Peace, Love, and Fernet
Posted by Autumn Standing
The sunlight softly feathers across my skin. Mmmm warmth. No, this is uncomfortable. I hazily drag my blanket further into the shade and continue to snooze.
I roll over, sweaty and sticky. Time to move again.
We followed the shade all the way up into the trees, 30 meters from the beach and slept in until ten. That’s a difficult thing to do when you are sleeping outside and the light starts to harass you at 5:30 in the morning. I managed though, considering the night that I’d had. Maxi, luckily, had slept through the entire episode of me crying, yelling, shivering, and sitting in burning embers to ease the freeze that had enveloped every inch of me. No fair.
After the man with the flashlight had gotten way too close to our camping spot for comfort, I stealthily army crawled back over to Maxi in hopes of waking him again. No such luck; but being diligently quiet and discreet effectively concealed us anyways. I spent the rest of the night dozing off only to wake up every fifteen or so trembling with cold again and repeatedly singing my clothes in the fire to stay warm. The sun was a very welcome guest in the morning, but only for a half hour or so before I felt suffocated with heat. Funny to think how I would’ve given anything to feel that way only four hours earlier, but I digress.
We rounded up our stuff at around noon. I bathed in the river for the first time since the hostel in Rosario—three days without a shower. I was hoping that would be the record for the trip. Hahahaha, yeah right. Maxi chided me for using shampoo and conditioner but my hair was so disgusting. 😦 I learned not to care eventually, but the first few weeks I had to learn to ease up on the hygiene.
The desert climate was in full blast by eleven thirty as we tried to obscure the remains of our campfire. Families were coming to the beach to lounge and spend the day away from the city on the weekend, so we needed to get a move on and figure out what we wanted to do. I had no desire to spend another night of misery freezing my ass off on the beach but we decided to talk about it over lunch.
As we were putting the finishing touches on the campfire cover-up, an official-looking guy came up to us asking if we’d spent the night there. Do I play the innocent, naïve yankee who doesn’t speak Spanish? Do I run? Running was pretty much out of the question since Maxi and I still hadn’t perfected our psychic communication and all speed would be lost with my multiple bags involved. Innocent, naïve yankee it was! He told us that it was illegal to camp on the beach but my wide baby eyes kept him from giving us a ticket. Instead he was actually very helpful. He told us about this beach that people usually camp on called “Playa de los Hippies.” Beach of the Hippies.
I peered down at my orange, pink, blue and white flowy bombachas (kind of like harem pants but with light fabric) and insane flip flop tan. Yep, sounded right up our alley. We gathered our things and went to the bridge to follow the man’s directions. I figured out who the mysterious flashlight man was. Apparently we weren’t the only vagrants on the beach that night. Two guys, around their late twenties, with dreads, guitars, and backpacks were pushing sand over what used to be a fireplace just meters from our crime scene of last night. It might have been cool to spend the night with them but too late. Hippie Beach here we come!
^^Our campsite at Hippie Beach 🙂
As we crossed the bridge and took the turn off for the road that we were told to follow to the trailhead for the beach, a woman in an orange vest stopped us. She was a kind of tourism coordinator and handing out maps and pamphlets to the people around. We got another warning about the illegality of camping by the side of the river here but she was also really nice. She gave us a pamphlet and told us to be careful…there were scorpions around here. While beginning our walk I skimmed the pamphlet. There were two types in these parts; one that was super poisonous and would kill you within a few hours, and one that was capable of ruining your next couple of days depending on where it stung you. Both were characterized by a red bumpy, itchy rash, potentially followed by swelling, dizziness, vomiting, and of course, death. I suddenly became hyperaware of the itchiness of my skin and looked at my arms only to begin to panic in earnest. Red bumps seemed to be popping up all over my arms. I looked at my shoulders, my chest, my legs…down my pants. Yep, there too.
^^Hard to see…but they’re there 😦
Oh my God. I was going to die, I was sure of it (clearly, I didn’t.) Max said it was probably just irritation from the sand. They didn’t itch that badly anyways…so I agreed to hold tight. I am a hypochondriac after all…and I slept on the ground in the sand with a crappy airplane blanket the night before. I put the scorpion pamphlet away and tried to focus on how miserable the heat was to walk in with my heavy pack. Distracting enough.
