Quebrada de Humahuaca. Hayley and I ventured away from Tilcara for a five hour walk up into the hills to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) one of many in Argentina. After complaning about the cold for the past few weeks this heat has been a bit of a shock to the system. By the time we made it down into the gorge, we had to paddle in the freezing stream to cool down. We got back into town and the three boys in our hostel, two Dutch, one Belgium, had offered to cook a parilla (barbeque) for us all. So we came back to find a chicken marinading in the fridge, salads and home made salsa being prepared. They’d also managed to find one of the gigantic five litre bottles of cheap red plonk they sell here. So some fire, a few card games, drinking games, a laptop full of music and much wine later it made for a fairly amusing evening. In the spirit of sharing and experiencing new cultures, I learnt an hysterical drinking game called “Roxanne”. It’s very simple, you put on Roxanne by the Police and all the girls have to drink everytime they sing ‘Roxanne’ and the boys drink every time they sing ‘red light’. Play the song and you’ll get the idea!
The next day Hayley and I headed further up the Quebrada to Humahuaca and got ourselves a little attic style bedroom in a hostel on the outskirts of town. We were sharing it with two lovely Dutch girls, Patti and Pia who, to Hayley’s relief, were also going on up to cross the border into Bolivia so she wouldn’t have to go it alone. The four us explored the town which is full of cobbled streets, a beautiful white church and bizarre statue reaching up into the sky. We also climbed upto a mirador behind the town to see the views and the colourful rock formations surrounding the valley. Cultural bit and sightseeing done, we went out to feast on empanadas, pizza and wine!
Yesterday I bade farewell to the girls and headed off on a six hour round trip to the decidedly remote village of Iruya with an Israeli guy from the hostel (seriously Argentina is full of Israelis!).
It was definitely worth the journey for the views alone. The road continues up the Quebrada and then starts to climb past tiny farms and stone corrals for sheep up to a pass at 4000m. (Coca leaves on standby). Then as you come over the top you see a long valley stretching out before you with steep rocky sides, green plateaus and the dirt road tightly zigzaging all the way down below. Two hours later as we rounded the side of a cliff face, the tiny village of Iruya appeared nestled into the hillside, its white church and blue steeple just catching the sunlight. After exploring for a while we had lunchÂ and a cold beer on the terrace of a hotel overlooking the valley, watching two condors circling gracefully above us.
I returned back to Iruya on my own and was having a short snooze in my attic bedroom, and comtemplating whether I could be bothered to cook the uninspiring ravioli I’d brought, when a head popped up from the room below. This was Florien, half Austrian, half French who said hi, I’m about to start cooking some steaks, potatoes and salad in about an hour or so, do you fancy some dinner? Well what could I say, if people will insist on cooking for me…actually I did help, I chopped things and fried the potatoes. We ended up spending the night drinking wine (this is becoming a habit I realise) and chatting to the hostal owner and another guy, Lucas, from Buenos Aires. Went to bed at about 11.30pm tired but happy!
I have about another week left in Argentina and although I’m looking forward to Brazil it is going to be so hard to leave this country. Being able to speak the language has made such a difference, the people are wonderful, the scenery is constantly changing and breathtaking, the buses are comfy and punctual, the weather is lovely (at the moment). the Malbec is rich and dusky and the meat is unsurpassed. I may be leaving soon but Argentina has certainly not seen the last of me!