Monday, March 9, 2009

Salta II - Quebrada de Humahuaca

After the 14 hour epic excursion to the altiplano Saturday, Sunday was a much needed sleep-in (relative term after 4am bedtime and 10am start) and rest day. Sundays are taken pretty seriously in this part of the world, and pretty much everything of note bar a few restaurants was closed for the day. Thankfully an exception was made for Salta's premier museum, the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM). MAAM is most famous for the Llullaillaco children, young Incans sacrificed to the mountain gods 500 years ago and discovered by a combined mountaineering/archaeological team in the 90s.

It's one thing to read about child-sacrifice but quite another to see the amazingly preserved (they were left at 6730M of altitude) bodies and above all faces of little kids, faces you could also see today in the surrounding town. My friend Brendan wrote of the impact stories of Incan child sacrifice had from the perspective of a father of two school-aged girls, also noting some of the more recent (if less physically violent) cruelty the church inflicted on young girls and their families. The impact is no less on a father-of-none ! Easily the best museum of the trip - notwithstanding the triple-priced entry ticket for non-Argentineans (grrrrr).

Monday morning was another 7am start for the second epic mini-bus tour of the area around Salta. The make up of this group was quite different from that of the Saturday tour - apart from an Irish couple, everyone else on the bus was Argentinian, all of them (apart from Salteño Fernando the guide) from Buenos Aires. I took advantage to tune my ear to the peculiar dialect spoken by Porteños and shamefully kept my nationality (and supposed proficiency in the English language) hidden from the Irish pair until quite late in the trip !

Monday's Bus is full of locals ...

The highlight of this tour was visiting the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca, a UNESCO heritage listed gorge running about 100 km from the town of San Salvador de Jujuy (itself 2 hours north of Salta) to the eponymous Humahuaca. First stop was the little market town of Purmamarca, the last stop on Saturday's tour. The light was a little better this time, showing off the towns famous backdrop, the Cerro de los Siete Colores:

Seven Colour Hill

The gorge (Quebrada) is famous for multi-coloured mountains and picturesque villages, and didn't disappoint on either count. Unfortunately though stops were in towns rather than on the roadside so photography was mostly of the through the bus window variety:

Lunch was in the village itself, where it appears a deal has been established to have tours conducted by local males. As we approached the bus was waved down and a local lad hoppped in and introduced himself to our guide - and the rest of us. You can guess which one he is in the photo below:

The town itself is a pleasant combination of colonial architecture and adobe streets - with a super-tacky memorial to the indigenous people (the vast majority of the population up here) dominating the main square.

Momumento a la Independencia

Humahuaca Markets

Remains of Iglesia Santa Barbara - destroyed for the monument

The 'up yours' cactus

Ancient Incan Photography Company

At the Artists Palette

After brief stop for the tiny but pretty one church town of Uquia, the bus, by popular vote, deviated from the planned Jujuy town tour and expressway home, opting instead for the picturesque single lane (but two way) jungle mountain road back to Salta.

As always, a few more photos from Salta, including many more bus-window snaps of the colourful gorge and mountains, are here.
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1 comment:

Lisa said...

my god, the photos of the (sorry can't pronounce name) children are truly devastating...eerily untouched by the ravages of time!