Quebrada de Humahuaca
25.05.2011 - 01.06.2011 15 °C
We spent a blissful 4 days in San Lorenzo and made some new friends, Simon and Annalaura who we whiled away many an hour chatting to. They even took me into Salta with them on one of the days when getting up was too taxing for Noush. We went to a museum called MAAM (Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana) which is a small museum about Inca life. The museum was founded as a result of the excavation of a grave of three Inca children that were found mummified in Llullailaco Volcano at 6700m in the 90s. The bodies were removed along with textiles and sacred objects that were all perfectly preserved and have been used to learn much about the rituals of Inca religion and tribal life. It was a strange and fascinating display, complete with a 500 year old six year old boy....ain't nothing that can prepare you for that.
Feeling more rested we headed off for a three day trip to the Quebrada de Humahuaca (Quebrada means canyon). It is an area of multicoloured hills and small dusty towns and we had chosen to stay in Tilcara.
We had another ridiculous bus journey, complete with broken bus and sat on a grass verge for an hour along with 30 other people and a horse and a chicken waiting to be saved. Our three hour trip soon became seven.....bloody buses!! Our new bus was 30 years old if it was a day but at least it showed films....Transporter 2 - a classic! Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it.....we quite enjoyed it, even in Spanish with subtitles. Looked a lot better than Big Stan that came on next...
Tilcara is a pretty little town and we had booked to stay in a B&B based on the elements and we had been put in the Viento (wind) room. We headed out to get something to eat as it had been quite a while since breakfast and did our best to wrap up as the sun was setting and the nights are starting to get really cold. We headed to a nearby restaurant, where Noush ate her first llama...not a whole one you understand. By the time we finished eating it was really cold and we decided it was time to invest in some local clothing. There is a huge market for alpaca wool clothing and obviously the tourists buy a lot of it but it is also worn by every local - so llama jumpers for us it was! I'm sure we can start a new trend in the pubs of north London.
The next day we headed off to a nearby town of Purmamarca, where we negotiated with Miguel to drive us to the Salinas Grandes. His car looked slightly more reliable than most and as it was a twisty turney hour into the mountains and to over 4000m to reach the Salinas. There we would spend an hour and then twist and turn our way back down again.
South America has some incredibly famous salt flats in the south of Bolivia called the Salares de Uyuni - they are supposed to be simply stunning. However, we knew that due to the revised travel plans that we weren't going to get there so the Salinas Grande was a taste of what that kind of geography is like. They truth is, it is hard, cold and blindingly bright. Quite a sight.
That night we met up with Simon and Annalaura who had headed north the day before us, for a feast of Argentinian steak and red wine - a meal we haven't become bored of and will miss when we cross into Bolivia. Another 4 hours flew by with talk of....everything really.....it was so good to meet people that we could really talk to - makes us realise again how much we miss all of you at home.
The next day we headed even further into the Quebrada to the town of Humahuaca. Another town of market stalls, tourists, stray dogs and strange religious iconography. I have to say that the Catholics really go to town in South America - the average church is like a horror film of bloody Jesus'.....it's quite dark and disturbing...not a place of worship as I would imagine it. We walked into the main square just before midday and were perplexed by the number of people standing staring at the church - it transpires that a moving statue of San Francisco Solano emerges every day to point at the crowd and then disappears again. OK........
We only spent three hours in Humahuaca which was about perfect, time enough to buy a couple more alpaca items, eat some empanadas and walk in the sun until it was time to head back to Tilcara through the beautiful coloured hills.
After travelling back to Casa Hernandez (bus film, Hachi: A Dog's Tale - could hardly see it, it was in Spanish and it still made me cry!) we had 36 hours to prepare to head off to Bolivia. We spent our last day in Argentina with Alex and Rijkje and another English couple, Helen and John, having an asado and drinking some wine and sitting around in our llama jumpers and hanging out. It was one of our favourite days actually - a mixture of good food, good wine and good company. What more could we ask for?