Warning: Many details have been forgotten

My first trip had the beauty of the ignorance. I went to the North of my country and crossed the frontier that divide us with Bolivia. Moving from city to city I entered in Peru and then visited the Machu Picchu. All this in a month. A flash trip that I could have easily extended longer, but I was too excited to come back and tell my stories to my friends.


Rodrigo Sabato with bag pack North direction

Sorry about the quality of the pic but it is what it is.

It all started in a bar like most of my stories. A place most interesting on Thursday nights than any other night. A sort of hippie bar, with jugglers, clowns, junkies, dealers and a few cats always walking around. Sadly, after my first come back from Europe this bar was closed already. Anyway, a cool place.

During the spring – late September, October, November and half December in Argentina – the bar was in its apex. Crowded every Thursday and with a lot of movement. People coming, leaving, shows, beer, kitties and a strange feeling that something better was coming, at least for me. I was only 21/22 yo but the range of ages in the place were diverse.

Closer to December the feeling started to take shape. I could see it. This bar was the core of a hippie travel society. Apparently the direction was North. Where the cheap weed grows and many other powerful plants that will blow up the arising cosmos of your mind. I had to go. But I needed to collect some information. I couldn’t just blindness walk North.

“Preguntando se llega a Roma” This is a wonderful Spanish quote that you can translate in English in something like this “Asking, you get to Rome”

I used to go alone to the bar and meet people there. I was a single young man and I always understood that being alone gives you the chance of taking different directions that you wouldn’t if you are in company.

One night, I talked with the right girl and she explained the most common way to reach the far away North. She was going too, but I didn’t want to go with her – sorry if you are reading this now – not because I didn’t like her but as I said before, I wanted to be ready to take any direction that my luck offered me.

First at all I needed a bus ticket to La Quiaca. From there you can cross the border and reach Villazón, which is one of the 3 Bolivian cities that limit with Argentina. Because it was my first solo trip I did things as I should. I got my ticket from an official bus company in Retiro (There are many unofficial companies that takes you to the North for less money) and left Buenos Aires the first day of the year 2012.

28 hours later…

Taking a bus is the cheapest way to get to Bolivia but it’s an insanely long ride. Especially at the beginning when the landscapes are boring as fuck. What is call the Pampas region in Argentina is just flat. Hundreds of kilometres where you just see grass, a few trees and cows. Until you get to Cordoba where you can see some mountains. And you end your road trip in Jujuy at 3400 meter high.

Anyway I arrived to the border. And right there I realised that I didn’t know where the fuck to go after. I was already so used to be in that damn bus that I didn’t want to get down. But a guy appear in the front of the bus and shouted; “Llegamos a La Quiaca, ultima parada” – “We arrived to La Quiaca, last stop” – I had no chance of staying in the bus so I went down.

In contrast with another city I have been in Argentina this place was like a desert, there was dust flying everywhere and everything was brown. Instantly I understood why the Northern folk costumes are so colourful. They need that. I needed my bag pack so I went to the side of the bus and I waited for it. I looked around and I saw 2 girls waiting as well with nervous faces. They were probably lost like me. We talked and we were going to the same direction so we joined forces, at least momentarily till find the border crossing.

Bolivia with people

Across the border in Bolivia

After I came back from the toilet for a strategic parade. There were 2 guys more in our party. So we all walked together. And later in the queue to cross the border we met a Brazilian guy who was traveling alone so he joined us.

Crossing the frontier was very simple. It is a ridiculous place indeed. There are people coming and leaving freely. Not even a damn control for the things that people is getting into the country or taking out. In the other hand, Buenos Aires is a nightmare when you want to receive an international parcel. It feels like the North of Argentina is a different country where nobody gives a shit.

To continue reading this story go to “The First Adventure; North to Bolivia and Peru #2”



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