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Published: April 27th 2007
The last week has flown by since I arrived in Salta. It certainly lives up to its name ´Salta La Linda´ with a nice plaza surrounded by buildings in lovely pastel shades that would make any picture postcard photographer pout with pleasure. It´s also surrounded by nice forested mountains. The closest one has a convenient teleferico to get you up and a nice view at the top which i´ve just done. I rewarded myself with an even nicer lomito (see pic) which must surely compete in unhealthiness with anything you could get from Botley Kebabs.
We(me+Lucas)´ve had a night in a cloud forest (it lived up to its name in every respect) followed by a hike in which we saw some Toucans! and got bitten alive by the Argentinian version of the midge, and also ripped to shreds by the local vegetation (mental note: wear long pants, long sleeves next time in cloud forest). Next, after a night out in Salta, we hired a car and managed to persuade another two from the hostel (Maria from Barcelona, and Sofia from New Zealand) to join us for a trip up one quebrada (canyon) up to the pass at 4100m then
on to the Altiplano, and a night out on a salt flat at 3500m in tents. The scenery really was stunning, and we also stumbled upon local pimiento drying, and some in-situ petroglyphs of llamas dating 6000 old (we stumbled upon this while Lucas was on his wild goats cheese chase). And of course real llamas, guanacos, donkeys and lots of dusty windswept locals. Well some of the scenery really has to be seen to be believed, so I´ll leave the describing to the photos... The night was surreal in a number of ways. Firstly we were all suffering from the effects of altitude, including headaches and nausea (at least i think the latter was due to altitude and not the 100 year old bit of cheese we found in a shop in San Antonio de los Cobres - what a taste!), then we saw the most amazing night sky ever really, then we got scared by a 50 tonne juggernaut that stopped momentarily next to us (turned out the salt pan was in full salt production), obviously the oddity wore off as he drove off and we weren't disturbed again. Next we started seeing strange phosphoresence floating around in
front of us... weird. Still we made it thru the night and surprisingly it wasn´t so cold.
The following day saw more crazy scenery, including multi-coloured rocks and ended with the worlds most windiest road through another cloud forest at twilight and you´ve guessed it in clouds. After a night back in Salta we dropped of Sofia, and persuaded another to join us (Kait from California). This time we headed south towards the wine growing region of Cafayate. But again through some ridiculous quebrada and over a huge pass to 3500m. Our poor little car was suffering by this point from all the dirt roads. I´m not entirely sure how its suspension held out, nor the alarming bulge in the offside front tyre.
We just made it in time for the last wine tasting at the Etchart bodega, and picked up a couple of bottles of their Malbec red for a cool 7.50 pesos a bottle (1.40UKP) which will no doubt be consumed tonight prior to our overnight trip to La Quaica at the Bolivian border. Other highlights of the trip were the goats cheese factory and the graffittied llama crossing sign (i´ll get this up soon -
i was driving so didn´t get the photo). Plus of course just the driving - 100kmph on a one lane (but two-way) dirt road with blind hairpins all the way.
So tomorrow Bolivia!
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