Taking a winding dirt road, we made our way through Cuesta Blanca. Only 45 minutes or so from the center of Córdoba, this area is much more rural, with little houses and farms built into the forested hills. We followed hand painted, wooden signs up higher and higher along the car-sickness-inducing road, playing loud music inside the car and letting the sun soak into our eager faces. Three exhausted looking backpackers beckoned for a lift from the side of the road. They told us they were from Chile and we let them hop in the back of the car. Porque no? They were happy to hear that Mario and I were extranjeros also; the five of us representing three different countries (USA, Bolivia, and Chile).
The road ended in a field at the top of the hill. We parked, and parted ways with the chilenos. Trusting yet another crudely painted sign, we began hiking along a trail leading to Playa de los Hippies, or “jipis” as pronounced in Spanish. The trail led to a beautiful vista point where you could look out over the hills and see the river flowing below. The rest of the walk was downhill, dropping us near a small tributary that fed into the river.
We found, to our delight, a lovely waterfall with pools for swimming and large rocks for lounging. But of course we didn’t stop there. We climbed, slightly precariously, up the rocks to a higher location along the water’s edge. There we had our own private pool with a section of the falls all to ourselves. Hot from the hike, we stripped down and jumped in. The water was warm; which surprised me. I am accustomed to the freezing, glacial runoff waters of the Pacific Northwest.
The new camera I brought for my trip is waterproof. While I am apprehensive to fully submerge it, it is perfect for taking shots near the water, being that wet hands and droplets of spray do not pose a risk. Mario and I had a blast taking pictures in the waterfall and floating in the pool below. The place was serene in it’s privacy and silence. The only sounds were our frequent giggles and the crashing of water onto rocks.
When we were through with the falls, we headed down to the main river. Groups of tents were scattered throughout the trees and Mario informed me that many hippy families and friends lived there permanently. Not legally, of course, but evidently no one ever cared enough to report them. Arriving at the beach, kayaks were pulled up on the sand, laughing children ran in and out of the bushes, and many of the local residents sat chatting and sipping mate. A bit of marijuana smoke could be smelled on the breeze. A group of friends sat cross legged in a circle; one man cradling a guitar in his lap. He began to play and all his female friends started to sing along. Mario and I sat in the sand listening to the sweet folk music and admiring the natural scenery until the sun began to set and we had to head back to the car.