Saturday, May 14, 2011

More from our NorthWestern Tour...

Some more of Humahuaca...
And then the harrowing bus trip to Iruya, up and down hairpin mountain turns, looking down from the bus over cliffsides and mountains...
So beautiful though...
Our bus stopped here so the driver could get out and smoke, and others could make offerings to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) with rocks or water as you say "kushi kushi"... I'm not sure what that means.
Finally, after three and a half hours we made it the 50 or so kilometers to Iruya
A teeny mountain town, nestled in the middle of nowhere.
We loved the cobblestone streets and mud buildings... and the kitties, of course!
The church seems to be the main attraction in town.
And one of our favorite finds were the local herbs. Here is Arca yuyo tea. Tastes a bit like eucalyptus and is good for the tummy!
Here is a far-off view of Iruya (pronounces ear-oosh-uh)
And the bus ride back, through Humahuaca and down to Salta...
Jon, as Zoolander... We found some treasures that various artisans were selling on the steps of the monument before we left Humahuaca... he picked up this gem- a sea wolf tooth made into a necklace by a very sweet Uruguayan couple!
From Salta we caught a bus to Cafayate, a small vineyard town in the mountains between Salta and Tucuman (sort-of)...
The views of the landscape here are gorgeous, and so varied!
We found a little hostel on the edge of town, the Morada, and ate a lovely dinner of stir-fried veggies on the roof.
Mountains surround Cafayate, and the views are incredible here.
We also found a few other things we liked...
We rented bikes and biked up the road through vineyards...
And we stopped along the way to see 1200 year-old cave paintings made by the Suri people that used to live here! Can you see the llama on the right?
Our final destination was the bodega Finca de las Nubes, but they were closed... still, the views from the top of the valley were gorgeous!
We found Queso de Cabra (local goat cheese) and membrillo, and never looked back. We have had it every day since then!
We also took a tour of the Quebradas de las conchas (which means canyons of the shells, and is so named because many marine fossils and shells are found throughout them).
The desert landscape, punctuated by these gorgeous stripey mountains is gorgeous!
and llamas of course...
They weren't so interested in being cuddled, though we did give it a good try...
This sign is a native saying that I loved. It translates: For he that looks without SEEING, the earth is dirt and nothing else. Beautiful, right?
We toured Etchart bodega, the oldest one in Cafayate, born in 1850! Here they are emptying the grape skins which have been filtered out of the red wine... they will be used to fertilize the fields.
Their wines were delicious!
Back in Cafayate we found this cool earthen building...
We've been enjoying these lovely local papinas, a potato relative. Apparently there are over 60 varieties!
Lovely Cafayate...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh my goodness... what happened?

So, obviously I have been SO BAD about posting... it has been almost a month! I am sorry!
It has been an exciting one though, and we've been learning lots, taking it all in.
We leave to come home in 8 days... my gosh, where did the time go?
I will certainly fill you in on all the details soon, but for now let me leave you with a few pictures from current times.
Jon and I are traveling in Northern Argentina.
We're in Salta right now; we just got in at about 10:30 last night, and we're on our way to Cafayate this morning. Here's a shot from our trip from Salta to Humahuaca:
We went to Iruya, which was amazingly beautiful, but freaked me completely out being so very far away from all the people I love with no way to contact you... even though I don't talk to you all the time, I didn't realize it makes me feel so much better just to know that I CAN if I want to... We had an amazing time in Humahuaca first, which is stunning.
There is a type of mountain within the mountain ranges here in the north called the Quebradas de las Conchas... they look like an afghan I remember Mugsy having when we were little... You really can't see the colors so well in this photo, but they are big stripes and triangles of pink, red, white, blue, yellow, violet... seven colors, apparently.
(Quebradas are pronounced kay-bra-duhs... and Concha, out of context, is slang for vagina or vulva or something... all I know is you're really NOT supposed to say it. Apparently, though, when referring to these mountains it's a-ok.) We visited some amazing mountains, some ruins,
went hiking around... we stood on top of a 4,000 meter high mountain peak (the bus stopped there for 5 minutes so the driver could get out and smoke on the way to Iruya).
In Iruya the whole town is nestled in the middle of NOWHERE- I kid you not. Nowhere. And it's on a steep (mostly desert) hillside- so beautiful! (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from Iruya on my computer yet, so I'll have to post them later...)
Just walking up the hill makes me so out of breath because of the altitude... it was strange to have my legs feel fine, but my lungs were like "holy heck, what are you DOING to me?"
We had planned to go farther North to the border of Bolivia to a tiny town called Yavi, but we met some new friends named Luli and Nico, travelers from Buenos Aires (Argentines who are also fluent in English), and they recommended that we take our time left and head South to some of the other towns they found amazing.
Since we had so many things in common with them (like the fact that we like to seek out physical and natural world adventures in small towns rather than visit cities and stay in crazy busy hostels etc) we decided to change up our plans.
And here we are! We will go to Cafayate today, and stay for a couple days. Apparently we can rent bikes there and bike to waterfalls, indigenous paintings, and vineyards... and there are amazing Quebradas to see too.
And then we head to Tafi for a day before going on to Tucuman to catch the bus back to Buenos Aires. We come home so soon!
I can't wait to see you all!