Salto

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.

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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.

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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.

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