While we were in Brazil, attending a wedding of one of Cris’s cousins, I overheard her eccentrically comedic uncle describing a type of travel he called “oba oba” style. Because this was a Portuguese term I hadn’t learned yet, I asked what this could possibly mean, and an aunt kindly explained that she thought he meant the kind of traveling where you head in a general direction but don’t really know where you’re going or have any clear plans. My theory is that it must refer to the way Brazilians shout “oba!” any time they receive an unexpected prize or happy result. Thus, when you head out in the “oba oba” style, you tend to find yourself shouting with happiness every time you reach an unplanned, unexpected destination.
I liked the idea.
So, while we were enjoying the very well planned W Circuit of the Torres del Paine park in the Chilean Patagonia, I convinced Cris that what we needed was to rent a car upon our return to Buenos Aires and head out on an oba oba adventure.
I’ll admit, it’s not the easiest way to travel. That said, it has provided us with some pretty great results. Yes, we’ve driven about 3100 km (1920 miles) since we started 11 days ago. However, we’ve had some great, and unexpected, times. I’ve already posted about our time in Mendoza, which was wonderful. I left out that we loved it partly because of the quaint boutique hotel where we stayed, which made it easy to relax between adventures into wine country. The “oba oba” aspect of that trip was that we had no place to stay in Mendoza until we arrived in town. Because we liked it so much, we stayed there for four nights. It helped that Cris is particularly good at getting a discount every time she walks unannounced into a hotel lobby.
After that, we really only knew that we would head north. On our way north, we had to stop in the less interesting town of La Rioja. During our night there we decided that the next day we would try out the village of Tafi del Valle, about 5 hours away. As we headed up the only highway into town, however, we were stopped and informed that the road was closed due to construction. We were discouraged, because at this point we were pretty far away from anything other than the village of Tafi. So, after scouring the map and surveying the locals, we gathered our spirits and resolved that the best thing to do would be to drive another 5 hours north to the nearest big city, Salta. Again, we had to spend a night in a less than desirable town, but we did manage to find another charming inn. Over dinner and then breakfast we figured that we might as well take the hint and keep heading north before circling back south to reach Tafi from the other direction.
Heading north took us to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, and we were stunned. After taking in some of the most colorful and awe-inspiring canyon country I’ve ever seen, we settled on the town of Tilcara, once again finding delightful (and discounted) lodging. Here are some pictures of the Quebrada de Humahuaca region:
After three nights of that, we knew we needed to start heading south to be able to make it back to Buenos Aires in time to meet up with Cris’s family for Christmas. So we checked out the options and picked the town of Cachi. Admittedly, we chose this one because it looked like it was the hardest to get to with the most winding road and because we’ve had great success lately with hard-to-get-to places and winding roads. Again, we were stunned. Here are some pictures of our approach to Cachi.
Today we decided upon waking that we’d make the easy 160 km drive to Cachi and even if we left late we’d make it in time to swing by a local winery. As it turned out, the “national highway” is a dirt road for about 135 km and it took about 3 hours longer than expected. But again, we were stunned by the spectacular landscape.
That’s oba oba. Yes, there are some frustrating moments and it can be stressful when it’s late and you don’t know where you’re staying tonight. But the feeling of reaching some place beyond your previous knowledge and finding out that there is even more out there is invigorating, satisfying, and relaxing. Plus, the journey is pretty awesome, and when you get there, wherever that may be, you can pretty much stay as long as you like.
Oh yeah, and it really helps to have a good audiobook. We’re currently listening to the biography of Steve Jobs. Man, that guy was crazy.