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Published: April 13th 2009
It was worth the journey and unexpected lay-over in San Salvador
Well it has been an adventure going to Purmamarca to see the coloured mountains. When I arrived at Salta I asked the tourist office people if it would be a problem taking local buses to Purmamarca during Easter. ´No´I was reassured, there are many buses.
Yesterday I set off on the journey: a bus (2 1/2 hours) to San Salvador de Jujuy, an hour stop-over, then a bus to Purmamarca, just over an hour going up the mountains.
The best part of the bus rides was the company. When leaving Salta I sat beside a fellow from France who had traveled the world for 14 months. We discussed philosophy, economics, the meaning of life, for over two hours. I think those of us who travel alone have lots of time to think. When we are in countries where we do not speak the language we are encased in silence most of the time. As the weeks pass, we leave behind thoughts and attachments to the things we left behind, and we view ourselves as global creatures who get to witness humanity in many forms. People are the same all over. How we relate changes. Lone travelers get precious time, experiences
View from bus traveling up to village
and perspectives so that when we sit beside someone who can speak the same language there is an outpouring of philosophy and experiences. Dare I say wisdom comes with traveling alone? yup
During the second bus trip I met a man from Argentina who was going home for a holiday to his childhood village near Purmamarca. He works as a journalist in Buenos Aires and travels to Paris regularly. He warmly welcomed me to the Jujuy province and gave me advice about what to see. It was nice to hear his appreciation for the mountain villages.
San Salvador was closed for the holidays, and I booked the first bus out of there. I was surprised at the incline of the road, but happy to be going into the mountains. And what mountains!!! The colours are spectacular. I guess I didn´t take the photos of the cactus perched on the edges of the hills (think they were in the lost ones) and I wish I could share the strange beauty of them. I did take many photos in Purmamarca.
The trip to this village was the last joyful tourist trek I will make in South America this year;
Purmamarca is one of those places where every turn of your head brings more beauty to your eyes
and it did not disappoint. The colours are so pleasing to the eye. I did not have much daylight time, so I ran around as quickly as I could.
It was getting cold when I got on the last bus out of there, and like Peru, it filled with many people who got off in the dark on the road along the way to San Salvador. I arrived at eight and went to book the bus to Salta. There were no tickets! I wasn´t the only person unpleasantly shocked to hear this. Local people were going from bus company to bus company (with me following) to find a way to Salta. There was none. There were buses in the morning.
Yikes! A bit of panic when I looked at the station (not very secure). Luckily, the tourist office was still open, and I was given a map with two potential hotels. And luckily the fellow wrote down the price because when I got to the first one, the guy tried to charge me more, knowing that I was stranded.
The room was o.k. for one night (think camping), and I returned to the market stalls near the
The sun was getting ready to set, which added more vibracy to mountain colours.
bus station to find toothbrush, paste, small shampoo, etc. There must be many days when people are stranded because all the toiletries are there.
I quickly showered the next morning and I went to the terminal and got ticket back to Salta. It was funny when I returned to my hotel. The maid laughed and shook her finger at me and noted that I did not sleep in my bed last night. I conveyed my stranded story to her. I wish I had a better adventure to amuse her.
My advice to fellow travelers: skip Cafayate and go to Purmamarca but make sure you get a return ticket from San Salvador before you get on the bus to the mountains. The trip takes about an hour and 15 minutes, so figure out the timing before you go. When you get there, go past the market in the plaza, up the hill where you can take photos of the vivid-coloured mountains. The items for sale in the market are cheaper in Peru, but if you won´t go there, they are relatively cheap for Argentina. The mass produced items are cheap. In the stores around the plaza there are some
The displays outside craftstores were lovely, too
handmade items that are not cheap. I had supper in a restaurant that was more expensive than those around the plaza in Salta. The guy from France found a cheap hostel bed, for 25 pesos, so if you have the time, you should stay a day or two. That would take pressure off getting the bus on time. The area is beautiful!
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