Saturday was an even earlier start as we headed out to a hilltop Pachamama memorial and then to the HUGE salt flats. There is no road through the salt flats, but the idea is to drive around on them wherever you want…this is where having rented a car and being on my own with a couple other people would have been FUN. The salt flats were pretty similar to those in Utah, except much bigger and instead of being completely flat, they have ridges all over them that are mostly in the shape of pentagons (not exactly ideal for breaking land speed records). After about an hour on the salt flats, my eyes were shot (snow-like reflection issue), and we headed out to Purmamarca for lunch and a solo Bob Dylan-style serenade (He played the double-layered indigenous flute while playing guitar). Even with the dual-instrument uniqueness, it was not a great show. The food was equally unappealing and Waleed and I ordered a portion of Locro to share. Locro is a traditional Argentine meal that I had yet to try. It originated in this part of Argentina and is served as a sort of llama stew. With a little salt and pepper, it was pretty tasty and really hit the spot. Depending on how it is prepared, llama can be quite the tasty meat. After plenty of time to walk around and peruse the tourist items for sale, we got back on the bus and returned to the cabañas in Tilcara. The salt flats were about 3 hours away from Tilcara.
Saturday we had a huge meal at the cabañas complex, which started out with a salad bar and very tasty tamales. I almost flipped when I realized there was absolutely NO hot sauce to put on the tamales, but decided just to go with the flow. I thought that the tamales were the meal, so I had two (one meat, one veggie). After some salad, bread, the tamales, and corn on the cob, I thought the meal was over and that I should be in dessert mode. Then they came around and served us four different kinds of meat (Chicken, Asado (steak), matambre (other steak) and cordero (lamb). Although I was stuffed to the brim before any of them came out, I didn’t want to miss out on the feast. The lamb was the best…so tender…possibly the best lamb I’ve had in Argentina. Dessert was a square of vanilla ice cream topped with an unidentifiable crushed nut. I ate that too. After some conversation, I engaged in an intense game of ping pong with Adrian, one of the bus drivers. We started out playing a normal game, but it quickly escalated into a whole new animal where boundaries did not exist and the point was just to get to the ball as quickly as possible, no matter where it landed or was headed. I’m not sure how, but we didn’t break anything. Shortly thereafter, our entire group headed to a bar in town where a very versatile band was playing all sorts of tunes for us. Tonight was an open bar on FLACSO’s tab. The only stopping us from breaking their bank was the lingering, back-of-your-head knowledge that we would need to get up early in order to catch the bus to the airport the next morning.
Sunday was mostly uneventful, but I took a lot of good pictures…both from the bus and from the plane. The clouds were looking very cool from up there above them. Almost the whole 2 hour ride to the airport, Daniel, Waleed, Arielle, and I were talking about sushi recipes and creations. By the time we got to the airport, hunger was well upon us…
Just to be on the safe side, FLACSO got us to the airport a good 4 hours ahead of schedule. I went upstairs with Natalia to the café that had not been touched as far as decoration/furniture goes since it was built in what must have been the 70’s (I took a picture). It was like a time machine….even though I’ve never really been to the 70’s (unfortunately). I had some coffee and dove into my UBA reading for (believe it or not) the third time of the weekend. By the time we landed in Buenos Aires, I had gotten somewhat caught up with my reading, written in my journal, taken some sweet pictures, drank a beer, and even slept a bit…talk about accomplishment!
I shared a taxi home with Daniel and was excited to get back to my quiet house and relax. I had conveniently forgotten that Olga was having her birthday part with her family on this Sunday. After less than an hour I was going nuts, and had convinced myself that I would do everything in my power to ensure not having kids for many, many years. In attendance were Olga’s son (Sebastian) and his wife with their two kids, along with Olga’s daughter (Natalia) and her two kids. Between the constant bouncing basketball, breaking dishes, way too loud television, and kids running and screaming everywhere…I retreated to my room which, even with the doors closed, did not help much.
Rosa, our maid, had been paid a small amount extra to come in on this Sunday, and besides having to work her ass off on a Sunday, she cut her knuckle pretty bad on a broken glass cup. It was reminiscent of a gouge in one of my own knuckles, and remembering how much I appreciated having someone with me at the ER, accompanied Rosa to the public hospital. I also saw it as an opportunity to get a look at the free healthcare situation in Buenos Aires. The first hospital we went (Fernandez) said that it would be a three-hour wait…so we headed to Rivadavia, which, although not as helpful was a much shorter wait. The cut really needed stitches (my professional opinion), but the doctor cleaned it up with iodine and taped a piece of gauze on her hand. The in-depth 4-minute visit, was disappointing, but hopefully it heals just fine. That pretty much brings me to where I am right now…typing this entry in a word document because the wi-fi doesn’t work in Menta e Cannella, right around the corner from my house. Hopefully this café con leche lets me pass out in a few minutes when I head back home…
Tot: 0.808s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 11; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0223s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb