Reluctant to leave the cushiness of the Sheraton, we took one last shower (without wearing sandals! the luxury!) before hitting the road to the north. It was a very flat, straight, well-paved road, and Dave decided to find out just what the Gol could do.
|Turns out the Gol starts to shake around 90 km/hr (55 mph)|
Our first stop was Purmamarca, a small traditional village known for 1) sitting at the foot of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of the Seven Colors), 2) a bustling mercado of regional textiles and 3) dozens of giant tour buses dropping off swarms of camera-toting and manpri-wearing tourists. When they charged us $5 pesos ($1.25 USD) to park, Purmamarca was forever tarnished in Dave's mind. "The entire town is parking lot! I hate this horrible town! etc. etc"
|Here's kind of an ugly picture of the dusty streets of Purmamarca.|
All Dave could see was free parking spots.
|Not shown: a scary dog angrily barking at us while we were snapping this photo. We fled.|
|It's in a very picturesque location for a rebel camp.|
|Oldey-time carriage, oldey-time solemn photo expression|
(but very modern, high-tech, high-performance long-sleeve tee)
Not shown here: the skeleton of an Indian literally dumped in the corner of a display case. Too creepy to document.
|OK, this car wasn't in the museum, but it might as well have been.|
|In one second he will fall off that stone wall. I still chuckle thinking about it.|
|Tropic of Capricorn monument|
|Tropic of Capricorn sun dial. As you can clearly tell, we were there at 3:27 PM.|
|It looked OK to us.|
|I'm not sure what naturally occurring dye is used to color the hot pink blanket in the lower left.|
|We made meaningful connections with the local peoples.|
"Hello. Where you from? You got a coin for me?"
After we'd had our fill of Humahuaca, we drove south to Tilcara. We arrived without a hotel reservation and spent some time navigating the narrow one-way streets in search of a place to stay. We ended up at AguaCanto with another spectacular view.
|Jesse sat here.|
|While Dave took 10,000 pictures of these flowers.|
Sadly, this was the beginning of Fatty D's (our Nikon D-90) inevitable decline, and we ended up losing all of the photos we took with him this day. At the time of writing, Fatty D is convalescing in the Nikon repair shop in Buenos Aires, at great emotional and monetary expense to us.
We woke up early and headed back south, past Purmamarca (hissing as we drove by) and up another winding mountain pass.
|We were really high! (altitude, people, in altitude)|
|Brian's & Lucy's favorite food, as far as the eye could see.|
We pulled over by a salt-mining operation, where we tried to lift salt bricks, posed with shovels in huge mountains of salt and perused the salt llamas carved by local artisans. We tasted the salt. It was salty.
|The photos were really great.|
We spent a good hour having fun with perspective. Here are the few shots we took with Clemmie (Fatty D's orange, pocket-sized little sister):
|Fatty D. He looks so healthy there. |
Lord only knows what was going on in his insides....
We had some great photos. They are gone.
Our original plan had been to overnight in San Antonio de los Cobres but let's just say there wasn't much going on to keep us there. So we decided to push through the rest of the drive back to Salta. We were following the path taken by the famous Tren de los Nubes (Train of the Clouds). This tourist excursion touts itself as "the greatest train in the world." The round-trip journey takes 15 hours (departing at 7am and returning at midnight) and costs $120 USD. To put that in perspective, it took us 3 hours to drive it one way.
First we visited the famous Viaduct, a massive engineering accomplishment that marks the end (or the mid-point, since it's a round trip) of the Tren de los Nubes. Click here for some photos. The drive was spectacular, although to be honest we had been seeing a lot of similar scenery and felt a little jaded. Or maybe I just tell myself that since we lost all of our photos.
Towards the end of the drive, the road was closed for construction and we were diverted into a dry river bed. If you don't believe me, check out our GPS!
|Driving in the (mostly) dry riverbed.|
Who knew the Gol was a car-boat!?!
We spent the night in Salta, and then since we still had another day left of our car rental, drove out to the lush, green suburb of San Lorenzo. Why did none of the guidebooks tell us about this place? We drove past adorable B&Bs, impressive mansions, flowering trees (Salta is a very dry, dusty city) and shady hiking trails. We even each had our dream meals there!
|For Dave, a proper steak and eggs: a 16 oz sirloin with one fried egg, onions, red peppers and thinly sliced fried potatoes|
|For J, a big make-your-own salad with chicken, hearts of palm, avocado, tomatoes, olives and more! |
Yes I am leaning in to kiss it. We hadn't had fresh veggies in a few days.
All in all, a fabulous road trip that we highly recommend! LAN is opening up a new flight route from Lima to Salta, so the trip from New York just got a whole lot easier.