After having a late lunch we wandered around the city which was founded by the Spaniards coming south from Peru in 1565. Nowadays it is the biggest city in the north of Argentina with 500 000 inhabitants. We also visited the Casa Historica de la Independencia. This was the venue of the Congress that declared the Independence of the United Provinces of South America on 9th July 1816.
The next day we joined a tour to Quilmes. First we drove past sugar cane fields, some being harvested and others still to go. In a zigzag it went up through the Quebrada de los Soses and forested hills to a treeless plateau. In El Mollar, in the Valle de Tafi, we visited the Parque Menhires. Menhire is a word with a celtic background that refers to European megaliths, whose meaning is translated "long stone" or "standing stone"
. Some monuments are up to 3m high, with one side engraved with szmbolic designs, such as snakes and human figures. The Menhires originate from the Tafi culture, which flourished in 300 B.C. and lasted til 800s. The stones used to be scattered around the valley and in the meantime they have been several times transferred, once in 1977 by the government. The town Tafi del Valle, 1976m is popular in summar to retreat from the heat of Tucuman. In winter and especially during siesta time there is not much, e.g we had difficulties getting something to eat.Afterwards the route climbed up through arid landscape and over the Infiernillo Pass at 3040m with some spectacular views. In Quilmes there are some impressive ruins. You can see an intricate web of walls bulit into the mountain side, where 5000 members of a Diaguita tribe lived, resisting the Inca and then the Spanish domination. As a last stop on the way back we visited some Jesuit ruins de San Josť del Monte de los Indios in Lules.
Today I took a day bus, this time only a 6 hour bus ride to Tucuman. Here I met up at the hostel with Steve, as we are going to travel for the next ten days together.