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Published: December 25th 2010
After a 10 hour overnight bus from Buenos Aries, we arrived in Argentina’s second most populous city, Cordoba. Whilst here we visited some beautiful cathedrals and roamed the streets, which were packed morning, noon and night with people buying from the hundreds and hundreds of street stalls. We found a really cool, vibrant fruit, veg, fish and carne market, which was littered with restaurants for lunch. Altogether it was a pretty relaxed couple of days in Cordoba, with a notable rise in temperature.
We then took another 11 hour overnight bus to our final destination in Argentina, Salta. After strolling the first day (with a compulsory mid-afternoon siesta!) we decided we should see some of the sights on offer, so took a tour on our second day along the Quebrada de Humahuaca. This is a gorge about 150km long, which although technically is part of the Andes, is quite distinct from the main mountain ridge due to its mineral rich sedimentary makeup.
Along the way we saw some truly spectacular scenery. Originally I wasn’t all that enthralled by the idea of spending a day essentially looking at rocks, but the landscape here is breathtaking, with wide blue skies above
the ever-changing face of the gorge walls. We stopped off at Purmamarca where we saw The Cerro de Siete Colores (Hill of the Seven Colours) a hill face comprised of several different minerals, giving rise to, you guessed it, 7 different colours. It was like looking at a very very large coloured sand bottle!
Along our route, we encountered a protest blocking the gorge highway (protesting seems to be a national pastime here in Argentina – on average in Buenos Aires alone, there are 4 protests every day, and we have lost count of the number we have seen!!). Anyway, the protest on the road caused us a very minor detour, which was no problem, but it also sparked a quite vehement argument on the bus between 2 Argentinean women, who were yelling at each other for so long that our tour leader actually discussed kicking them off the tour!! Hilarious, although a firmer grasp of Spanish would have allowed us to at least work out which of them was craziest!!
We also visited Humahuaca, which is considered the capital of the gorge named after it. There we saw paintings of very Spanish looking Angels with weapons as
the Spanish conquerers had enlisted the native people to paint for them, and described angels as ‘just the same as us, but with wings’.
We both felt like we were in the Wild West, with such huge open spaces scattered with cactus plants and not much else, which inspired us for our next activity. After refuelling that night with a HUGE steak dinner, we headed off to a local gaucho ranch for a spot of horse riding. We rode through some very steep hills on the local breed of horse, which is very small but tough, and they were all completely unphased by trekking through some very thick prickly scrub, although I’m not sure we were as confident as our steeds. Unlike most trail rides, our gaucho was all for getting us moving as quickly as possible, so Gaucho Jimbo stepped up to the challenge and dug the spurs in, and was witnessed galloping along the trails like an old pro!!! Yee-hah!!!!
Back at the ranch (yep, that’s right!!) we were treated to an awesome BBQ, with blood sausage, chorizo, and more cow that you could shake a fork at!! There was also a lot of local red
on offer, which slid down a treat!! We were then asked to participate in a little lassoing. We were told we each got 5 attempts to rope the “cow” (a tree stump with the horned skull of a cow attached) and if unsuccessful, we had to run and our gaucho would try and rope us!! Suffice to say, we both dominated that cow and the gaucho was out of luck. He then suggested we could try roping a moving target – and on her second attempt, Gaucho Megs bagged herself a scampering Jimbo – roped!!! Once again – yeee-hah!!! We then spent the rest of our stay playing Sapo, a game where you have to throw bronze tokens about the size of a beer bottle lid at a table with slots on, and each is worth a different number of points – great fun if you ever get the chance!!
We finished our stay in Salta with a visit to a bustling market with all kinds of fresh food, as well as dozens and dozens of ‘restaurants’ where we shared a fine dinner of a dozen empanadas and a local beer. It’s fair and true to say that we
are going to miss Argentina – the people are friendly, the countryside has been dramatically beautiful from South to North, and the food and wine is out of this world. Our next stop is San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, so until next time, ciao!
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