The beach was about two and a half hour’s walk from the river…uphill. Luckily we got some girls to give us a lift most of the way to the top of the hill where the road ended and the trek began. We bought some fruit and water for the way and hiked in. So much for my rinse in the river that morning—by the time we could see what was probably Hippie Beach we were both drenched and smelly. I tried to keep the whining down to a minimum but really, there’s only so much I can restrain myself. I was definitely ready to take the first campsite available when we got down to the river again…but Maxi was more in the mood to explore for the perfect place I guess.
^^Me NOT whining
There were old campers, young campers, families out for the weekend, and even semi-permanent residents (some people seemed to just live their summers there…) It really was incredibly similar to Fort Collins’ landscape by the Poudre but with an even more relaxed vibe. After Maxi and I finally spread the tarp out in our “perfect” camping spot we did the only logical thing—strip. And get into our swim suits of course 😛 While I was relieved to be out of normal clothing I was positively alarmed by the amount of ‘bug bites’ I had. I knew they weren’t bug bites. It was some sort of rash. Most likely caused by lethal scorpions. Big red welts all over my legs and stomach and arms and everywhere—EVERYWHERE—decorated my skin. They itched too, but not as badly as mosquito bites. I showed Max again and he repeated I should probably hold off on worrying for at least a couple of days. There was nothing we could do anyways except let the cool river water heal me. I promised myself to stay hypersensitive to any waves of nausea.
Splash. Total relief. Harsh heat and frigid cold seemed to be the weather’s only two settings here in Cordoba, but cool water, alcohol, friends, and camp fires helped make it bearable. After a short swim I went and washed my clothes in the river while Maxi napped and explored. It wasn’t too crowded really and it was amazing to be out of the city, away from roads in the peace and quiet. We relaxed and ate our fruit. Just thinking about our day makes me close my eyes and yearn for that kind of carefree relaxation right now. Such bliss.
As the hours flew by, I decided to gather as much dry firewood as possible. I would keep the fire going as long as possible tonight to avoid a repeat of the anterior. Mala suerte. There didn’t seem to be dry wood ANYWHERE. I did find a small dead tree like half a mile away that I drug back to our tarp, but it turned out to be surprisingly little firewood. Instead, Max and I cooked dinner and decided we’d just go join someone else’s campfire with a peace offering of fernet. Hippies are all about peace, love and sharing right?
Yup! We ate our dinner in the dark on our tarp. There were loud questionable moans coming from down the hill so we didn’t dare venture away for fear of who’s free love we’d walk in on. Instead we laid low for the next twenty minutes or so… Awkward. But at least we were able to laugh about it. When I finished my last bite, I layered up and followed the light of campfire down the hill. We met Franco, Nacho, and Diego who were all university students from Cordoba capital; we played the guitar and drank fernet and crappy wine and laughed and talked while enjoying the fire. Halfway through the night some drunk old men who made a habit of camping on the beach and mooching off the tourists’ liquor and smokes joined us and it was officially a hippy fest. I’m pretty sure I remained the only girl all night, but I officially let my hippy side take over.
It grew colder and colder. Not even the fernet could keep me warm by the time sleep got a hold of me and the boys offered us their extra tent. I brought my airplane blanket in with me, even though I didn’t quite trust it anymore as my rash was growing worse, and crashed. I couldn’t sleep past nine AM as the sun conquered the night’s freeze and determined to prove its superiority by cooking us. Note to self: Take vengeance on the sun for never being there when I want it to.
Maxi and I had decided to spend half the next day in Playa de los Hippie before hiking out and hitching back to Carlos Paz and onward. We wanted to make it to La Rioja, a little tourist city in the mountains, for New Year’s. After we ate some bread and washed any last dregs of hangover off in the river we decided to explore the river and found the dique. We were able to bring Maxi’s camera with us through the water in my Otter Box that I got free at CSU! Below are some of the cool fotos.
About Autumn StandingI love words; my name is made up of real words, even. I am studying Global Tourism and Spanish with a minor in Business Administration at Colorado State University but this year I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's why this blog was born--to keep my beautiful family and friends informed of my whereabouts, thoughts, accomplishments, and mistakes.
Posted on April 4, 2013, in Argentina Part I, Summer Hitchhiking Adventure!, Travel and Study and tagged Argentina, Camping, Carlos Paz, Cordoba, Cuesta Blanca, fernet, hippies, Hippy Beach, Hitchhiking, i want a puppy, Playa de los Hippie, scorpions are terrifying, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.