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Where's Jonny? Care to dine with me? You would think that 11 years of daily food tasting for a living might put me off?......au contraire! Chomp away with me across 6 continents. Seduced like a bloodhound to the scent of good food, I anticipate the misty waft of steaming broths, the satisfying crunch of mudbugs and the vibrant aroma of freshly pulverised lemongrass. Buon appetito

Journey to the moon

ARGENTINA | Saturday, 8 September 2007 | Views [1145]

The stunningly barren Valle de la luna

The stunningly barren Valle de la luna

Blasting off from the ¨vinefamous¨ Mendoza, we followed the mountain range east towards the desert.  Canine corpses formed a regular sight along the dusty roadside as we rocketed over the bumpy surface in our lunar explorer (actually it was a 1.4 litre Corsa from Hertz)

Hours melted away like liquid tarmac in the distance.  No cars.  Nothing.

Small herds of goats in the tundra appeared every now and again along with lone gauchos on horseback. 

Outside was becoming increasingly barren.  ¨How could anyone work in these conditions?¨ I asked Maria as she glanced upon the arid landscape.

More road, endlessly long, endlessly straight, until we reached the beginnings of a sleepy town.

This was Valle Fertil and the only town for hundreds of miles.  We were there for a late lunch (which was no problem as the locals eat at around 3pm)

We ate tostados (safest bet) whilst a young girl who should have been at school mopped the floor with paraffin.  My nasal hairs twitched under the heady stench.

Back on the road and it had become a shortbread textured mix of crumbly concrete and small pebbles.  Apart from the guiding mountains on our left, the terrain had become wide open, flat and sandy.

Our mission was to land at Valle de la luna which lay some hours north.  We were repeatedly propelled skyward during the last leg of the journey.  Like a rollercoaster ride, our bodies were subjected to fierce gravitational forces by giggle-inducing undulations in the road.

Suddenly we dropped.  Then unexpectedly we rose.  Down again.  Then up.  Up, down, up, down, up, down. whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

An excited childs face, Maria squealed for more speed.

Already acknowledging we would have difficulties driving back, we continued forwards.

There were only two other cars at the barrier to the national park.  As the barrier lifted I tagged behind the small convoy into the valley below.

This was an environment more suited to a 4x4 (or tractor!) as our car rattled and spluttered over unpredicatably rocky tracks.   Vast orange dustclouds burst behind the car as we took the bendy road up and over a hill.

The land was parched for miles ahead and as we reached the top of the grey, sooty, hill an immense vista opened out before us.

There was an incredible primordial land of shape and colours.  Extinct water channels and the exfoliation of time had revealed the very beginnings of life to our widening eyes.

We had never seen anything like this since Iguacu falls.

Journeying across the bottom we saw smooth hills of many coloured layers, like stationary trifles.  Remarkable mushroom-like rocks poked through the grey dust in one area whilst other rocks were so round they might have been neolithic boules.

Huge cacti like the ones you see in western films and twiggy shrubs grow here but not much else.  We were surprised then, to see any signs of life on this planet.

So when a furry animal just larger than a domestic cat darted from the shrubbery we dashed for our cameras.  As it stopped momentarily to sniff the air, we caught full view of a beautiful desert fox.

Our twisty, turny 3 hours drive through the valle de la luna culminated in an upfront view of the majestic red mountains whose skyscraper-sized, craggy, sides had been chiselled by nature.

A place of dinosaur discovery and natural wonder.  A curiously little-visted place of preservation and natural construction.  We wanted to stay longer but it was getting dark and Marias water had run out.

Two astronaughts returned to the park barrier caked in moon dust.  The mission had been accomplished although we were not yet home. 

Maria was complaining of feeling dizzy and as I looked around for my water I realised there were only drops left.

The nearest town was 6 hours drive and it was getting really dark and surprisingly cold.

¨Houston, we have a problem¨ kept ringing in my ears.

As the last light faded I was looking at the petrol gauge and hoping we would get back ok.

To be continued in, ¨Return from the moon¨


Tags: Adventures

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