Homes away from home

On our travels it’s been rare to come across somewhere that feels like home. In Asia we’ve visited many wonderful places, like Karimabad, or Leh or Munsyari, say. But we’d not want to live there – we’d always be outsiders.

The Andes, for language and cultural reasons, are different, and we’ve had the good fortune to encounter a few places we’ve given thought to settling in.

Huaraz is one, and by far the most serious relocation contender. We think it has the most beautiful setting of any town we’ve ever seen. Imagine being able to just pop out from work and be in the Blanca, riding or trekking, within half an hour of leaving your front door.

La Paz is another – we could get used to the vibrancy of Bolivia’s administrative capital and the easy access to the Cordillera Real.

In Argentina we have Fiambala. Not much happens there, but that’s its main attraction. Here are a few shots of town.


Campo Base hostel in Fiambala. Run by Jonson Reynoso’s daughter Ruth, this is the place we, and most mountaineers hang out in in Fiambala.


‘Poopy’, the latest addition to the Reynoso’s brood of dogs. Each time we visit there’s a new batch of puppies.


Campo Base is on the road to the Fiambala hot springs – the biggest attraction in the area. Unusually for hyped thermals, they’re actually really good.


The street into the centre of town is generally traffic free…


…and like many things in Argentina, the road signs are ancient.


There are often more bikes than cars in Fiambala’s plaza…

A typical Argentinian banger

…but there are still plenty of new 4x4s around. Lots of old Argentinian bangers like this one, too.


Every now and then this old favourite of ours cruises through town.

Another common sight in this part of Argentina

Soon no doubt it’ll become one of Catamarca’s army of abandoned, rusting chasis. This one sits near the town centre, on a disused plot.


Kind of cool these old things.



Sunflowers abound at this time of year.


As do grapes. By late January they were ready to be picked.


This is the vineyard on the way to the internet cafe – 2 blocks from the main plaza.


By the time we left town in early February 2014 many of the shops had stopped bothering putting price tags on their goods – inflation is so rampant that prices were changing weekly.

Fiambala street scene

This place on the main street has the best empanadas in town. Inside it’s like something out of a 1950s middle-of-nowhere American diner.

Fiambala street scene

Like the cars, many of the bikes are older than their owners. Lovingly maintained, it’s possible to keep them in working condition, perfect for a gentle cruise through town.



This old building slowly crumbles in the hot Andean sun.

A once grand buildling in Fiambala

Here’s its once-grand tiled floor.

Felix, of Felix Tortillas fame, Fiambala

This is Felix, of Felix Tortillas fame. One of Fiambala’s friendliest residents, and biggest characters.


And this is the legend that is Don Jonson Reynoso. He’s the guy to go to if you’re heading to the mountains on the Puna.


Our last night in Fiambala we do as the locals do: hang out in the main square till the early hours, sipping cold beer…

4 thoughts on “Homes away from home

  1. Amaya

    Like you, we are always in search of a place to settle down and call home. It seems the more spots you experience, the harder it gets to settle. As you say, it’s hard to get past being an outsider in Asia. Language barriers are a main factor, but there are some pretty deep cultural divides, too.

    Since Argentina is a land of immigrants, so you can fit in more easily. Helps, too, that Spanish is a language most people can get a handle on pretty quickly (as opposed to, say, Thai).

    Lovely photos–really captures the atmosphere of the little town.

  2. Neil and Harriet

    Hi Amaya – you must’ve been to far too many countries now to decide on one to settle down in! I guess you’ll have to just keep on moving (at least till you’ve seen them all, anyway). Funnily enough I think the longer we travel, the more we’ve narrowed down where we like and might possibly settle in. Part of the reason we returned to the Andes for this trip…

  3. Cass

    I need more months in the year. The Puna is slipping form my grasp for this season… Damn.

    Move to Huaraz and I’ll bring you Marmite when I come visit.

    1. Neil and Harriet

      We knew you’d never fit the Puna in this year! The chances of you not being distracted by the ripio down south was pretty slim…
      Ok, we’ll buy a little flat outside Huaraz with an annex for you to live in each summer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *