“The desert is so huge, and the horizon so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent.” (Paulo Coelho)
We didn’t know what would be awaiting us as we started out the next day to drive from Molinos to Cafayate. It seemed the landscape changed every few minutes. We’d get out of the car and there would be no sound except the rustling of grass the wind or an insect chirping. Near Molinos there were a few green pastures and livestock, but they soon gave way to the grays and browns of sand, pebbles and rocks. I was very careful to watch where I was stepping lest my ankles be kissed by the prickly spines of a cactus or worse, bitten by a snake.
Along the way, we drove past abandoned buildings and searched for a lone tree beneath which we could stop to eat and take a break from the drive. And suddenly, as we drove high above large sand dunes, the dirt road gave way to pavement and we were back in civilization. There were other cars, a policeman aggressively blowing his whistle and people bustling around the plaza.
After the stillness of the desert it was almost a sensory shock. We were happy to check into our room at the luxurious hotel Patios de Cafayate nestled in the vineyards of the El Esteco winery, where we stayed for two wonderful nights. There we went horseback riding in the late afternoon, ate delicious food, went wine tasting, swam in and lounged by the pool, reading and watching the, for us, exotic birds come and go.