Tag Archives: Tafi del Valle

And yet more Argentinian kindness

10 Jul

Now would you meet two foreigners who were looking for someone else in your place of work, invite them back to your house for tea and then give them the keys to your house while you were away so they had a free place to stay?

Yet again I think not…

But this is exactly what happened in Tafi Del Valle, my next stop after Tucuman.

Tafi Del Valle is a small town set at about 1,800 metres. It is surrounded by beautiful hills and the ride from Tucuman was spectacular. I arrived intending to do some hiking as there are some good walks around the area.

But first, I wanted to meet Gustave.

Moises had told us we would find him at the local school. There was only one school in the town and it was a stone’s throw from the hostel so that was my first port of call in Tafi.

Schools in Argentina seem much more fun than schools at home…I did hit the school right at the end of term when the pupils were moving onto high school so maybe it was just a fun time to be there. Anyway there seems to be a tradition of throwing flour on everyone (teachers included)..the kids even left the school to buy more flour in the village when they had run out. Fun indeed!!!!! I asked at the school reception where Gustave was. A woman with the most amazing eye make up I have ever seen told me she would try to find him.

While I was waiting, I met Silvanna. She taught history at the school. She asked me back to her house for mate. Now if some asks you back for mate it is quite an honour so I did not refuse. Her house was quite bizarre. The roof was made of corrugated iron. It seemed rather more like a barn than a house and it was pretty cold as well. In the room at the back of the house, which was all tiled (I am not sure if it had been a butcher’s shop previously?) she played tennis against the wall. Again random…

We chatted for ages.

Drinking Mate with Silvanna

Drinking Mate with Silvanna

She had been married, divorced and now had a partner who was a lawyer. She lived in Tafi during the week and went to stay with her partner at weekends. It was the last day of term so she was heading out of Tafi. Since she was not going to be in her house she offered us the keys of it so that we could stay there for free while she was away…again what kindness…something I would never do at home…she showed us how to heat water, here they heat only exactly the amount of water they need to shower, filling the tank then plugging it in..water and electricity does not seem a good mix to me but hey ho…..cooking was by gas with a calor gas bottle, took me back to caravanning days…and the house locked simply with a padlock and hook, nothing more…..we arranged to go to the school the next day to collect the keys…

Next morning, we got the keys and met Gustave as well. He suggested that we try a walk which started from a place called “El Infiernillo” which started at 3042 metres above sea level, ie, pretty damn high. We would set off from there and the three day route would take us to Cerro Negro, the Black Hill. There was no map of the route available. This seems to be quite common around these parts. You just follow a path and hope for the best.

We spent the rest of the day getting ready for the hike and attempting to hire bikes in Tafi, a task which seemed to be pretty much impossible. The first place which rented bikes was, randomly, the local supermarket but they charged a fortune to rent them so we were then referred on to the local glass shop, which also rented bikes but the guy from there was at the local school for his son’s last day of term so that did not work either. Eventually we just went on a walk up the valley where Lieke, my Dutch travel mate, found her swiss knife which she had lost the day before.

We also stocked up in the local shops on bread, pasta, some sausage and nuts for the trek. Leike needed to buy a camping mat. We were sent around from shop to shop in the town eventually ending up in one which sold everything from washing machines, to computers, to outdoor gear, to children’s playgrounds. It did not have a camping mat. But on the way back to Silvanna’s place we found some polystyrene. Result. We used that to make Lieke a camping mat for the trip.

Next morning we got up early, after a rather restless night in Silvanna´s house. Having a house like a barn does not sit well with heat so it was freezing even in my minus 7 sleeping bag.

There was also a very strange noise during the night which sounded like someone trying to get in but which was probably just a dog. But it all made for a lack of sleep and a lot of shivering and worrying! Just what was needed before the hike!

We left Silvanna a gift and a note with our details.  Her kindness was amazing and again something I would not think of doing back home.  Now off to trek…

Drying washing at Silvanna's place

Drying washing at Silvanna's place

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