Travesía Panamericana
Week 18

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Quilmes Archaeological Site

August 5, 2002
Cafayate, Salta (Argentina)
Odometer: 209,373
Written by: Cris
We left the peaceful city of Cafayate and drove to the nearby ruins of the Quilmes people. The drive was very pleasant; we saw a lot of the vineyards for which this region is famous; always surrounded by long lines of alamos to protect the vines from the wind.We also saw the typical adobe houses, with their front galleries, ceramic containers (tinajas), and spanish terracota roof tiles. The characteristic superb weather of the area was also present,  of course. Once in the ruins, we visited the museum and the recently completed hotel, which was built in a way that minimizes the impact on the land. This was acheived by using vernacular techniques and materials, as well as good design that takes advantage of the vistas and abundant luminosity in the area. The ruins per se, although not as striking as some of the others that we have visited along our journey, gave us a good idea of how was life around here before the white man showed up. Each time I visit the site, I can't help feeling a bit of sadness for the way that these people were taken out of their land and forced to migrate to distant Buenos Aires. Many of them died during the migration, and many others once in their new home, victims of exhaustion and white man's diseases.


Barbara at the Hotel in Quilmes (notice the ceramic containers, typical of the region)

A bit before noon we continued our journey south, leaving my father Jorge in the site, who was going to meet with other people to further explore the area. We crossed the mountains towards the city of Tafi del Valle, in the province of Tucuman. These would be the last mountains that we would see for a long time, since form that point on we would be driving through the huge flat area that forms the eastern part of the Argentina.


August 6, 2002
Rio Hondo, Santiago del Estero (Argentina)
Odometer: 209,560
Written by: Cris
We left Rio Hondo in the morning, after another breakfast a la Argentine (which, despite quite basic, are a real treat due to the quality of it's ingredients). We continued southeast towards Buenos Aires, through highway #34. Today's drive was a bit monotonous, it was strange for us not to see any mountains, after so many months of driving through them constantly. Guapo has not developed any problems during these last days of much driving. We made it the city of Rafaela that night. Being so close to Buenos Aires made us feel very anxious. If everything goes as planned, tomorrow will be our final day...
August 7, 2002
Rafaela, Santa Fe (Argentina)
Odometer: 209,911
Written by: Cris
The intense fog delayed our departure until mid morning. There had been some pretty bad accidents earlier. Today we drove the last leg of our journey, the last 3-4 hours of which were all freeway, something that we had very rarely seen throughout Latin America.
Once in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, we were greeted by a "welcome committee" of one of the local VW clubs, the Argentina Volkswagen Club (AVC). Despite the cold weather and the fact that today was a work day, a group of  AVC members and their Volkswagens decided to welcome us in a gas station. We all struggled to communicate all our impressions, questions, etc. during the brief time that we met; and agreed to meet later on in our stay in Buenos Aires. My thanks to the AVC for their welcoming gesture, the first emotional moment of many others that would happen that night...