Thursday 31 December 2009 to Monday 4 January
On New Year's Eve we did some more wandering in Salta, managed to find a restaurant that was going to be open for the evening and booked a table. Also had lunch at a newish branch of Casa Moderna - good deli and if you were homesick you can buy such delicacies as bovril and sharwoods curry powder. Checked out the cultural centre and cinema listings to see if there was anything we wanted to see, drew a blank - everyone else is also taking this evening off.
Not sure where the day went but we ended up watching Star Wars Episode IV for probably the 20th time before heading out for our New Year's Eve dinner. At midnight the fireworks started in earnest as we were into our second bottle of wine.
Surprisingly enough New Year's Day started quietly, after breakfast we headed into town for a stroll and the streets were almost deserted, never seen the Plaza this quiet. Picked up the car from the sleepy garage attendant and headed north on the scenic route to Jujuy and winds through green hills and lakes. We were early enough to
miss most of the holiday traffic, this started to increase as we dropped out of the hills, lots of locals heading away from the towns to the lakes. we bypassed Jujuy to head up the Humahuaca valley. Beautiful rock scenery. We were aiming for Tilcara, a place we had visited briefly to see the restored pucara four years previously. This time we were coming for a couple of nights and a horse ride. I had thought originally of heading further towards Bolivia and going to Iruya but we decided to leave that for next time.
We managed to find our nice hotel down one of the dusty unpaved side roads. A nonedescript street front hid a lovely garden surrounded by mini cottages. We even had a sofa in a sitting area and a wood burning stove - shame it was about 25 degrees too hot to try that out.
We had provisionally arranged a ride for the Saturday morning and went in search of the organisers to confirm what we were doing. As it turned out we ended up changing our ride from two hours to a six hour excursion. After a nice dinner in the hotel (including
Llama lomo) we went to bed at a sensible hour - before midnight for the first time in a while.
Up bright and early to meet our guide for the ride. We were the only riders this morning. Adrien was in his early twenties, son of the owner of the riding business and keen to practice his English, which didn't help us practice our spanglish. We even had riding hats, never had these in Argentina before. We then headed out of town and rode for a couple of hours, passing above the Gargantua del Diablo and onwards to a lovely spot where Adrien and a friend who had come up earlier proceeded to produce a splendid parillada of morcilla, chorizo, asado de tira and llama with salad and wine. While we enjoyed the scenery and the food the horses had a break as well. We eventually got ourselves together to ride back to town. A lovely ride.
After recuperating we went for a walk to stop our limbs from seizing up and managed to get caught in a rain shower that turned into a thunderstorm. For about 30 minutes we sheltered in a shop doorway with some locals,
eventually we all accepted that we would need to get wet. At least the rain kept the dust down. Later we went out for some food and a drink and ended up listening to a local band in the restaurant.
Next day we were due to go to Jujuy but first we had a diversion north to see the church at Uquia. This colonial era church has 17th/18th century pictures of angels with arquebuses that we remembered from last time and wanted to see again. No luck this time as the church was firmly locked up even though it was Sunday morning. (photo included is from Jan 2005)
We drove south through the valley and into Jujuy city where we had decided to stay. We parked up at the hotel and then went on a walkabout. The city was hot and quiet but we managed to visit the small archaeology museum and see inside the cathedral and we passed by the former railway station which has been restored as an art museum. Jujuy isn't as lively as Salta but would be a nice enough place to spend a few days. Monday morning was busy as we went to
A lunchtime Llama
Adrien serves up parillada
the bank before driving the motorway route back to Salta.
After managing to get lost in the outskirts of Salta we eventually dropped the car off at the airport bang on time: around 1300 km driven in a week but no dents or cracks in the windscreen. Uneventful flight back to BA where we would be based for the last few days of the holiday.
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