Exploring Northern Argentina – Day 5 – Purmamarca, Jujuy

The final recap! EVER. Well until the next adventure at least. Quite appropriately this happens to be on of the best days. Not only was it my 23rd birthday but it was generally frigging awesome.

We spent two nights in Purmamarca, a windy little town with not a whole lot more than beautiful scenery, a load of hotels, a touristy market and access to the Salinas Grandes. Luckily we were staying in a beautiful hotel with incredible food. (The rest of the hotel was a bit…odd. It had a pool but there was little mention of it. And the gym was literally one weights machine…body weights circuit it was!).

La Comarca Pumamarca

So, birthday morning. A great breakfast involving yoghurt and coco pops – these still excite me no matter my age having never been allowed them as a kid. Then it was off on a little 3km walk around the mountain of seven colours that looks over the town. It was absolutely stunning, especially in the morning light. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Purmamarca FootballYou know you’re in Latin America when you can always find a football pitch

Purmamarca CowsAnd you know you’re in Argentina when you find some random cows…

 

Purmamarca 1

Purmamarca 2

Purmamarca 3

After that we returned to the trusty Clio ready to drive over to the Salinas Grandes. Lonely Planet told us it was at 3350m so we assumed the car wouldn’t have any issues considering we were already pretty high.

WELL, there was a MOUNTAIN in the middle. Thanks for the warning LP… Nonetheless, we edged higher and higher, becoming increasingly aware of the petrol gauge moving ever more rapidly towards the red as the car struggled more and more. (Always get a 4×4 and a tonne of fuel people, there’s no gas station in Pumamarca!) But we made it to the top! Proof:

Salinas Grandes Mountain

ClioLittle old Clio at 4170m

Aaaaand then we kinda freewheeled all the way to the Salinas Grandes (salt flats) which were just wow:

Salinas Grandes RoadAll that white? Salt.

Salinas Grandes with DadPapa and me

I feel I should make special album for the photo outtakes from this trip… Graceful as ever:

Salinas Grandes

What a crazyass birthday! I felt incredibly blessed. All topped off with champagne and chocolate cake, what more do you need?

Exploring Northern Argentina – Days 3 & 4 – Humahuaca, Jujuy

After our adventures in Iguazú, it was time to fly to Salta to begin exploring the Andes, on the border with Chile and Bolivia. Upon arrival we hired a car from Avis in Salta airport to start our road trip. Now, being, well my dad and me, we went for the cheapest option – a Renault Clio. I.e. a small car. I do not recommend this! Get the 4×4! You’ll find out why later.

So, the road trip. We set off from Salta airport mid afternoon and tried to buy a map of the province of Jujuy from a nearby gas station. No luck. Not to worry though as we did things the old fashioned way – used signs along with the rubbish tourist map in the car and stopped and asked in shops for directions now and again – much more fun!

The further we drove the more and more incredible the scenery became… I mean, it was just awe-inspiring…

Jujuy Roadtripping 1

Jujuy Roadtripping 2

We drove all the way up to a little town called Humahuaca, about 4 hours, and I think I had my mouth hanging open the whole way. Humahuaca is a beautiful, quiet and surprisingly still traditional pueblo high up in Jujuy at 3012m.

We arrived just before sunset and found our way to the tiny guesthouse we were staying in before heading out to the loveliest restaurant for dinner, as recommended to us by the owner. Jujuy province itself has a landscape that can seem quite bleak at times as it is incredibly rocky. But these rocks are brightened by stunning splashes of colour and the same can be seen in the towns and villages themselves. From the outside the buildings are dark and purposeful. Then you walk inside and are greeted by a warming array of colours and fabrics to shelter you from the aggressive outdoors…

Humahuaca RestaurantWhere I tried my first llama stew!

The next day we had planned to drive up to see the Hornocal, a mountain of 14 colours about 30km out of Humahuaca. But of course this is Argentina and things are never that simple. Our day kinda went like this:

1. The road was a stone track

2. Said road climbed about another 1000m or so with a lot of hairpin bends

3. We were in a Renault Clio. The few other cars we saw were about triple our size

4. We pickd up a hitchiker. She can’t have been more than about 15 and was incredibly quiet – as all local people in Jujuy are – but seemed pretty pleased to have a lift home to her village rather than walking the 20-something km…

5. Saw some llamas

6. Tried not to freak out about the vertical drops off the side of the road

7. The Clio died ONE KILOMETRE from the end. Yup.

HornocalYou can just see the edge of the Hornocal in the far right of the photo

So we saw the edge of the Hornocal. I must say it was a very beautiful edge. (Yes we could have walked the final 1km but we didn’t want to turn the engine off as we were worried it wouldn’t start again)

Moral of the story – little engines don’t like high altitude as they run out of oxygen. Spend the extra money and get the 4×4 and see the whole mountain!

