2007 Roadtrip From La Rioja to Quilmes, Argentina

On Monday we set off for Belén, not far from La Rioja, for two reasons. Our first choice had been Termas de Rio Hondo, a town of fancy hotels and thermal baths. Once we determined that the best hotels were closed in the summer, we decided that the description of Belén in Lonely Planet required us to stop there instead. It asked "Did it [Belén] get a visit from ‘queer eye for a straight town’?" To us the town looked like the rest of the dusty, poor towns we had seen. The Hotel Belén, however, did look like a cut above. Unfortunately it was full.
It turned out we had another long day of driving. The roads were all paved, good and had very little traffic. An annoying aspect of driving in Argentina is the number of police or agricultural checkpoints. Each village seems to have one. When they are manned, one has to slow down until the police wave you on (or not). When the police stop the car, they ask where you have come from, where you are going and, curiously, your name. The town of Santa María wasn’t an inviting one so we continued on. We arrived in Quilmes at 9:15 p.m. after 480km/298 m.
Going to Quilmes was a lucky break. It was remote and really only an archeological site with a hotel, perfectly integrated into the surroundings. Fortunately the Posada de Quilmes (Ruinas de Quilmes, Amaiche del Valle, Tucumán, Argentina, (03892)421-075, e-mail: complejopachamdmama@cosama.com.ar) had a nice room (no air conditioning but it was cool and quiet at night in the desert and there was a fan). Moreover, the restaurant was open. The room cost AP$164/US $54. The restaurant was full of a group from France, with whom we could parle and Argentineans of Italian extraction with whom we could parlar. It was fun. Another "all’s well that end’s well" kind of day.

The hotel was beautifully designed and decorated with Incan motifs.



Posada de Quilmes, Argentina
The next morning, before the desert heat kicked in we walked the site, which was an urban center about AD 1000. We climbed the surrounding hills that had formed the fortress or pucará of the Quilmes Indians. It was fantastic.
Ruines de Quilmes



The Incas did not conquer these Indians. Instead they incorporated the Inca culture. The Spanish, however, were another matter. After many years and a siege, the last of the Quilmes were deported to Buenos Aires, to a place that is now a suburb called Quilmes. I felt we were back to our old enjoyable days in Turkey and Greece, exploring ruins.