Sitting in the central Sierras of Argentina’s Cordoba province, Villa General Belgrano sits high in the Calamuchita Valley. It’s perhaps most famous for the largest beer festival in Argentina when thousands descend on the small village in October for the Fiesta Nacional de la Cerveza, though most refer to it simply as Oktoberfest. Not only does the festival sport a german tinge to it, but Villa General Belgrano was first settled by unrepatriated German soldiers after their battleship, the Graf Spee, sank off the coast of Uruguay near Montevideo.
It’s the perfect location to use as a base to explore the surrounding towns and enjoy a network of dirt roads that roll and twist around the Sierras. We decided to head to a small village where only pedestrian traffic is permitted. After nearly a couple hours of riding over dirt we parked our bikes in the public parking area outside La Cubrecita. There is no pavement nor vehicular traffic through this village seemingly stuck in another time. There are a number of hikes to waterfalls, swimming holes and forested glens and wide open meadows.
We grabbed a german-styled meal, a couple beers and hiked to a chilling pool of water where even slowly dousing our feet and toes sent frozen chills through the body. Having spent quite a few days with Daniel and Juan, again I feel Argentina is like a home away from home. I begin to realize that while I know I’m living a dream with this lengthy journey through South America, but I can’t help but feeling that perhaps other countries or places where my only experience was a night in a hotel, a restaurant and a quick spin through town, I wonder what I missed by not spending more time along the way. But looking backwards, frankly, is of little use and as I look forward to exploring the eastern coast of South America I have a newfound respect for a slower pace of travel — wherever possible.
But as all people, places and things along this journey must, our time passed and by Monday, a holiday in Argentina marking the day that Argentina invaded the British-ruled Falkland Islands, we need to head to our respective next destinations. For Daniel and Juan they needed to get back to their families and friends in Bolivar. For me, I will return to Buenos Aires and begin to plan the next leg of my journey along coasts of Uruguay, Brazil and the Iguazu Falls and Paraguay.
But for those of you interested and while it’s Falklands Day, I’m going to divert to a little history story.
On April 2, 1982 Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic which had been been a cause of friction between the two countries since Britain claimed them in 1833.
The war that ensued resulted in loss of lives of 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen, most died during attacks on warships.
The conflict ended on June 14th when the Argentina surrendered to British troops at Port Stanley.
Ironically enough, England’s victory boosted the popularity of Margaret Thatcher’s government which went on to win the next election, while Argentina’s commander, General Galtieri was deposed and served three years in prison for military incompetence. Years later, in July 2002, Galtieri was arrested on charges related to the abduction, torture and death of opponents of his military regime in 1980. Galtieri died in January 2003 before ever coming to trial.
Finally, in October 1983 Argentina returned to civilian rule but it was 1990 before full diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom were restored However, Argentina still maintains its claim to the Falklands.
Daniel, Juan and I together rode the twisty stretch of pavement back to the main highway and under a bright full moon visible in daylight, we parted ways in Rio Cuarto with the promise of connecting and riding together again in the near future. Hey, maybe I’ll see him once more in Buenos Aires before crossing the river to Uruguay. Stranger things have happened.
Later that day:
I almost had to double back and make sure I wasn’t in some time warp. But this is the second cart pushing South American on a mission from god. Can anyone explain why these guys pack up their worldly possessions and walk across this vast continent? This guy had two dogs to keep him company. Remember this guy from a couple months back?