“Stepping back in time to a place where life is simple” was my initial feeling when I arrived in Merlo, San Luis. I have to admit..coming from Buenos Aires to Merlo was quite the contrast and a little hard to adjust to!
Since arriving I have found out that Merlo is is a place where people move to upon retirement or where the Argentine people go on holiday when they want a break from the everyday ´norm´. It is a relaxed, quiet way of life and in my mind it is similar to what Ireland must have been like in the 1970s – but with better weather of course.
The views are spectacular as it is located at the foot of the Comechingones Mountain Range, the people are friendly albeit not speaking any English, and it is cheap to eat out and go on excursions. Be warned however, the tour guides and tourism companies do not speak any English so it can be a little difficult to organize these.
If I felt like I stood out in Buenos Aires with my pale complexion, it is even more so the case here. I am the only non Argentinean tourist in the whole town however funnily enough, I do not feel one bit uncomfortable. The people are excited to talk to me and so helpful… and also very patient with my broken Spanish!
How did I end up here you may ask? Well, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I registered with an agency called ´Workaway´ which advertises jobs for bed/board. Long story short, I am working for a lovely lady in her institute teaching English. Initially I was not excited… I didn’t want to work as this is my year for travelling after all, but it is such an amazing way to integrate into a community and get the inside scope´. Valeria is fabulous! I would highly recommend coming here if you have the chance and I have now decided to stay for a second week.
From four year olds to adults, I am teaching all ages and it is such a pleasure to teach pupils who really want to learn English. It is a small institute called SOSmama with roughly 50 students and I found it a nice way to gain experience teaching Spanish speakers.
Although it is a picturesque and tranquil place, there is not much to do for the fellow backpacker here bar having some downtime or enjoying the views of the mountains. I do of course think having some time to reflect and breath is important but in my opinion two weeks is way too long without working or at least having something planned.
All in all, it was a pleasant visit but not for the easily bored. On the plus side, I got to catch up on writing my blogs and exercise etc. but I really am looking forward to my next stop. Mendoza and the wine region, here I come!!