Humahuaca ValleyWe drove up from the bottom of this valley

LlamasLlamas

Even with the accidental extra excitement I absolutely loved Humahuaca. We only stayed one night as it was a pretty small place with not a great deal to do but a lovely peaceful atmosphere, a wonderful market selling all sorts of handmade goods and clothing as well as some pretty delicious dinner!

Next stop – Purmarmca, Salinas Grandes and a birthday.

Exploring Northern Argentina – Days 1 & 2 – Iguazú Falls

Finally things have calmed down a little and I have some time to sit and write up my final adventures in Argentina – it already seems so long ago!

After a very delayed flight due to fog in Buenos Aires my dad and I arrived in Iguazú (the argentine side) late morning. We were picked up and taken to our hotel. It wasn’t at all how I imagined it to be through their website, not helped by all the building works going on,  which put a slight dampener on things. Nonetheless the staff were lovely and helpful and the setting – in the jungle – was pretty spectacular.

We immediately got a taxi across the border into Brazil to go and see the falls. They say that you get a more panoramic view from the brazilian side, whereas from the argentine side you can get more up close and personal, something I would definitely agree with!

In fact, we were incredibly lucky to see the falls at all. In the weeks before we visited, the area had experienced severe flooding, the remnants of which were still there. But, of course, it was still completely breathtaking…even if a little brown! Now time for a photo dump…

Iguazú Falls 1First view of the falls

10418154_10152162978516123_5158073046690641342_nThese little creatures were everywhere, terribly cute but also very vicious! 

10553556_10152162978791123_459924180944028618_n

10534529_10152162978876123_3358449207674249106_nHalf of this walkway was closed off as it had been damaged in the floods

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After following the small circuit round the various viewpoints we grabbed some lunch from the restaurant next to the top of the falls. It was horrifically expensive as expected but the food was okay! And I continued to speak Spanish due to my utter lack of Portuguese! That evening we had a delicious free 3 course meal in our hotel, I forgot to take photos but I enjoyed an amazing coconut sweetcorn soup, river fish and (naturally) chocolate volcano cake for dessert. The perks of booking directly!

The next day was spent exploring the argentine side of the falls. Whilst a lot was still closed off due to damage/extreme water flow there was still plenty to see. And up close and personal we got:

Iguazu 2

Iguazu 3The noise was just incredible!

Iguazu Boat Trip

We took a boat trip to go and see the falls from the water and got rather drenched! Our driver raced along the rapids and then swerved in and out of the cascades of water, so much fun! Although there was one rather worried looking man on our boat who I felt a bit bad for!

Iguazu Boat Trip 2

An incredible sight. The rest of Iguazú is pretty…nothing to be honest so by the time our 2 days were up I was ready for the next stage of our adventure…

Have you ever been to see a waterfall like this?

{MIMM} A week back home…

…in the loosest sense of the term. Although this week was my first official Monday-Sunday back in the UK, I wasn’t really at home much. The start of the week was spent in beautiful Oxfordshire to be with my family.

I enjoyed a couple of scenic runs and a WOD in the park…

River Thames

Warborough Green

I caught up with an old friend in Henley for a mini-picnic and a wander along the river.

One afternoon by auntie and I went for a quick stroll along the river before lunch and saw these cows taking a dip…

Cows in the ThamesThey definitely had the right idea in this heat…

The second half of the week was spent at home. Plenty of house sorting! A delicious dinner out with a friend at the new Wagamama’s in Hereford, I had a delicious tuna steak salad. Love that place.

I baked some of Amanda’s almond butter chocolate chip muffins for some healthy snacking – so good!! (I only had a small jar of almond butter so used half almond butter half pnb, am feeling a trip to Wholefoods coming on…)

Run With Spoons Almond Muffins

I saw my friend for the last time before she flies back to Australia *sniff sniff*, we had a lovely coffee outside in the sunshine and I rather raided TK Maxx’s sportswear department… It was all much needed I promise!

