Tranquilo in Catamarca

Catamarca, Argentina. Whenever I tell people where I am living, the general response is either, "Why?" or "Oh like Buenos Aires?".

 

No. Not like BA. Catamarca is in the north of Argentina, with a climate like Arizona. The city is small with 140k inhabitants and everything shuts down at siesta time, from 1pm-5pm. All cafes, grocery stores, bread shops, EVERYTHING. The heat is quite pleasant for most of the year until the summer (Dec-Feb) hits and then average temps are 34°C (93°F), which explains why siesta is almost a sacrament for Catamarqueños!

And the "Why?" Oh... LOVE. That's what brought me here. After 4 months of travel and long distance dating, I came here to be with my boyfriend. Holy mole... Life here has taken some adjustment for me! Learning another language is not a task for the faint-hearted, and via immersion is extra interesting, I have met 1 boy on exchange from Thailand, and now after 8 months of being here I met a fellow girl from the USA who leaves in 2 weeks. 

My boyfriend and I even posted our home (the one he so brilliantly designed! It's absolutely gorgeous, come visit!) on Airbnb in order to meet some more extranjeros on their way through, and it has been great. We have hosted people from The Netherlands, Germany, Chile, USA, and Argentina and it has helped to shake things up in the house!

From the tourist guide books, there is not much written about Catamarca, so unfortunately the city is often overlooked by tourists, but there are quite a few hidden gems I would like to share, so here is the list! Hopefully it helps convince you to experience this province!

FOOD IN CATAMARCA

VEGAN Lunch Option – Pachamama – Bº 50vv norte c/5 2º etapa
Have your lunch made to order at this family-run, vegan home, many veggies grown in their own garden!

Tapas – La Cueva Del Santo – Republica 1150
Spanish tapas restaurant, trendy vibe.

Fancy – La Guada – Ayacucho 769
Different specials each night: sushi, asado, pasta and more. Eat in the back on the picnic tables under the stars.

Cafe – Florentino – Esquiu 811
Great trendy café, wifi, tasty pastries & salads. Owned by a wonderful woman from Buenos Aires (she speaks English!). 

Local Pub – Oveja Negra Rock Bar – Nunez del Prado 898
Best lomitos in town (a vegetarian option that is so-so) loud music, good beer.

Cerveceria – Wakani – Calle Echeveria 1
Great craft beer selection, made in-house, try the plantain chips.

Pizza – Napoles – Av. Gdor. Francisco Galindez 599
Delicious brick oven pizza. Trendy vibe and strip of restaurants.

Local Vibe – La Guarda – Rivadavia 430
Empanadas, locro, wines, all things local. The front room is a complete wine shop, the back is a chill restaurant.

Tea House – Sabores Caseros – La Carrera
Off the beaten trail, cute tea house with amazing pastas and pastries.

Club/Bar – Jagger – Av. Pres. Arturo Illia
Late night club, all hour’s bar with great draft beers. OK snacks and food.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN CATAMARCA

Waterfall Hike
30 minutes from the city, a 5 hour round trip (medium intensity) hike into some amazing waterfalls.

El Portezuelo
A 45 minute drive into the clouds! Stop for a tea at the Casa de Te at the top!

El Rodeo
Take a drive into the countryside, just 50km from town! Don't miss the short hike to La Virgen.

Trekking Catamarca Tours
See what this group is up to when you are visiting!

YOGA IN CATAMARCA

Acro Yoga - Suasti Bienestar y Movimento Esquiú 969
Acro Yoga on Tuesday and Friday! Suggested donation, 50-100 pesos per class  

Classic Yoga - Casa Abierto 
Class schedule varies, 100 pesos per class! 

CULTURE IN CATAMARCA

Free walking tours – Free Tours Catamarca
Walk Catamarca, tour in Spanish. Right in El Centro in the main square.

Museo de la Virgen del valle – Republica 449
New museum in El Centro.

Museo Arqueologico Adan Quiroga – Sarmiento 450
Museum in El Centro, featuring a branch of the Incas, the Diaguitas.

Travel Log Day 348: Nomad Update

coffeeshop-albania-juice-travel-blog

Last Thursday I stayed in bed all day and watched The Blacklist on Netflix. I ate vegan, had 3 cups of tea and did about 25 billable minutes of work (14 minutes of which were a phone call). I booked a flight to Morocco and researched Cape Town. I meditated for 14 minutes and made plans to do yoga, pushups, social media work, blogging and head to the beach - none of the latter was accomplished. 

Marketing schemes that romanticize the digital nomad life are everywhere nowadays. I have to admit, the experience is unreal. It's the sort of solo experience everyone owes themselves for at least 1 month:

  • Research a country
  • Book a ticket
  • Book a non-luxury place to stay for the first few nights
  • Figure it out as you go

But there are some downsides that are often brushed aside and more and more nomads have been blogging about these. Not until you actually experience them does the sting settle in. A year ago I read these lists and brushed them aside, "Pfft I can handle that, I'm the greatest." Well I can say for a fact now that these are all components that I take into account when deciding how long I plan to pursue this lifestyle. Accordingly, here is MY list of downsides - however, I end each on a positive note, because perspective is everything. 

