Friday afternoon (New Years day), we left Buenos Aires by sleeper bus. Traveling with Andrew and Vickie for this week, two of our friends who are visiting from New York. Our bus arrived in Salta on Saturday afternoon and we checked into Grandma’s hostel. Wandered around town in the rain, ate empanadas, tamales and humita (all regional specialties. Humita is cheesy creamy sweet corn mixture, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed). Went to visit two insanely ornate churches and spent some moments contemplating the intensity and strangeness of these looming, over-wrought and slightly creepy places.
The sky cleared a bit and we went for a hike up the Cerro San Bernardo. The path is a steep, twisting stone stairway punctuated by prayer shrines every few hundred meters, each one representing one of the 14 stations of the cross. I think Salta seems very religious compared to Buenos Aires. It was a long, sweaty climb (1,070 stairs! winding through lush jungly forest) with beautiful views out across the city. At the top there’s a park with spectacular panoramic views and more Jesus stuff. We rode the gondola car back down and then wandered off to dinner.
Ate roasted goat and locro (more Salteño specialties – locro is a tasty stew) and then went to listen to some folklorico music at a place recommended by our taxi driver called La Casona del Molino, it was a beautiful and crowded place with casual, spontaneous music performances, I wish we’d stayed longer. Had to wake up early for the bus to Jujuy. Two hour bus ride, then rented a car and headed out of town. Tried to visit the hot springs at Termas de Reyes but it was mysteriously closed.
Waded in the river, drove onwards towards Purmamarca. Spectacular scenery as we passed Yala, as green lush river gorge turned to dramatic gravel and rock canyon, carved by water.
Turned up in Purmamarca and explored town, checked out the touristy handcrafts at the market and found a cheap hospedaje to sleep for the night. Purmamarca is a little tourist town with brightly colored, striated reddish mountains for a backdrop, situated in this lovely gorge, very photogenic. We discovered that we were sunburned and exhausted and hungry, went out to get dinner at a peña around the corner (peña is a place to listen to folklorico music). Had goat stew (thinking of the many cute little flocks of goats and sheep we’d encountered in the middle of the road during our days’ drive) and more locro and tamales. The peña started out a bit somber but got louder and more fun as the hour got later, with dancing and clapping and singing along. Sleepy and ready for bed now. I think we’ll go for a hike tomorrow morning, then we might head further up the gorge towards Tilcara, we’ll see.