Strawberries with cream

After my visit to the Talampaya, I wanted to go directly to my next destination: Tafí del Valle. After wating for the bus for about one hour and half under a tree, a four hour ride to San Juan and a six hour ride to Tucumán, it was half past midnight and I was exhausted. It was three more hours to get to Tafí del Valle but there was no bus before 6.30. I had no hotel reservation but I figured it couldn’t be that difficult to find a room in a town such as Tucumán.

I asked the bus driver where the nearest hotel was and he indicated one just accros the terminal, which was correct, not too expensive… and fully booked. So was the next one. In the meantime, I had been able to observe that the neighbourhood didn’t look very good. A Belgian song came to my mind.

“Dans toutes les villes du monde           “In every city around the world
Le quartier le plus immonde                      The crappiest neighbourhood
C’est toujours celui de la gare                   Is always the area of the station
Où l’on n’ose pas sortir le soir”                Where no one dares to go out
at night”

Yep. That’s where I was. At 1.00 am and alone. I found a third hotel. Which was surely very cheap. But was also a good reflector of what the neighbourhood looked like. Not very engaging. But nor did I feel like wandering around until 3.00 in the morning to find something decent. At least, the guy who attended me was friendly and welcoming. He wondered what I was doing there on my own that late at night. I didn’t want to tell him but, in a way, so was I.

It was around 1.30 when I fell asleep. And around 6.30 when I woke up. Not exactly the kind of place where you want to have a lie in. Or to take your time for a long, hot shower. I would take one upon arrival at my destination.

The ride to Tafí del Valle was really nice. I could see the landscape change from woods, which made me think of the jungle, with small rivers running through it, to a less dense vegetation. Covered with a very thin layer of white. I’m not a big climatologist but I do know one thing: when the landscape looks white, the temperature usually turns around zero degrees celsius. July 20th. I mean, I know my head was upside down compared to what I’m used to and so were the seasons. But the weather had been so nice in Mendoza and I just couldn’t get used to it.

Bus ride to Tafí del Valle.
Bus ride to Tafí del Valle.

My hotel was rather empty. And only heated in one place. Which was neither my bedroom nor the bathroom. Getting undressed to take a shower was a bit of a torture. Taking it in Tucumán wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all. In any case, it freshened up my mind as only then did I realise I was missing something. A little red purse. And in that little red purse, my vaccination card. And euros. And dollars.

I emptied my two backpacks. Twice. It was nowhere to be found. So I contacted all the places I had been to since I last remembered I had it in my hands. Happens I forgot it in Mendoza, where it had been seen by the owner of the hotel a few days before, who thought it belonged to the people who occupied the room right after me. Maybe it was them. Maybe it was the travelers who came after them. In any case, the little red purse never reappeared. And I was the only one to blame for it.

I decided the best way to handle this situation was using philosophy. And eating strawberries with cream.

After all those hours spent in public transport, I could also use some (very) fresh air. The white layer from the morning had disappeared and I decided the temperature was nice enough for a walk.

The view included snow topped mountains, a small river, and, at the end of that river, a lake, which seemed only one or two kilometers away. And horses walking around freely the entire length of the path. There sure was something magical about the place. After an hour and a half of walking, I sort of came to the conclusion that the lake was bewitched. Each time I thought I was getting close, it seemed to escape away from me. And I did want to get back to town before sunset. So I turned around without reaching it. But happy with the afternoon exercise all the same. I had even managed not to think about my loss for a while. Oh, damn it!

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