The good thing about being in Cafayate (not to be confused with Calafate, which is south in the Argentinean lake district) is that there is good food, wine and an overall peaceful and relaxed environment. Two things I haven’t found recently. But perhaps more important is that bodegas (wineries) typically use specialized equipment in managing vineyards and making wine. The odds of finding someone with the equipment and skill to weld aluminum would be higher here than any other small town on the pampa.
A quick inquiry directed me to Ivan. That morning, following a twisted back-road maze not far from my hostel, I found the shop. But not Ivan. He’d taken off to a nearby pueblo. By the time I got around to going back, around 3:30 the doors were sealed shut. The streets were dead. In Cafayate Caliente people take siesta seriously. It’s so hot during the day it’s hard to do anything. I found a guy practically snoozing in front of his house. He suggested returning around 7 or 8pm.
So I did what everyone else must do in the afternoon: took a nap.
Committed to taking care of Doc’s Jesse bags, I put off visits to the local wineries until things were fixed. I entered Ivan’s shop from the dead-end cul-de-sac that was lined with a few other ancillary businesses. Through the iron door that was no pulled open I found a very clean, neat and orderly shop. Outside another large door was a courtyard and beyond, his home. There were four or five young boys pedaling small go-karts around the courtyard. Ivan obviously had welded and made this carts for his kids and their friends. I asked for an anvil and he pulled one out of the shop onto the street where the lighting made it easier to bang the Jesse bag and the horizontal hanging bracket back to shape. Ivan than ran off to buy a handful of welding rods.
On his return he was joined by another friend. Then another arrived. Soon me and my Jesse bags were surrounded by three eager locals. While they fired up the welding machine I was treated to a quick lesson on Argentineans in the United States. I was a bit embarrassed when I could only identify one of apparently five Argentinean NBA basketball players (San Antonio Spurs). Then they informed me that both Robert Duvall and Matt Damon are married to beautiful Argentinean women. I guess they get People Magazine down here, too. They even were well aware that First Lady Laura Bush was due to land in Buenos Aires next week.
Ivan and his friend Ricardo sealed the seam of my bag, then ground and filed it smooth and finally put a finishing touch of aluminum spray paint along the welded area. Practically new. Al Jesse would be proud!
Now I can get down to business and check out some bodegas.