An Ode to Argentina – Part Two

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

“I will profoundly miss you.”

Heather Markel, July 2019.

 

I’ve been so overjoyed to experience not just amzing landscapes but also the beautiful people I’ve met along the way in all of my travels. Discovering the yerba mate culture I quickly got over my fear of sharing straws with strangers to indulge in this beautiful tradition that so defines this beautiful nation. You can get yerba mate in other countries but they don’t share it with strangers the way they do here.

Malbec grapes growing in the Mendoza sun.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

Malbec. Need I say more? No but it was amazing to drink all sorts for pennies instead of $18 a glass. I’ve loved every bodega and every drop. And I’m delighted you let us roam the streets with an open bottle and open cups! (Though it’s a bad idea to do this while at an open air artesanal market in Buenos Aires since it makes everything look to beautiful to pass up!)

“Not to mention the strange and wonderful animals I met for the first time, like guanaco!”

The rolling hills of the north with weaving colors from the minerals in the rocks were as unimaginable as being led to love unexpectedly and small towns and ways of life I’d never have seen otherwise. Hitching my first car ride in the South and then multiple rides along the famous Route 40, even with some gauchos, and a big truck that broke down along the way.

Purmamarca colors.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

Empanadas baked with fish, vegetables, meat and so much more. I never really paid them attention before, but they will be a joyous reminder to me of my time in Argentina. My favorites were from Empanadas Nonino in San Martin de Los Andes, despite being told that Salta has the best ones. 
Seeing the waterfalls of Iguazu, a beauty of nature I still can’t comprehend. I might forgive the coati that stole my lunch but I hope future tourists stop intentionally feeding them. In case you go and think they are cute and are tempted to avoid all the signs not to feed them like so many do, consider that our food makes them sick – many have diabetes and that gets passed down to the next generation – and you are basically killing them by feeding them.

Recharging my cell phone every week, dealing with high ATM fees to get cash, (when I could even find a bank to give me more than $100 at a time), and finding so many places that don’t deal with credit cards, or say their machine is broken, is an interesting part of life in Argentina. This is the only country in the world where I’ve been given candy in the place of coins the merchants didn’t have! But the prices are so cheap I can’t complain too  much.

The 18+ hour bus rides in large seats complete with movies and food and sometimes good views even if I never managed to fall asleep. Dancing the tango was not quite my dance because it’s too sensual to do without a male partner but the city of Buenos Aires felt like home and had so much beauty.

A 90 year young woman lives in my final hostel in Argentina for now. She is lovely and insists on washing my dishes and walks up and down the huge, steep staircase each day. She colored her hair the same week I got mine highlighted. The day I leave she is in the supermarket by our hostel as my taxi arrives. He waits for me so I can run in and say goodbye to her. I get a kiss on the cheek, a big hug, and an exchange of hope to see each other again. I feel like Argentina blessed me with a wonderful grandma to let me know it will be thinking of me too. Argentina, I love you.

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