Posted on November 15, 2011 by AudreyBergner
A big thanks to Audrey Bergner for contributing the following post as the November 15th Travel Instigator. Stay tuned for a feature post and Q and A from a new adventurous female traveler the 15th and 30th of every month.
Some days I crave excitement and adventure, others I’m content with driving down desolate roads, stopping off in sleepy towns, and simply enjoying the beauty of my surroundings. I left the busyness of Buenos Aires hoping to find the latter, and the northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy did not disappoint.
I began my journey in Salta by heading straight to the town square and plopping myself on one of the many sidewalk cafes. My stomach grumbled, begging for an authentic meal. I complied by ordering humitas, a steamed corn dough wrapped in a cornhusk, and empanadas, a pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables. Add a bottle of Quilmes beer to that, and I was ready to wander the town.
I strolled under the palm trees of the main square admiring the pastel colored buildings in its various shades of pale pink, ivory, and canary yellow. Then, as I ventured down one of the narrower streets, I spotted the terracotta and gold-trimmed Franciscan church and convent: Basílica de San Francisco. The colonial charm had me falling head over heals with Salta!
The next few days involved leaving the city and exploring some of the most spectacular and remote locations I’ve ever been to! It wasn’t easy pulling myself out of bed at 5 in the morning, but every valley, mountain, and rock formation along the way had me rubbing my eyes in astonishment. ‘Salta la linda’ really lived up to her name – the beautiful.
One of the highlights of my visit to the neighboring province of Jujuy was seeing El Cerro de los Siete Colores for the first time. The Hill of Seven Colors is located along the Quebrada de Purmamarca and looks like a painting! Have you ever encountered a mountain with various shades of burgundy, orange and mint green? I could hardly believe how vivid the colors were.
Located at the foot of this hill is the small town of Purmamarca, which is home to a lively market where you can find anything from ponchos and hand-woven tapestries, to ceramic pots and even home-cooked pastries. For someone who considers herself to be a city girl, this place was really starting to grow on me.
After a few short days in northern Argentina, I found my manner was beginning to change. No longer was I marching down the street at my usual city pace; I could feel the tranquility of the place slowing me down, and I even found myself strolling down the streets without a destination in mind.
So if you ever find yourself in Argentina, why not consider a quick trip to the country’s very north? The sweeping mountains, delicious home-cooked meals and colorful vistas may leave you feeling enchanted and refreshed!
Q and A with Audrey Bergner
1. Was there ever a specific moment in your life that had a profound impact on your love/need for travel?
I have loved traveling from a very young age, but arriving in Machu Picchu for the first time definitely did something for my wanderlust. There was so much beauty and serenity around me; it fueled my desire to explore.
2. You once bribed a cop in Mumbai. Spill the details. What did you want and how did you get it?
Nothing illegal, I assure you! I just wanted to go free. My flight had just landed really late at night and a friend of a friend had come to pick me up from the airport. We were driving in an area he was not familiar with, and he made a wrong turn down a one-way street and we got pulled over. To make matters worse he had forgotten his driver’s license. So we were given two options: have the police impound the car, or hand over 900 Rupees. Of course, it wouldn’t be India without a little haggling, so we got off the hook with 300 Rupees!
3. What was the scariest moment you’ve had as a young, solo-traveler?
Thankfully, I wasn’t solo during my scariest moment, because it probably would have left me in tears. I got into a rickshaw accident while I was travelling in India. It was late at night and our driver hit a pothole on the road. This literally sent the front wheel flying off! I am not exaggerating! There was screeching metal, sparks, and the rickshaw nearly flipped over on its side. And that was only one of three close calls involving rickshaws that night…
4. You’ve admitted to being a Bollywood junkie. Who is your favorite Bollywood star and why?
You know my secret! I just can’t resist their perfectly choreographed dance scenes! If I had to pick a favorite star it would be Shahrukh Khan. He goes by the name ‘King Khan’ – that’s enough to make him a star in my books!
5. What’s the best/worst souvenir you’ve ever purchased?
The worst souvenirs are usually clothes I could get away with wearing in the country I’m visiting, but that look absolutely ridiculous back home. I’m envisioning a particular knee length dress of wrinkled silk, olive green in color, with bell sleeves and far too much embroidery around the neck. I don’t know what I was thinking! Needless to say I never wore it.
6. You’re very at ease “getting by” in countries where you can’t speak the language. What’s the best advice you can give to those traveling to places with no local language skills?
I usually try to learn a few useful phrases before I get to the country, but if all else fails; charades and a smile go a long way!
7. You’ve visited many countries more than once. What destination always seems to be calling you back?
Brazil! The beach, samba music, caipirinha… Brazil has an incredible energy and certainly knows how to throw a great party! England is a close second because I have a lot of friends there and I usually use it as a jump-off point for other European countries.
8. What’s your favorite book to read on the road?
“The Alchemist”. If that doesn’t inspire wanderlust and a desire to go after your dreams, I don’t know what does. Anything Paulo Coelho writes leaves me contemplating life.
9. Describe a moment during travel when you made a connection with a perfect stranger.
I once met two ladies in their late 60s traveling together around Northern Argentina. They were best friends and had been traveling on an annual basis while their children and grandchildren worried at home. They were such an inspiring duo! I loved their adventurous spirit.
10. One tip for the reluctant traveler:
Book the trip now, worry about the details later.
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Get to know her:
Audrey is a twenty-something Canuck with a love for travel and all things foreign. A backpacker at heart, she loves to explore a country slowly and thoroughly with a few belongings strapped to her back, and a camera and journal close at hand.