07.02.2012 - 09.02.2012 89 °F
How do I put this into words without sounding new-age.
Whenever I arrive to a place, it either accepts me or not.
I feel it immediately and it happens much too often, and too clear, to be a coincidence.
It´s as if the land likes me and permits me to enjoy it to the fullest or it just rejects me and it all goes haywire wrong.
Maybe land is not all that different when we walk into a room and immediately either like or dislike a stranger. I don´t know, but this is how it´s been.
After leaving Mendoza, I arrived to Santa Rosa de la Calamuchita, a place 2.5 hours from Cordoba and a mere 15 hour bus ride from Mendoza, where my guidebook promissed plentiful overnight hiking opportunities in a serene mountainous environment that sounded glorious.
I arrived to Santa Rosa and I knew it didn´t like me.
On my way there from Cordoba terminal, I got robbed by an old man on a small urban bus off my trusted music shuffle (containing gifts from Zhenya, Sanjay, Elina, Julian, Nico and Flako), classic scam of playing on my good manners when I got up to give up my seat to an equally old woman, I was sent off on a humid and very hot day for 3.5 hours in search of accomodations, shameless being hit on by a hotel receptionist with octopus hands, as I was walking around I realized that in Spanish, Viernes is Friday, not Thursday, the day I should have bought my ticket for Buenos Aires (I had bought it back in Cordoba 2.5 hours from where I was now), and as I was unpacking my backpack, a zipper broke.
Oh, and that´s not all. I had come to Santa Rosa to hike, only to be told that yes, there are lovely refugios, and yes, quite lovely hikes, but that there is not a single guide leaving until the weekend (the day after I leave) and that the rivers are strong to be crossed by someone who doesn´t know the way. Remembering the icy cold river crossings in Patagonia, I gave up.
I had some really crappy pizza, washed by dress that never dried up because of humidity and the next morning got the hell out.
I decided to go to another village, La Cumbrecita, 2 hours away. And I knew it liked me.
As I was trying to get to the bus station in Santa Rosa, there was a downpour (how else) and not a single taxi was available to come until after the scheduled time of my bus (if this didn´t happen to me, I think this is a badly written slapstick comedy), but I thought of Cumbrecita, and miraculously a taxi pulled up, I haled the driver, and off we were.
As I got to Cumbrecita, the hostel (only a 10 min walk) had no one else in my 3 person room. While it was forecasted to rain and the tourist office strongly recommended against any hiking, I got lost a bit and somehow found myself on a hike, the hike that I wanted to take. There was a trail, unmarked but I knew I´d know the way. As I was walking, I discovered fields and fields of mora, blackberries, mmm, and I as got to the top, without any other sole in sight, it was gorgeous, vistas of alpine valleys sunk under heavy gorgeous clouds, it was heaven.
I returned and in a shop buying empanadas found a guy that not only spoke English (I was the only foreigner in this very touristic and pedestrian-only village that somehow escaped the backpackers´ trail), but oh yes, he also spoke Russian as his grandparents here from Yugoslavia.
He hooked up me with a guide, and next day (after dining on a perfect watermelon), off I was, climbing.
The only thing is, they forgot, or I didn´t understand, that the hike involved descending into subterranean rivers, i.e. caves filled with cool stones to climb over with waist high rivers.
Well, I got wet.
But who cares.
As we returned with only 30 minutes to get to my bus, that turned out to be sold out, but with, ¨oh, you are from Russia¨ squeezing me and my big pack in, it was all swell and good.
Cumbrecita liked me.