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Published: June 16th 2016
The next day we were off to Rosario, this is meant to be Argentinas cultural capital and an up and coming place for backpackers. Fortunately our hostel was much nicer than our last hotel and breakfasts included some pastries as well as baguette breads instead!! But still, just bread for breakfast. I think places here have mistranslated bed and breakfast to bed and breadfast.
We headed to the monument in Rosario to get the best view of Rosario. The view looked over the river, which at this point (being the rainy season) was flooded. The town itself looked like it had been a very prosperous place in the 60’s and 70’s with high rise apartments built there, but outside the main street, the town had a more tired look. Along the river bank were teens setting up a stage for a gig later. It seemed everywhere on Sundays closed down and there wasn’t much for young people to do. After this we checked out Che Guevara’s birth place. He had been born in Rosario and spent the first couple of years here, before his family moved. Oddly the town really didn’t seem to make a big deal of this. There
was barely a sign for the house where he lived and certainly no museum. Later that evening we headed to the municipal art museum (Museo Municipal de Belles Artes) and happened to come across a small orchestra playing in the art gallery, which was a nice surprise.
It was then off to Cordoba, where we stayed in what can only be described as a hippy hostel, complete with the smell of weed passing through the corridors. We headed out into town to wander round and ended up in an area that had no food places but 20 shoe shops all within a few minutes of each other! Finally we found the new town and places to eat. We kept noticing graffiti saying, “Donde esta Yamila Cuello? This we discovered was of a missing girl from the town where people believed she had been sold to human trafficking. There are protests every year on the day she disappeared trying to find her again.
The next day we did a walking tour which went to the cathedral, town hall, a house where the president lived during one of the many Buenos Aires protests a number of years ago, the one
of the 7 Universities, which boast at being free for Argentinians, Guemes (where we found even more bars and restaurants) and new town. We learnt a little about the dirty war, where after Peronism in Argentina the military government tracked down Peron supporters and tortured them. Towns like Cordoba had places where people were taken. This is now a memory museum. It was creepy thinking about what happened there and that there are a lot of people from this time in history still missing. Every Thursday in Buenos Aires grandmothers and mothers walk around Plaza de Mayo as a protest and to remind the country they still do not know where their children/ grandchildren are. It is incredible as we knew very little about this history but it is a huge part of Argentinian history that is not really talked about or known in the UK. Later we headed back to Guemes to find a quirky hippy restaurant and bar that was outdoors to eat at- I think our hostel was starting to influence us.
The next day we met up with some people we had met on the walking tour to visit the Cordoba Belles Artes (art gallery)
which had some great local artists with some pretty impressive paintings. One exhibition was pretty dark and was about human trafficking. We followed this up with another art gallery- a bit more modern art and the cultural museum, which seemed to be randomly closed. You get used to this a lot in South America, things just deciding to close for the day with no warning. We then had some lunch in the park with everyone before saying good bye and sorting our onward travel at the bus station for the next day. Sarah and I did stay for a coffee with one of the group who was staying a little longer in Cordoba before heading to Chile and Peru. We may see her in Cuzco before the Inca Trail.
Sarah and I had decided that we would take an 11.5hr bus from Cordoba to Salta during the day. Big mistake!! This was what we would call the bus from hell. Although it is the Argentinean winter, northern Argentine is still pretty hot but northern Argentinians regard it as cold. It is no way near as cold as Buenos Aires or even Rosario for that matter and Cordoba was pretty
comfortable, but the trek up goes from cold lowland areas to hot desert albeit climbing high altitudes. This means that during the day it is hot but at night it is very cold. The bus had very little air conditioning and at around 4pm we felt like we were going to pass out. In my pretty poor Spanish I managed to get the driver to put on the air conditioning, despite the other passengers sitting there with their jumpers on. Finally arrived in Salta, sweaty, dehydrated and worn out. We grabbed a taxi, driven by a one armed woman- (with gears!) to a really welcoming hostel which we pretty much had to ourselves.
We needed a couple of days to relax from the day before so we decided to stay for two full days in Salta. We checked out the park and city square and had a vegan lunch there. The diet in Argentina is pretty meat, cheese and bread heavy with lots of salt added, so we needed a bit of a break from that. We then visited the Cerro San Bernado, a hill that overlooks the entire town. Salta is much bigger than we had imagined and
covers an entire valley. It is surrounded by hills- the start of the Andes. There is a cable car up to it, but sadly no James Bond films have used this as a scene, unlike Rio J
Our last day in Salta was spent at the museum of High Altitude Archaeology (Museo de Arqueologia de Alta). Here archaeologists had brought bodies of dead children here to preserve them. Yes that sentence does sound a little odd, but traditionally in Inca times the Inca people would sacrifice children for their gods when there was a marriage between two families or a death of an Incan chief. The Incas stretched across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador and were many tribes that were taken over for a 100 year period. In order to form alliances between villages, families would marry their children off to others in far off villages. The capital of the Incas was Cuzco in Peru where most celebrations would take place, but sacrifices happened across the region with a view that this would help to please their gods. Due to the sheer expanse of land they took over and to strengthen these bonds across the Andes, funerals and
weddings would go on for weeks/ months depending on the distance people had to trek. The archaeologists had found some dead children in the Llullailaco volcano 6700m in altitude. Here a boy of 7, a girl of 6 and a teenage girl of 15 had been buried with trinkets. Due to the cold their bodies hadn’t decomposed at all and were still completely intact 100’s of years later. We saw the boy of 7 who had been tied down in a ball like shape, goodness knows what they had been thinking about their parents and villages as they were then buried alive with silver cups and clothing. The boys hand was in a fist shape so he must have been in a lot of pain before he couldn’t breathe anymore. Religion does do strange things to people but I could not imagine how strong their faith must have been in this god for them to murder their own children so brutally all in the name of a faith.
Later we saw another girl, called the queen of the hill. She had been dug up in the 1920’s and kept in a private collection. Due to this she hadn’t been
preserved therefore was largely decomposed. In 2003 the museum was able to take it to bring it back to Salta and the region it had belonged to.
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