On Friday I cycled to Hay-on-Wye, had lunch and cycled home again. The entire trip was 80km and it was so lovely to be back on my bike again :) even if I did get rather sunburnt on my back where I couldn’t reach with the suncream… And I didn’t feel too great in the heat – be careful out there and keep hydrated!

The Granary Hay-on-WyeThe view from my lunch spot

photo 1 (11)I refuelled with my first green smoothie since getting home, holy yum! This was nice and simple – frozen banana, spinach, pnb and almond milk

Saturday was again spent driving to and from Oxfordshire whilst on Sunday I ‘enjoyed’ a very sweaty morning run and then spent the afternoon sorting out my new iPhone (5S), super excited!

All in all a pretty busy but pretty marvelous week!

MiMM

How was your last week?

{Recipe} Crunchy Turkey Tahini Salad

I enjoyed this salad yesterday afternoon, hiding away from the heat of the day in the deliciously cool kitchen to the soundtrack of some chilled summer tunes with a new magazine for my entertainment. It was heavenly.

I was craving something crisp, fresh and cooling, with a bit of zing. And that’s just what this salad is. The cabbage provides a bit of crunch, the lemon is refreshing and (naturally) tangy. Whilst the honey offsets this and the tahini brings it all together… A plate of happiness.

Crunchy Tahini Turkey Salad

Crunchy Turkey Tahini Salad

(Serves 1)

Baby leaf salad (I used a small bag of baby leaf salad reduced from Waitrose)

1/8th of a white cabbage, chopped finely

2 spring onions, chopped finely

1/2 yellow pepper, chopped finely

1 turkey (or chicken) breast, grilled and chopped up

1/3 lemon, juiced

1/2 tablespoon runny honey

1/2 tablespoon tahini

Mix all the veg and turkey together in a large bowl.

In a separate, smaller, bowl stir together the lemon juice, honey and tahini until fully combined.

Pour all over the salad and use the mixing spoon to ensure that everything is fully coated in dressing.

Plate and enjoy!

Crispy Tahini Turkey Salad (2)

A simple summer salad to cool down on hot days.

On a side note, I now have Instagram! I didn’t have space for it on my diddy iPhone when I was living in BA but have finally sorted that out (…deleted loads of stuff) – I’m at cherries_chisme :)

What foods have you been enjoying to escape the heat this summer (or last summer for those in the Southern hemisphere!)?

{Thinking Out Loud} Life gone crazy

So I’m back in the UK and life’s all gone a little mad…

- On Saturday (5th July) I turned 23 and drove over a 4170m mountain to get to the Salt Flats near Argentina’s border with Chile… It was pretty breathtaking.

Salinas Grandes Argentina

- On Sunday we had to cut our trip short and fly home early due to a family emergency. This took 1 hire car, 2 taxis, 1 shuttle bus down a motorway, 1 car and 5 flights. Joyous.

- Monday night was spent sleeping on Barcelona airport floor with a Toblerone advert going on on repeat in the duty free shop behind. I now do NOT like Toblerones…

- We landed in Gatwick on Tuesday morning and waited to collect our luggage…and waited…and waited…still waiting. Apparently it went AWOL somewhere between Madrid-Barcelona-London. They’ve found one and it’s on it’s way to us but we still don’t know if it’s dad or mine (better be mine… ;) my whole life in a rucksack!)

- On Tuesday night I went to bed for the first time since Saturday and slept 12 hours straight.

- I have a new house! Well I did a while back (with my dad) but actually living in it now and have seen it! I love it :)

- Did my first supermarket shop yesterday and was so excited! Hello almond milk, almond butter, pnb, kale, ohhh the happiness. And emergency underwear.

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- Made myself a birthday cake last night. Chocolate obviously. With aubergines in it… Not that you’d ever know! Thanks to the goddess that is Harry Eastwood and her incredible cook books.

- It’s looking like I’m going to be living with one of my old friends in London come autumn when I start my Masters so that is super exciting :)

- All of a sudden it is summer. It doesn’t get dark until into the evening. This is confusing.

- And now because it is actually Wednesday I must hold my eyes open and watch the rest of the Argentina-Holland game before falling into my heavenly bed… Zzzz

Kudos to Amanda for letting me write this incoherent post.

Thinking-Out-Loud2

Any madness in your life at the moment?

 

 

{Reflections} My life in Argentina

I am writing this in advance, with two weeks left in Argentina. As you read this I am (hopefully) travelling somewhere in the province of Jujuy, in the north of Argentina. Either that or I’m majorly lost… Help?

