Sunday, September 27, 2009

El Norte, parte 2

After Las Salinas Grandes, we descended the mountain range and returned to Salta. The trip down was full of spectacular views of colorful mountains and valleys. That night in Salta we made pasta in our hostel and got some shut eye before our second tour.

Monday was Día de Primavera, first day of spring! It was a very interesting day because we ended up on a special tour for about 5 young families who knew the guide, Rafa, personally. The families were, of course, Indio Solari fanatics. They were visiting Salta for the concert, but normally live in Buenos Aires province. The little kids were rockers too. They knew all the words and were showing off their concert t-shirts. Hilarious.

The day started by sharing mate with one of the new guys, Rafa, the driver and Sarah while heading north on the highway. Our destination of the day was Humahuaca. They were very excited to show us the music of their beloved Indio. I thought it was sort of run-of-the-mill rock at first, but then we looked at the book they had with all of lyrics and artwork associated with the music. The lyrics and artwork gave it all a context and now I like it a lot more. Funny how music transforms when you know what to listen for.

After some scenic photo stops, we went to Purmamarca. Sarah and I had been to Purmamarca the day before, but this time the Hill of Seven Colors was much more vivid. That hill is one of the most famous, but most of the mountains in that area are uniquely colorful. I though it all looked even better through my polarized sunglasses. Sarah disagreed. Either way, the pictures don't it justice.

We then headed into the hills, seeing them from the inside. It was beautiful. There were interesting rock formations and, of course, vivid colors. This group photo includes the Indio-worshiping banner that they flourished in all of their photos.
We made it to Humahuaca at lunch-time and ate at a restaurant that specialized in regional cuisine. At ate an amazing quinoa and vegetable stew. Lunch was fun because it was the first time that I got to significantly converse with the families. I sat next to a 10-year-old named Luna who was an absolute sweetheart. She told me about how dulce de cayote is delicious and I told her about how the United States has a lot of countryside. They thought a lot of strange things about the states, such as the entire country being a gigantic city. Luna and I talked a lot, but I also talked to the adults quite a bit. They asked me lots of questions. Between the main course and dessert Luna's 3-year-old brother caught on to what my name is and kept exclaiming "Cati, Cati!" to get my attention while I was talking to everyone else. Each time, he proceeded to tell me a lot about airplanes.

We then parted with the group, as they were heading back to Salta and we were staying the night in Humahuaca. Our hostel, Posada del Sol, was the greatest hostel I've experienced. We walked over the bridge that divides Humahuaca, down some dirt roads and arrived to the group of small, white-washed buildings with a group of gypsy-looking musicians and dancers in front. Our room had 5 beds and our 2 beds were up a ladder. It felt like we were staying in a treehouse, which we loved. After checking in, I went straight for the siesta option. I both feel asleep and woke up to the folkloric melodies and laughing outside. When I did wake up, Sarah and I joined the folks outside for a few dances.

Humahuaca is wonderful. It's a large town that's frozen in time, forgive the cliché. There's a German-style clock tower and a huge monument commemorating the native population, tree-lined plazas and handicraft shops, cobble stone streets and markets with frest vegetables, cheeses and meats. Our first night there, there was a parade of high school students celebrating the first day of spring, which is also student's day here in Argentina (like mother's day, but for students.) They were led by a brass band, had fire works that sounded like guns and danced in lines, shouting and singing the whole way. The police were anxiously monitoring the whole scene, but it was all harmless. Just very loud.

For dinner, we ended up in a mom and pop restaurant and shared goat stew and a tamale. The owners' son came over and talked to us. He was about three, and it was very amusing. He explained some super-heroes to us and demanded that we choose which super-hero we wanted to be. About every 5 seconds he'd declare "cambió," and we would have to switch which super-hero we were.

After this point my camera ran out of batteries and I didn't charge it, so all of the pictures are on Sarah's here's a good point to end part 2 and part 3 will come soon...


  1. Sounds like you hit all the right places on your adventure....Love the MARKETS!! :-)

  2. Hmmm.....How did I come to be a follower of your blog twice, as it seems to indicate below? Wow, that takes talent- NOT! :-)

  3. hey caitlin! sounds like you are having a great trip- tengo celos! enjoy your last few months- i hear you will be returning to us in january (woohoo!) te veo pronto entonces. cuidate! -ally eden