Amaicha del Valle to Cafayate

Today I left Amaicha del Valle. But first I want to write a little about my stay in Amaicha, and the Hostel Pacha Cuty.

I arrived to Amaicha del Valle during the annual Fiesta de la Pachamama, which is a little like an indigenous form of carnival, obviously influenced by the catholic church. During the Fiesta de la Pachamama lots of people come to Amaicha del Valle, and so it is difficult to find accommodation. I sent a text message to the Pacha Cuty hostel a day before, and they replied that I should get there, and then we will see... I arrived on Saturday a bit after midday, and went directly to the hostel. They didn't have any bed, but space on the floor in a room or in the common space, and that suited me well. The Pacha Cuty hostel is a relaxed place, but the most important bit is that it feels more like a community space – a lot more than any other hostel I stayed in before. On Saturday there was a barbecue for everyone, but there was also a bit of a community feeling among the people staying there.

On Sunday I went to the central square of Amaicha del Valle for the presentation and celebration of the Pachamama. Pachamama is usually translated as Mother Earth, but a more literal translation would be "Mother world" (in Aymara and Quechua mama = mother / pacha = world or land; and later widened in a modern meaning as the cosmos or the universe).

They had elected an old woman as Pachamama of the year 2013, and she was presented during the celebration. She also gave a little speech about the importance of the tradition and the protection of the earth and of peace. After the presentation of the Pachamama and lots of speeches (too many for my liking) there was a bit of a parade of other indigenous groups and/or gauchos.

The idea of carnival in Argentina includes throwing a lot of foam and also paint at people, and that what they understand under enjoying themselves. But I don't know. I could avoid the paint during midday, but not when I went back in the afternoon. I didn't really like that!


At night there was a heavy thunderstorm, and the people who camped at the hostel also changed to the common space to sleep. I didn't leave that early on the next day – at 9:30am – to go to the ruins of Quilmes. To get there I first had to get down to the bottom of the valley, with impressive views of the mountains on the other side of the valley.

Because of the thunderstorms of the past two days, there was lots of water, and I had to cross some “rivers”. I normally did that walking the bike, as I couldn't see the ground, and also the current was quite strong.

The ruins of Quilmes are more or less 5km off the RN40, along a dirt track. I went up to the entrance of the ruins of the “sacred city”, as the indigenous people call them, and left my bicycle with the guides. The ruins are very impressive – ruins of a city of more than 4000 people, destroyed and conquered by the Spanish. But even more impressive are the views of the valley from the ruins.

I had a lemonade after my visit to the sacred city, and returned to the RN40, to get to Calalao del Valle. But when I arrived to Calalao, I decided to continue until Cafayate, a town with more infrastructure. The last 15km to Cafayate were hard, as the wind had changed, and no there was a strong wind from the front.

I arrived at Cafayate more or less at 3pm, and went to a hostel. I rested, had a beer and a shower, and now I am writing a little.