A trip Jujuy

 Posted by Delia Downes at 10:41 am  Argentina
Jun 262014
 

Well, now that it is Thursday, June 26, I am finally finding some time to write about my past weekend.

In the northwest corner of Argentina, bordering Bolivia and Chile are the two provinces of Jujuy and Salta.  This is an extremely remote area in the Andes high desert foothills.  I traveled with a group of 12 from the Able Spanish School by bus from Cordoba.  The trip took about 14 hours with many stops along the way.  We traveled at night and although 14 hours on a bus may sound like torture to some it is quite a comfortable experience in Argentina, as the bus seats nearly fully recline into sleeping chaises and they supply both blanket and pillow.  On the way up a hot meal was served by an attendant and a movie shown.  We left at 8:30 p.m. and so arrived Friday, mid-day, fairly well rested.  After establishing our base at a beautiful hostel in Tilcara we spent the afternoon hiking Pucara a reconstructed pre-Columbian settlement.

The hostel in Tilcara

The most notable thing about this place aside from its remote beauty is the numerous cacti that grow everywhere.  These things have to be hundreds of years old considering their size.  There is a story about an Argentine general fighting for independence from Spain  who being short on troops and supplies ordered his men to dress some of the cacti as soldiers, then stampeded horses around the encampment creating a great deal of dust and the impression that he was leading a great army.  Evidently the ploy worked and he went on to win Argentina’s independence from Spain.  I think the guys that had to dress the cacti should have been given additional combat pay.

We also had a great lunch in Tilcara where I had my first meal of llama.  Yes, llama.  The indigenous people here, though most were exterminated throughout Argentina, make complete use of the llama, using it for labor, wool, meat and burning their bones to use as fertilizer in their fields.  This struck me as similar to the culture of Native Americans and their relationship with the buffalo, not to mention their near extermination.  We were served llama a few times on this trip, llama empanadas, llama with quinoa, spicy llama appetizer.  We were eating so much llama we began to make up dishes like crème de llama, or dulce de llama.  But really it was tasty.

Llama and quinoa

On Saturday I rose early with a few girls from Germany to watch the sunrise.  Although it was a bit bright when we started out the sun had not yet risen above the mountains, so we did get to witness a transformation of shadows, light and color as it climbed into a brilliant blue sky.  It was nice to be up early just us and the local dog population.  There is an ever present canine sub-culture everywhere in Argentina.  I am really fascinated by how they live so independently with their human counterparts,  each with a busy itinerary for the day of observing, exploring, reporting, eating, snoozing etc.  They travel alone or in pairs usually, but never more than 3 at a time.  They know each other, the streets they prowl, the usual routines all around them and become excited if anything is out of the ordinary, eager to investigate, reporting their findings with barking commentary.  I fell in love with this little dog that appeared this afternoon as we walked past her house.  Isn’t she stunning.

There is just so much to tell you about this trip.  I know I cannot get it all in.  The one thing the pictures cannot describe is the intensity of the silence.  No photo can capture its beauty, just believe me when I tell you no sound, no traffic, no planes, no people, no birds, just again, once in a while, a distant bark.

We later went to Purmamarca and hiked the Cerro de las Siete Colores, Hill of Seven Colors.  I must admit I’m beginning to feel my age with this group that is 30 to 40 years younger than I.  I’m just glad I did not wait any longer to visit these remote locations.  There is a limit and I may be reaching it.  Remember now we are at least 6,500 ft above sea level and climbing.

Later that night we  dined at a a restaurant and yes had more llama, and listened to traditional folklore musicians.

 

   

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