I went looking for a waterfall and a brewery.
West of Mendoza, the Andes rise to the highest point on Earth outside the Himalayas. I took a bus west to see what Argentine mountain villages look like.
Also, the guidebook said there would be beer.
I wound up in the village of El Salto, which I think translates to “the waterfall.” A creek ran next to the road, passing over rocks and winding between houses. Certainly the water changed in elevation, though not nearly so dramatically as in Iguazu.
I love the sound of flowing water. Something about that noise it makes when it goes over rocks is soothing. And so I will make an effort to go any place where I can hear that sound.
But I’d hardly call what I found a waterfall. There is supposed to be a trailhead in the village–poorly marked and hard to find, yet distinctly the beginning of a four hour hike leading to what would be more commonly considered a waterfall.
The real selling point of the trip was, after hiking, drinking craft beer at a local microbrewery. The name of the place was Jerome, and it has a picturesque location on the mountainside. It’s technically located in Altos Manantiales, which is sort of the adjacent village to El Salto further up the mountain.
I wish I could tell you more, like how great the beer was or how well it went with the sausage they fed me. But I can’t, because I didn’t get to try any of those things. The brewery is only open to visitors on weekends.
Having spent three hours exploring the village and not finding a trail–I tried asking a local, to no avail–nor seeing anyone else who looked even remotely interested in hiking, I resigned myself to defeat. I also had another four hours to kill before my bus back to Mendoza left.
Disappointment happens. Even on a three-month adventure through South America. Especially in such situations, in fact.
This became an opportunity for me to practice my response. I think I made the most of it. El Salto is a very pretty village. The mountains provide some spectacular backdrops. I saw more horses than people.
In the valley below lies the village of Potrerillos, which is set on a reservoir on the Rio Mendoza. The dam controls the floodwaters to the wine-producing zone below. The water in the reservoir was the most beautiful shade of blue I’ve seen.
To my good fortune–as soon I’d resigned myself to an afternoon of quiet reflection–another bus arrived in El Salto. The driver explained that he could take me as far as Potrerillos, where I could catch another bus to Mendoza. And that my ticket was good, even though it was for a later bus.
I never did see that waterfall. But I did take a great nap. And then treated myself to ice cream after dinner.