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…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s its once-grand tiled floor.
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…