Digital Nomad • Loneliness

As an introvert I avoid over-committing myself socially, and can't do more than a week in hostel dorm rooms. When I do make a friend, we usually have a weekend to get to know one another and then one of us is moving on. Twice now I've used Tinder as a means for meeting people, but there is an implied layer of sex when you meet someone on there - also, it limits the connections to the opposite sex (I don't misrepresent myself as a lesbian). POSITIVE: Being outside of my comfort zone forces me to change for the best. I can't use my introversion as a crutch to stay in a few stale friendships, but instead I am opened up to new and more rewarding connections - should I choose to embrace the challenge. 

Nomad • Drinking

The communal language of bonding is drinking here on planet earth. I've cut down on that (1-2 drinks one day each week) to such a degree that going to a bar to "see what happens" just isn't a thing for me anymore. Believe me, some rich and exotic tales have spun from those nights, but as a solo chick in the Balkans I think it might attract the wrong attention. POSITIVE: I'm drinking less and finding more interesting things to be the basis of new relations - animal rights, minimalism, veganism, travel... Conversations about your new handbag? BYE.

Nik + me hiking in Kotor

Nik + me hiking in Kotor

Nomading • The Whole Enchilada

Opportunities like Remote Year combat loneliness by pairing a group for a month in each location around the globe. Resulting experiences are often very positive, but you're buying in for $2000 per month or more (not including food, alcohol or flights to and from the experience). My daily average for ALL expenses since November is averaging $34 per day ($1020 monthly), half the cost and including everything. I do often arrange trade situations (like my current at Playworking) and that has defrayed a lot on the spending end of things so I am on the low end of cost, but DIY is absolutely less expensive. These experiences simplify finding housing, coworking spaces, friends, events and excursions - but figuring those things out is half the fun and experience of nomading. They're like the cruise ship of nomad life... The Disney cruise ship... POSITIVE: The more people attracted to this sorta life expands global compassion and understanding of other cultures, regardless of how the experience has been packaged. I'd love if these companies could incorporate an eco/humanitarian component to the experiences... (Ok new brainstorm is starting in my head ATM... Adding volunteer opportunities like dog shelters into the experience where nomads walk dogs/assist shelters and donate some $). Speaking of, I convinced the owner of my coliving/coworking space to let me foster a local pup - he said no. And now I have a foster named Nik for 4 weeks... ;)

Digital • Romance

I'm always the one leaving. Or we are both leaving. Yes, there is a romantical component of my brain that loves the idea of getting swept away by a fellow nomad and then pursuing the adventures of the world together, but the more common reality of the situation is that you either meet a fellow traveler and then stay in touch less and less as the miles between you grow OR you meet someone who lives in a place as you pass through and they scheme up ideas of how they also want to travel the world and do things, and then you leave, and then they stay. Relationships are not impossible to find, but are certainly less promising than when you've got roots planted in a location. POSITIVE: Traveling with someone speeds up the getting to know you process. Knowing there is an end date makes it easier to be open and honest about intentions. It's a lot less likely that you'll hold onto someone out of convenience, which in turn leaves you open for the extraordinary - if you believe in those sorts of things ;)

Digital Nomad • Stability

Being on the go all the time precludes you from easily having a pet, a fridge full of your favorite foods, your own space where everything has its own place, exercise rituals. These are things that make me happy! I miss them! POSITIVE: These things and others are not impossible on the road, just harder. By staying 1-2 months in a few places I've been able to get my fix of all these things, but it's an exercise in patience and letting go. I'm an impatient, OCD, occasional control freak, so that's probably a good thing to learn.

NET POSITIVE:

I still get Netflix and chill days where I encounter no other human life forms, but despite those, my brain is constantly igniting with ideas, dreams and schemes. I broke out of a materialistic rut that had sucked my soul for the past decade. I'm creating a life I love on my own terms, and after stripping away the bullshit, I'm learning what I want to add back in. 

Mental Shift

It a mental exercise to remember what side of the road is the correct side to drive on. It's the opposite in the States and sometimes I just can't remember!

Another mental exercise is redefining my worth. I never put a ton of stock into being a "career woman" but I was fairly successful in <5 years of digital marketing from going from $18 per hour to $80+k. Now I am looking for scraps and odd jobs for freelance work and volunteering at a circus for free room + shift meals. This is not a complaint or a bad thing, however it is a weird mental shift. It's the space between.

elephant-girl-pai-thailand-travel-wander

The space between finding a place to live for a few months and getting divemaster certified.

The space between defining my budget and what I can earn.

The space between knowing for certain (or as certain as we can) that we should stick together as a couple or if we will part ways amicably or catastrophically.

I didn't save much to begin this lifestyle - in fact I basically only have what was budgeted for November's rent. So in terms of being an equal partner with finances I feel like I'm on really shaky ground. This isn't an issue between us, it's my issue. a lack of control and mobility. I'll have it back once there is a defined stream of income, but currently there is a certain scramble-mode in my brain.

The easy solution is pack-up + head back to the states, save some money, define income streams that are sustainable overseas... The creative solution is one where I find a way to create an sustainable income that allows me to save + live. The kickass part? I am debt free + that isn't going anywhere. I can live on very little and be happy. Pairing down my belongings to always fit in my 50L bag is an exhilarating feeling.  The rest? Ha, just noise. It will work it's way out.