In the pantheon of epic road trips ((India on an Enfield, the American West, Vietnam north to south, Classic Europe, etc)), I’d never heard about northern Argentina. It’s not spoken about with the same reverence some of the other backpacker road journeys are and I’m not sure why that is. It should be, this is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of renting a vehicle. This is the American Southwest x Tuscany x The Shire. Plus beautiful women, cheap wine, and great steak. They call the region La Linda, “the beautiful”. It earns the name.
There’s an incredible authenticity, for lack of a better word, to the land and culture here. There’s money here, and there has been for a long time, but it hasn’t Westernized the culture into changing. It’s not famous enough to feel forced into looking like something, if that makes any sense at all. There’s no kitchiness, no effort, rather a simple beautiful place and people. There really is a rigidity that comes with a place being iconic – it requires consistency. Paris looks like Paris but also tries to look like Paris. Seaside towns in New England are perfectly crafted to look like what seaside towns in New England should look like. There’s a collective effort there, a conscious attempt to manage the flow of development towards predefined ideals. You can feel it, if only slightly. Not here, here there’s a rustic realness to everything that’s incredibly appealing. It feels as if the people have been living this way, simply but richly, for centuries. Some magical combination of land and climate and culture has created a beautiful little bubble in northern Argentina. The landscape is diverse and stunning. The people are effortlessly gorgeous. The food is fresh and delicious. The wine is smooth and rich. If I ever need to escape to somewhere, look for me in La Linda.