Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cementerio de la Recoleta & Barbaro in BsAs

On the way to the airport in the morning, the taxi driver & I got to practise our feeble English & Spainsh respectively. It's wonderful how far you can get by saying "I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish :(" (in Spanish) & then proceeding to give it a go... Being such friendly people, they can't resist playing along & then offering their best shot at English when all else fails :)

Back in Buenos Aires, I checked in to my wonderfully comfortable downtown hotel & after lounging in a bath for a good while, went out walking.  The famous Cementerio de la Recoleta was remarkable & I could happily have spent quite a lot more time there, were it not for the humourless young security guard who Insisted that it was closing time.

Dinner ended up being at a *wonderful* place I found near my hotel, called Barbaro.  The decor, lighting, vibe, waiter & food combined to make me wish I was a local that could adopt the place as a favourite haunt!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Purmamarca, Humahuaca & back to Salta

For me this was the most spectacular day of the entire trip! Our accommodation in Purmamarca was great - a good night's sleep's worth a lot at this stage & then anywhere that you wake up to such a magnificent view just can't be bad...

In the morning we went for a walk around the hill behind the town - it's called 'Cerro de los siete colores', The Hill of Seven Colours. The weather & our timing for the light was perfect - my polariser worked overtime turning the pristine sky an eerie navy blue!

On our way back to the hostel we checked out the market in the plaza (just a riot of colour & beautiful artesanía) before packing up & driving north to Humahuaca. Thanks to Retha for taking over camera duty while I drove!

After wandering around Humahuaca we set off southwards again, knowing that the rental car had to be handed back in Salta before 9pm. We ended up having a ridiculously cheap but excellent lunch in Tilcara & then decided to do a hike to a "nearby" gorge known as Garganta del Diablo (that just seems to be The name to give to an impressive hole in the ground!). Turned out we could've driven there & then spent the time we had exploring the gorge, but instead we walked the 4km to get there & then didn't have much time before having to walk back & keep moving towards Salta. But it was an intriguing place - another one I'd love to get back to with more time...

Instead of taking the boring highway again, we opted for the other road (the RN9) - which ended up being an absolute marvel! Surely the most amazing road I've ever driven. It's a 2-way tarred road, just 4m wide & a seemingly endless succession of hairpin bends through a lush mountain forest. As if that's not enough, you go around a blind corner & find cows all over the show - munching their way along without a care in the world.

Progress was rather slow through this part & then we faced the added excitement of rush-hour driving in Salta, including having to negotiate their bizarre intersections that don't require anyone to stop! It was a bit of a scramble to get the car back in time, but that only made the first drink of the evening (a beer called Iguana) seem Magical :)

I'm flying back to Buenos Aires well before the others in the morning & then they're carrying on straight back to Santaigo so we had our farewell dinner tonight, at one of the swisher places in Salta. That was a real treat with superb food & a couple of bottles of a delicious cab/malbec blend. A perfect way to wrap up our adventure together - THANKS Retha, Alvaro & Daniel (& also to the other amigos involved in various parts of the trip) for letting me join you guys on a really brilliant holiday!