Dont cry for me Argentina....
Trip Start Oct 28, 2005
31Trip End Jun 23, 2006
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I finally pried myself away from Buenos Aires...after 2 weeks I felt it was time to don my trusty blue backpack...and hit the road again...yay!!
I headed north from Buenos Aires to smaller cities of Cordoba, then Salta (to meet back up with Cass)which were nice enough little cities, but the beauty and culture of Argentina is outside the cities...Ive known this, but its taken me a month to see the real Argentina.
So, finally last week we departed Salta to check out a few lil towns we had been told about...when i stepped off the bus in Purmamarca, where there is a Hill of 7 colours (BEAUTIFUL rainbow rocks), I felt like a traveler again - finally. From here we had a wee taste of whats to come in Bolivia when we headed to the Argentinean salt flats, at an altitude of about 4000m...pretty incredible...(I dont want to write about them now, because im doing the famous Bolivian Salt Falts this week...). Next stop was Tilcara, another tiny town...where i encountered the traditional sight of donkeys, mules, dusty roads and houses made of mud-brick - the sights i expected in south america...
From here I headed for Iruya...another tiny town, this one nestled in the Andes...3 hours by bus on a windy mountain road that is notoriously dangerous...and in the first hour we passed an overturned van, where our bus was the first to arrive on the scene...about 15 of us had to shift the van so others could pull the man out...thank goodness with only a few cuts and a broken leg. Not the best start to my journey. Anyway...once i finally made it to Iruya, i felt the trauma was well worth it.
The guidebook said the 7 hour (round trip) trek to the village of San Isidro was ´´unforgettable´´ - and was the reason I wanted to go to Iruya in the first place. I learned that (against my wishes)a guide is a must, so i decided to join 2 ladies who had arranged for a local boy to show us the way. The trek to the village was beautiful (not quite unforgettable), but the magic was after the village, when our guide (David) agreed to take us on a longer loop walk home (which very few tourists get to do)...David turned out to be the best guide I could ever imagine...his 98 year old grandmother is the Medicine Woman, and is father is the tribal leader for the area...so he was filled with knowledge about healing plants, strange rituals, geography, history of the people, sport (where kids are soccer obsessed and often walk 4 hours in each direction to play a match with the neighboring village)...everything. The only problem was he spoke very quietly and very fast, so the 2 ladies (from Argentina) served as my translators...still speaking in spanish, but much more slowly, so I could understand everything (well most of it). After we left the village of San Isidro, we did one of the most incredible walks Ive ever done (and ive done a fair few)...thru the vast Andean hills...past little stone dwellings...Gauchos with their horses (one was Davids uncle)...to the edge of a breathtaking precipice...past a wide open plateau...down a canyon (where a rope bridge we were mean to cross had broken-yikes!)...thru canyons of pink rocks...across rivers...back to Iruya...just before nightfall.
Then today, I thought id be able to sleep on the 6am bus back to Humahuaca (where i was meeting cass)...because surely there would be nobody on it...ha! I was one of 3 gringos (the other 2 were actually from buenos aires...so not gringos at all) on the bus jam packed with locals heading into town for the day...women selling cheese, babies crying, huge backpack on my lap, girl next to me...not an ideal way to start the day, but an experience nonetheless...
Now, Im at the Argentinean border town of La Quiaca...heading into Bolivia tomorrow, for more adventures on and off the gringo trail (I hope). Bolivia is supposed to be the most incredible, but hardest country to travel in in south america...poverty, cold, heat, really bad food (especially for a vegetarian)...but richness and beauty that is unmatched... sometime in the next week or so will be touring the Salt Plains of Uyuni which are notoriously one of the highlights of South america...other than this i dont know what to expect...but it will be quite an adventure Im sure.
Oh yes...i do have an end in sight...I plan to arrive back in the good ole US of A in July...arriving in New York in early August...its quite frightening that there is an end in sight...but money is dwindling...and i miss having my own -quiet- room, with a comfy bed!
Adios for now! As always...i love hearing from you...so please drop me a note to let me know how you are doing wherever you are...