Déjà vu in Tucuman

It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since the first time I travelled in South America- almost 9 years ago exactly since I arrived in Tucuman for the first time, planning to stay a couple of days to visit a friend and ending up staying a couple of months working in Hostel Argentina Norte. The hostel no longer exists in that name but there is a lot that hasn’t changed about the city.

My friends Santiago & Tim are still here (dutchman Tim has just celebrated his 9 year anniversary of arriving in Tucuman!) and the empanadas are still the tastiest in the country. Argentina Norte beer is still cheap and plentiful & the siesta still reigns supreme. Unfortunately this time around we have to pay for a bed, but at least we don’t have to head to the bus terminal every day to try and poach backpackers!!

Yesterday we climbed up through the dense jungle of Las Yungas to the peak of Cerro San Javier, crossing old rail bridges high above the forest floor and scrambling up slippery rocky slopes to reach the top. From the statue of Christ (who is inexplicably posed giving the peace sign) you can see down to the plains below, the city grid and the patchwork fields of sugarcane and citrus orchards.
All along the foothills of the mountain range are sugarcane fields and old processing plants now fallen into disrepair. Tim took us to San Pablo to explore one of the more picturesque old factories, slowly being converted into a university campus. The oldest buildings date back to 1916 and the whole site was abandoned in the 60’s with the collapse of the sugarcane industry.

Sunday night we headed across town for some tango music at a milonga- being the unco gringos that we are we planted ourselves firmly in the wallflower section, avoiding eye contact with all the tangueros seated around the room. No amount of beer can convince me that I’m capable of even approximating tango steps..

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