I had traveled to South America during January before but I had never actually spent the holidays anywhere but in Virginia with my family. During the two and a half weeks we spent in Argentina, I learned a lot about myself and about how much family and friendships are valued in Argentina, in South America in general.
One of my favorite moments in Argentina is when we visited one of Diego’s grandmothers who literally lives in the mountains. The drive there was a bumpy one, as the rode consists of pebbles rather than gravel, and there were so many moments when my fear of heights was really put to the test. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my eyes away from the view and with each twist and turn up the mountains, the world below looked farther and farther away. When we finally reached her house, I felt strangely comforted by the stillness of the town. It was almost as if I had entered a bubble of beauty only we knew about.
The air was so crisp and clear that when the night started to descend, every color appeared more vibrant. I have mentioned this before but sometimes I really do think about just moving to the country for awhile. I’m not sure I’d last terribly long but I’d be willing to give it a shot. New York City can beat you down and then lift you back as if nothing ever happened. Living there has given me so much confidence but it’s also added extra padding to my shell whereas, here in the Argentine countryside, I felt like nothing could harm me.
The next day we drove through a few of the neighboring towns, passing families playing in the river, horses grazing in green pastures and landscapes that would make you week in the knees. I had traveled to Argentina once before with Diego but this was the first time that we really ventured outside of his town. It was a really special feeling to experience these natural escapes with him and in many ways, I think I came to understand him more because of it.
A few days before heading back to the US, we joined another couple for a trip to Tafí del Valle, a scenic retreat just a few hours drive from Tucumán. Unlike Las Estancias – Aconquija, Catamarca, Tafí is more than a summer town. This is perhaps best proven by the gravel, rather than pebble, roads leading up these mountains. Many residents living in Tucumán either own a house out here or they visit with family members who do. Summer (which is winter for those of us in the US) is the most popular season but there are many people who live here year round.