Around Salta

27 Apr 2004 11:09 am

Salta must be the loveliest city in all of Argentina. In northern Argentina, Salta enjoys a warm climate and green green GREEN mountains all around. The thing to do here is get in a car and drive around the country side. Nicole (Seattle) and I hired a little white chevy for 5 days and SURPRISE, it was standard shift so I, of course, was relieved of driving duty (sorry Nicole).

Nicole and the Chevy in Parque Nacional de los Cardones

Giant cardones en route to Cachi

First stop the town of Cachi. En route to Cachi, as we climbed and climbed the green mountains gave way to Cactus forests. So beautiful and so much like parts of the south western U.S. In fact, Nicole and I couldn’t stop talking about the similarities to southern Utah and the Four Corners. Cachi but is a great little Spanish colonial town and is remarkable clean, even the gutters in the street are spotless. For dinner we enjoyed great local food (empanadas, ,humitas, caseras) and drank bad wine from a box. In our hostel the furniture was made of cactus wood. A parrot hung out in the courtyard eating grapes from a big old grape vine.

Day 2 we drove (Nicole drove, I sat) all day on windy dirt roads through dry rural areas to Cafayate. The only dwelings we passed were simple mud brick constructions. The people around here look to be so poor. Sometimes I feel like such a spoiled and naïve American. We picked up an old guy hitchhiking and he made a short prayer when I got in the back seat.

Quebrada de Cafayate

Amphitheater along Quebrada de Cafayate

Late in the afternoon we arrived in Cafayate which is famous for it’s wine. We stopped in a winery highly recommended by Lonely Planet. Our guide was a strange and rather afeminate man who makes me think of that Martin short character from the first Beverly Hills Cop movie, except this guy had very fuzzy teeth. Yuck. And the wine was quite poor. Thanks Lonely Planet. Cafayate wasn’t so remarkable but the road north from Cafayate, certainly is. Route 68, the Quebrada de Cafayate, winds through dramatic Utah like scenery. Pink and red mountains carved by wind and water. Think Arches and Canyonlands. We stopped for the night in San Salvadore de Jujuy. The most redeeming thing about Jujuy us the restaurant Route 9. Route 9 is full of locals eating yummy local dishes like such as lamb or chicken stew.

North of Jujuy, we drove through the little towns of Purmamarca and Tilacara and spent the night in Humahuaca. Great scenery the entire time.

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