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Published: October 8th 2012
We awoke this morning to a beautiful crisp day knowing that although we were once more packing and leaving at least we would only be in the car for some of the day. We had driven as high as we were going to go yesterday to get here, 4170 metres, and we were glad to be back where the air was thick and breathing was easy. We were also excited to see Permurmarca by day and to check out the local market.
Purmamarca is reasonably close to the big city of Jujuy which makes it well frequented by tourists. The market caters to the tourists and is far from authentic. The main wares are blankets and clothes with traditional designs. The colour was a feast to the eyes after the grey of San Antonio and the white of the Salinas yesterday. The best sight though was a hummingbird building its nest. We had never seen a hummingbird before. It was hovering as it plucked the fluff. It's wings beat so fast. Quite an amazing show of the variety of creation.
In the town you could see the seven coloured hill that makes Purmamarca famous, but the best view was
just outside the town. Tourist buses and cars were all pulled up for the obligatory photo and Fiona insisted on joining them. Once more an amazing show of the variety of creation.
The drive today was up the Quebrada de Humahuaca. This gorge is yet another UNESCO world heritage sight in this corner of the world. We were heading for the town of Humuahuca and would continue further north if we felt like it. If we carried on we would get to Bolivia. The road has been an important route for trading for thousands of years as well as an important place in the battle for independence.
As we drove to Humuahuca we passed Tilcara. We had a hotel booked there for the night so we knew how far we had to drive before bedtime. The road was as beautiful as expected. The rocks were coloured and although some looked similar to those we had previously seen there were also new formations to enthral us. We also passed dusty adobe settlements, workmen ploughing with horses, ancient ruins and the tropic of Capricorn.
Humuahuca was supposed to be less touristy than other towns in the gorge like Tilcara
and Purmamarca, but it was still up there. We loved the street art and the lively little plaza in the centre. We had lunch in a nearby cafe and for the first time were actually able to have humitas. These are similar to tamales but vegetarian. They are made of sweetcorn and a dough wrapped in corn leaves and boiled- delicious. Then we walked up the steps to the over the top monument to independence where there were great views over the town.
We decided to go to Tilcara rather than spend more time driving further North and back. We stopped on the way to admire the church at Uquia with its unique pictures of angels in medieval costume toting guns. Several times in our travels we had crossed the equator, but we had only done so on land in Indonesia. Here in Argentina we were crossing the Tropic of Capricorn on land and so we had to have a photographic reminder. There were the usual tourist stalls at the site and not much else. The line was marked with a small monument and a sundial.
In Tilcara we found our way to the hotel and settled in.
The idea was to spend a quiet afternoon. Harriet wanted to catch up on Facebook and twitter and Fiona and Toby needed to plan accommodation for the rest of the week. Unfortunately the hotel was an Eco hotel and although beautiful and peaceful, this included no wifi in the owners definition. There was an Internet space with a couple of computers downstairs, but paying for things on a public computer isn't always a good idea. We almost left, but the manager was really helpful and gave us his personal wifi password. It didn't work in the room but we could sit in the gardens which we did.
The Pena we wanted to eat in was closed for holidays, so we ended up at another place around the corner. The food was pretty good. We really haven't had a bad meal in Argentina. Harriet didn't like being close to the kitchen though as the cooks chopping onions made her eyes sting. She cheered up when we got back to the hotel and climbed into warm beds. The hotel had given us hotties before we went out. Nice touch.
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