So here it is, the blog post I imagined writing so long ago. My reflections on my life in Argentina. How to put it into words? I’ll give it my best attempt…

I came out here with next to no expectations. I had no idea what the past six months would bring, the inspirational people I would meet, how I would evolve nor quite how much I would fall in love with this city. Throughout my time here I have learnt so much…about life itself, Argentina, my internship, a whole new culture and, ultimately, about myself. And for that I am so grateful.

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So it seems only right to structure this post as my personal “thank yous” (graciases?) to Buenos Aires…

Gracias…for all your quirks. For not following the rules. For giving me my coffee for free because you have no change. For your crazy drivers, even if it’s a bit terrifying sometimes. For your weirdness. For making it up as you go along. For showing me that life works without rules. For doing things your own way.

Gracias…for your openness. For being my playground. For CrossFit being open 15 hours a day because you never know when someone might want a class. For it being acceptable to party any night of the week. But also for it being acceptable not to. For every day bringing a new discovery, a new marvel. For opening my eyes. For what I see when I look up.

Gracias…for giving me the freedom to be and do as I choose. For taking me away from my routine. For the adventure.

Gracias…for taking me away from all that I knew. For providing me with the time and space to think and reflect on my life. I wouldn’t say I’ve “grown-up” as such (I can already be a bit of a granny) but I have grown as a person and evolved. I’ve learnt more about myself than I ever thought I could. I’ve lost the restrictions I constantly used to place upon myself. It’s still work in progress but I’m getting there. I now know I don’t have to be the perfect version of myself. I just need to live, to the full, how I want to, everyday. I now know where I want to go in my life and what I want to do. I now know that it’s okay to be me.

Gracias…for bringing me back to me. And for making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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This may seem like one of the “cheesier” blog posts I’ve written but perhaps you need to take a leap for you. Step out of your comfort zone. Open your mind. See what you learn. Then you’ll understand.

{Reflections} Cat-calling in Buenos Aires

This post is not meant to “generalise” all men here into one stereotype. It is purely a summary of my experiences. Luckily there are also some perfectly nice guys!

Every woman that has been to Buenos Aires (as well many other places across the globe where machismo is still strong) and walked down the street alone or without a man will have experienced cat-calling (piropos). They say it’s a compliment. “Oh how beautiful you are!”; “¡Que lindo!”; “¡Que hermosa; “¡Ey rubia!!” “Hello very nice how are you” to the more vulgar and explicit “I want to XXXX you” and various other things that I’m very glad I don’t understand.

One day last week I wasn’t feeling very well and as such I felt really hot all day (temperature wise!). So I wore a shortish white dress to work. Ironically this coincided with the coldest day of the year so far (the rest of me was well bundled up don’t worry). Just one block after leaving my apartment I was already considering going home to change as I felt so uncomfortable from the comments and stares I was getting. In just one block. But if I had done this I would’ve been late for work. Besides, I’m stubborn, I wanted to wear that dress, so why on earth shouldn’t I?

Now, let’s get something straight here. Cat-calling is not a compliment. It never will be a compliment. It is degrading and at times downright threatening.

In the world in which we live in today, victimisation of women is sadly commonplace. Everyday there are stories in the news of women being attacked and abused. And this is not something detached from our everyday lives, I believe it is now thought that 1 in 4 women will be victims of some sort of domestic abuse at some point in their lifetimes. Not only is that simply not acceptable but it highlights just how threatening cat-calling can be.

If I’m alone, on a run and some complete stranger makes some sort of perverse comment at me, of course I am going to feel uncomfortable. I have absolutely no idea who you are nor do I know anything of your motives. I’m already exhausted I can hardly run any faster if I need to get away!

Even the mayor of Buenos Aires has been quoted as saying that women “enjoy” getting these comments and if we don’t say so we are lying. I’m sorry, what?!

I wonder how these men would feel if they heard these comments being made to their wives/girlfriends/sisters/daughters? Furious, I’d imagine. So why is it acceptable for them to do it to a perfect stranger?

It isn’t.

I’m not a piece of meat so quit treating me like one.

What are you experiences of this?

A run through the woods, a Québec fiesta and a speakeasy

This weekend was my last weekend in Buenos Aires solo, as my dad arrives this Friday. And it was pretty darn awesome! Friday was a feriado (national holiday) and a beautiful day so I took advantage of the weather and went on a beautiful 8km run through the woods and around the lake. The man in the lift seemed a bit alarmed that I was actually going to run “a whole 8km”, he thought I was just going for a walk haha!

