Cactus and Altitude Adjustment

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, June 15, 2007

The last 3 days we've been in the very north of Argentina in a small town called Tilcara. It's nestled in a huge valley surrounded by bare mountains of red, purple and yellow rock, punctuated by tall green cacti. Most of the houses are of adobe brick and there are more indigenous looking people and dress here than anywhere else in Argentina. It's also a great location to recover when you've been laid low by a dodgy empañada from the previous bus station.
The winter climate is lovely, pleasant in the day and very cool at night (elevation of 2500m), although I'm sure that in the summer the days could be unbearable. We actually had our own spot of luxury, staying in a cosy hospedaje with an open fireplace - the best value we've had in Argentina for the price, at $16 for the two of us per night with breakfast. Again it was just fate we found the place. We had walked around the town looking for good value accomodation when a friendly fellow driving by, stopped his car and asked what we were after and how much we wanted to pay. We´ve been lucky in that it´s been low season in most places we´ve travelled - a strong negociating position!
The mountains around the area have been inhabited by indigenous peoples for centuries, most recently by the incas before the spaniards. As a result there are a multitude of archeological sites, and the museums are fascinating, displaying some of the mummies (naturally preserved in the cool dry mountain desert air) from burials, as well as child sacrifices.
We walked into the mountains yesterday with a spanish speaking guide (good practice for us) to visit some remote caves where we had to do an offering of coca leaves to the local spirits before passing inside. One of the caves went right through to the other side revealing a great view of multi-coloured mountains.
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