The drive to Chilecito started out looking like Missouri, rolling hills and cows. Then it looked like Kauai, steep hills and cows. After that it shifted gradually toward Arizona, becoming less and less green with more scrub that became lower as we drove west, finally culminating with cactus and low scrub that looks like the Sonoran desert, complete with palo verde and saguaro (?) cactus.

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1/29 Details: We left Villa Maria at 9 am, arrived in Chilecito at 5:30 pm having driven 550 km. We figured out that gas costs $6.41/gallon. At first we ran into huge traffic in an area called Valle Hermosa where most of the population of Argentina seemed to be vacationing. Traffic was at a crawl for over an hour. It was like trying to drive through Lake George Village on the 4th of July weekend. Quite similar, too. A big lake, river, fishing, stores selling bait, fruit, treats, beach wear, you name it.

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We crawled to the north end of the valley.
After that there was no traffic all the way to Chilecito. After unloading and getting our room from Silvia, I went for a dip in the tiny but very nice pool. We birdwatched in the adjacent field, where we saw a meadowlark, and a red-brown bird that we still haven’t identified. Later we med Augustina, daughter of the owners, who checked us in.

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Our hotel, the Posada del Sendero, is easy to find because of the signs put up at the roundabout into Chilecito and at crucial turns in the road. Rooms cluster around a large living area with fireplace. Now that it is summer, however, there are tables and chairs outdoors around the pool and by the outdoor kitchen with large hearth and oven, covered area with picnic table and refrigerator for guests items. We stowed our wine, coke, mineral water, peanut butter, olives, butter…..At 8 pm we went into Chilecito for dinner, understanding that Argentines eat late. We found that the restaurant that was recommended to us was closed until 9 pm, so we went to the main plaza to Robert A. We ordered a bottle of wine and the waiter asked whether we’d like soda and ice (Jonathan laughed) but it turns out that’s how they drink it here. The wine isn’t very good, so soda and ice are just fine. We ended up not having dinner. After 45 minutes, nothing was in sight and we were ready to go home. Our waiter was a bit crestfallen. We stopped for ice cream, Jonathan had flavors with long names, but were mostly vanilla and I had Kion with whisky that turned out to be ice cream with candied kumquats.