Bosques del PalermoWe had my friend’s leaving do on Friday night. She’s from Québec so her (chef) boyfriend cooked up a storm, Québec style, in the kitchen. We started with pâté, had a whole range of things for the main and then a sweet spongey dessert to finish off – wow!! Three of us (me included) have birthdays in July so we were surprised with specially presented dessert each with a candle in, so thoughtful!

Québec fiestaAfter a killer Saturday CrossFit session (and a very sleepy rest of the day) a couple of the girls and I went to Frank’s – a “secret” speakeasy here in Buenos Aires. We had to give a password at the first door and then punch a code into a telephone box which then opened into a door to let us in… Where we then had some fabulous cocktails…

Frank'sAnd of course silly selfies ensued…

2014-06-22 00.19.02

After a failed lie-in attempt on Sunday morning (cannot wait to get a comfy bed again!) I met my friend at a Jewish restaurant for some brunch/lunch/food. We shared this plate of deliciousness…

Jewish restaurant

And then wandered around Palermo looking at the shops and the market. We had a quick stop to escape the rain for my first ever froyo, with crushed peanuts and oreos. YUM.

Froyo

And saw this beautiful bookshop, with a reading area and huge shelves – so cute!

Bookshop Buenos Aires

Have you ever been to a speakeasy? How was your weekend?

 

{Reflections} ‘Buenos Airesisms’

Is it really Friday again already? What happened? You get catch up with my previous reflections posts here and here.

Over my time living in this beautiful city I’ve found that Buenos Aires truly is a place to live. I don’t think you can see it all as a tourist, it’s not like there’s a list of specific sights to tick off as you travel round. To me at least, Buenos Aires is a feeling. A feeling full of quirks, weirdness, slightly crazy and oh so wonderful… So, some of my favourite (and perhaps not so) ‘Buenos Airesisms’, if you may.

- Firstly, food (obviously). I love that merienda (essentially afternoon tea) is a full on thing here. Every café will have a merienda menu – to me it just kind of ‘acknowledges’ the need to eat between meals sometimes!

- Unless you go to a super touristy place it is hard to find a bad steak. It’s a big country = big space. Enough said.

- Which brings me to the smell of asados wafting through my window every weekend night…

- Wine. Cheap and bloody brilliant.

- Always awake and always alive. You can party till dawn any night of the week, yet when I leave my apartment early in the morning I’ll see people hard at work, washing down the streets ready for the day ahead. The energy here is infectious.

- You can get anything delivered. Remember my confusion over the trays of drinks being carried down the street way back in January? They were simply delivering coffee to offices, china and all. Any initiative to make money? It’s probably already been done here.

- Women get treated differently. Doors are often held open, women are always allowed on the bus first and will be offered a seat before anyone else. However, machismo is still super strong and cat calling is constant. This is something I will never fully get used to, to me this is never a compliment. Ever. It is degrading.

- People talk to one another. Sat on the tube in London? Avoid eye contact at all times. Sat on the bus in Buenos Aires? You might just make a new friend, or at least bitch about the traffic together.

- Less should, more want. Life isn’t rushed here. It is perfectly acceptable to sit with a coffee in a café for several hours. Although they work hard, porteños haven’t got caught up in the hectic lifestyle that so many of us have fallen into. Not yet anyway. Instead, they live for pleasure.

- Every day is new, one of the joys of being an expat.

- The passion of the people – fiestas, food, drink, fútbol, simply in life…

- At times the city can feel so huge and unknown…and then you go into a local café and they recognise you and bring you some water as soon as you sit down and you feel completely at home.

- Essentially, Buenos Aires is a city of contrasts. It can be so glamorous yet so run-down at the same time. A wealthy, designer-clad woman will walk past a homeless person sat on a street corner. A mad, backwards economy in a country that is so forward in so many ways. Modern skycrapers tower over beautiful colonial style buildings. A crazy football match will take place whilst just a few blocks away someone is tangoing the night away. It’s all so familiar yet completely different, completely magical.

- And my personal favourite… Sometimes you can just be wandering around, having a ‘normal’ day and then suddenly something will make you look up…and you’ll feel like the luckiest person alive.

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It is so hard to put the feeling of this incredible city into words, but I feel so lucky to have been able to live here and to call it my home.