Day 55: October 9, 2007 Salta to Tartagal

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2008

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Day 55: October 9, 2007 Salta to Tartagal

I got up a 6:15 to shower and have breakfast. My sore throat was bothering me some as was my arm. I was ready for the cab when it arrived at 7:45. He took me to the Shell station across from the bus terminal where I met the busload of UNSa students. One of the leaders, Juan Carlos Fernández, greeted me as I arrived. Surprisingly, everyone was already there, unusual for any student field trip, so we got underway a half hour earlier than planned. The only one missing was the other leader, Luis Alvarez, who was detained in Buenos Aires and would have to catch up with us tomorrow via the overnight bus.

The UNSa bus was a new Volksbus by Volkswagen. It had 24 seats and was very comfortable. I sat with Juan Carlos. I was able to sleep some on the way. We made surprisingly good time and were in Libertador when I awoke. It was clearer over the Sierras Subandinas than I had ever seen it. I took fotos of the Sierra Pescado, Sierra de Pintascayo, and Sierra Baja de Orán.

We pulled into Embarcación a little after noon and got off at the plaza central. It was only the second time I had been there. It was much nicer than I remembered. Juan Carlos and I had lunch at a nice restaurant, La Esquina, not surprisingly, on one of the corners. The students found cheaper places to eat.

We were underway again by 1:40 and drove by the Sierra de Ramos where we did the Quebrada Porcelana study, and made Tartagal by 3:00. We immediately drove up to the YPF company town of Acampamento Vespugio, just north of the city, where we entered the Quebrada Galarza in the Sierra de Aguaragüe. It was hot. I had run samples from the Tranquitas Formation that were collected there so it was good for me to take a look around. Most of the strata were Carboniferous, unconformably overlain by the Tertiary Tranquitas Formation. The most interesting things about the place were the natural oil seeps, bubbling petroleum out to the surface and then flowing through the sand until it sank back in. We examined the dramatic changes in dip along the roadcuts caused by the thrust fault that runs through the area. Unfortunately, Luis had all of the information on this area, having worked there for several years, so there were probably some things that we missed.

We returned to Tartagal. Four of the students were spending the night with friends or family so we let them off in various places. One of my students, Pamela Murillo, told me she was spending the night with her fiancé's parents. The rest of us drove into the army base and took over two wards of the hospital for 10 pesos/person. There did not appear to be any patients. Most of us dozed for an hour or so before heading back to the plaza central.

I spent a night in Tartagal in 2005 with a Berger Grant student trip. I oriented myself quickly. It is a pleasant town. A farmacy on the corner provided me with some medicine for my throat. I declined to buy antibiotics but soon started thinking that I had made a mistake. Juan Carlos and I found a place I had eaten at in 2005 and sat down at the sidewalk café for a beer. I sent a text to Elena to see how she was doing. She didn't have school that day and Estela had apparently forgotten that she was supposed to spend the night with them. We talked and she said she was fine by herself. Bernardo, Toyo, and Jorge were all there so I let her be a big girl and stay there. It turned out she didn't have school tomorrow either. Had I known that, I would have brought her along... grrrrr

After our second beer, Pamela and her incipient in-laws came in for dinner. They were very nice people. He is a Spaniard who works for Tecpetrol but I don't know in what capacity. We soon followed them inside and got a table for a good dinner.

We left to go back to the base but found the students drinking beer at a sidewalk café so we sat down and joined them. Unlike the place we had just eaten, this place had Salta Negra beer. In my opinion, it is the best beer in Argentina. Juan Carlos and the bus driver went back to the base at 11:30. I stayed for another hour, talking with the students and getting to know them a little. It was a lot of fun. Some of the women left at 12:15 via cab and I followed in another cab at 12:30.

The ward was hot and stuffy. One of the platform-style toilets with an overhead water tank was running continuously and could not be turned off. My throat hurt and I was getting congested. Students trickled back in throughout the night, the last arriving as we got up at 6:00. I didn't get much sleep.
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Where I stayed
Military Base
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