why not.

Catamarca was cool just like the rest, although the arab style cathedral was really nice and different. Sorry I did not manage to get any pics of it, we rarely left the house in the daytime. Luz and I went out one night and then later we went out to the same place with her cousin’s son, Pancho (nickname). Pancho took me later that morning to the hillside the runs along the reservoir, which is not for recreational use, where all of the young kids go drink, party, and/or hook up on the side of the road and some areas with benches.

But other than that we really did not spend much time there. Like most people who can, we took off to the mountains where there are a series of summer towns full of summer houses and summer activities, minus the extreme summer weather. We just hung out in Las Juntas, which was really lush and green, full of bugs, animals, and rivers. A cousin of Luz’s has a humble summer home there that we were able to take full advantage of. We ate, played cards a lot, went to the night time events, and hung out at the river when the weather permitted.

The river has multiple forks, we chose the warmer one to enjoy the day by. The are 3 jumping off points into two deep portions of the river, and in between is a natural waterslide. Across the river the is a nice sunning rock, but to get there you had to cross this decievingly small part of the river that started the slide. One weak step or misplaced foot and down you go, smacking the slippery rocks and down the waterslide, there is just no way to resist the flow. I only fell once, but fortunately is was with intention to go down the slide, and not to cross with all of my belongings in my arms like a few that had fallen before me.

Las Juntas was a really nice escape from the heat, as it rained most of the time, and city life, both small and big alike. The summer towns lack television and telephone services (both ground and cell), and only recently installed electricity. The only way to communicate with the rest of the country was to drive near the town entrance, turn off onto a dirt road until you reach a summit of sorts where everybody goes to talk on their cells phones. One time went there and the place was full of police officers. It was us, the cows, and the police all on our cell phones, including the cows.

I was in the province for a week before returning to Chilecito on the bus. Which was kind of sketchy because there is not a direct line, being that Chilecito is small. So I took the bus to La Rioja Capital in hopes that there would be a bus from there to Chilecito that I did not already miss…and there was so that was great! I made it back and there was Sol waiting for me at the terminal.
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San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca