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A Gem in the Mountains


Published: June 16th 2017

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Why are there no Nortes here? I know, we call ourselves Americans, but isn’t that a slap to those of Latin America, who are also Americans. ‘Course, they don’t call themselves Americans (do they?), but it’s still a little arrogant of us, so I prefer to call us what the Paraguayans called Kathleen when she was there in the Peace Corps–Nortes.

So why do our countrymen not come to Merlo? Shopkeepers tell us they almost never see anyone from the United States here.

It’s knock your socks off beautiful in the most laid back, relaxing way possible. When you’re not jumping off cliffs with a kite strapped to your back you can go 4x4ing or trekking or even throw your money away at the casino. This place has everything except smog, pollution and English.

There are no services in English: tours, desk clerks, taxi drivers, literature, maps–nothing in English.

So….pick up a Spanish dictionary and get here. You won’t regret it. Find out what all of Buenos Aires already knows–this place is special. It seems the whole capital empties out in the summer and gathers here in these quaint little central Sierra villages. Merlo, Mina Clavero, Villa Delores, La Cumbre–they’re precious pueblos not

often visited by outsiders–maybe because they’re harder to get to and harder to talk to.

You don’t go to Merlo by mistake. Or any of the others. Most people go to Cordoba and switch buses there.

You can come to Argentina to the more advertised spots–Iguazu Falls, El Calafate, Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Mendoza–and never have to know a word of Spanish. But if you want to come away feeling like you’ve learned something of the real Argentina, you need to see these places too. They’re all extraordinary–every one in their own way, and each very unique. But it would be a shame to see only the highlights and miss the hidden gems.


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