Sunday, December 10, 2017

Argentina to Chile, December 9, 2017

We had another early start because we had a really long drive ahead.  Our goal was San Pedro de Atacama, which at lower altitude would be nice and warm.  If we didin't make it, we were looking at a high altitude bush camp with possible minus temperatures!  In a tent, that's not too nice!

The scenery has been unbelievable along the way-

We stopped at Salinas Grandes (3550m) which boasts a dried up salt lake that's 525 square kilometers.  It was nothing after having visited Uyuni in Bolivia-

It did seem in the middle of nowhere-

The crust is up to half a meter thick so the booths and huts are made entirely of salt-

We continued on to Susques for lunch.  It's like a town out of a Wild West movie-

  The cemetery- 

is well cared for.  The gate was locked and a man in a nearby office told me I could find the woman with the key if I walked two blocks this way, then left another block or too.  Luckily I could peek over the fence-

Surprisingly I had a great Milanese for lunch, it's like schnitzel, and we carried on.  More great scenery-

We crossed the border into Chile at Paso de Jama (4230 m) where we got the Argentinian departure stamp and Chilean entry stamp in the same building.  All our bags had to be X rayed and the truck was searched.  We lost our eggs and fresh vegetables.  Dario's IPhone was in the charging bay on the truck and was stolen by a border guard!  We have to be so careful.  I'm petrified I'm going to lose my IPad.  My life is on it and I'm not sure what I'd do!

We're at the Argentinian border, entering Chile, with Bolivia on the top left-

We kept driving and came to dormant Volcán Llullaillaco (6723m).  It's massive-

We had to stop on the highway after a long decent because the brakes were smoking and stinking.  We sat for about half an hour while they cooled, then limped to town.  We drove around the town, trying to get down the right street to the campground.  The streets were packed with cars and pedestrians.  For such a small place, it sure attracts the tourists.  Some corners are too sharp for the truck to make the turn.  Ninka had been trying to contact the campground for a few days but they weren't answering.  We finally found it and she knocked on the door - no answer!  She climbed on the truck to tell us we were going to have to leave town to bushcamp when the gates opened!  Jono backed the truck in a narrow gate and we set up our tents in the dark.  Supper was at 10!

Looking forward to a nice relaxing day in adobe Disneyland!  


Friday, December 8, 2017

Salta, Argentina, December 8, 2017

What a lazy day!  I had a great sleep, then wandered around the Plaza looking for people from my group.  I found Jan and Richard so we shared a beer.  

Later I went to La Iglesia San Francisco.  It's very unusual colors - magenta and yellow-

The altar-

The duomo-

There's this gigantic Jesus on a cross hanging off the front arch-

Side altars=

There's a garden off to the side-

Tonight I went to a peña.  It's a restaurant that has live entertainment - Argentinian folk music, starting at 7 pm and finishing around 4 am.  I would certainly have to change my lifestyle if I lived here.  I was the only person in the restaurant from 7:30 until about 9.  Then, between 9 and 10, the restaurant became half full.  They eat so late and it's not just adults, it's little kids too.  I heard 3 acts while there and they just kept getting better and better.  The first was a young man singing and playing the guitar-

The second was a woman singing and a man accompanying her.  They were very good-

The thrid was an awesome tenor-

I left at 10:30 because we have an early start tomorrow - 6 am and walking home, found the restaurants packed and the Plaza, where I live, bursting with people.  The Christmas decorations were lit up today and it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception so people were wearing rosaries and the town shut down around 2 pm until tonight.  Crazy!

We're trying to make San Pedro de Atacama, Chile tomorrow so we don't have to camp in minus temperatures.  It's going to be a long day!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Salta, Argentina, December 7, 2017

This morning we could see the actual size of the largest swimming pool in South America.  Unfortunately there's no water in it and there is only 2 months of the year.  I'd think there would be now because  it's summertime but there were many men working on it last night so I guess it's not ready.  I can't imagine how much pee would be in it if it were packed with swimmers

I decided to go to the city centre and get a hotel for a couple of nights.  I took my huge backpack because almost all my clothes needed washing.  Hugo, Weibke and I took the bus but we had to walk a few blocks, quite a few!

More Chinglish, I guess it's Argentinglish. It just amazes me that with all the translating services on the internet that this kind of thing still happens-

After checking out a couple of hostels, then a couple of hotels, I decided to splurge so am staying at the Victoria Plaza Hotel, right on the square.  My room is at the top right corner with a deck.  I feel like a princess-

The view from my deck across Plaza 9 de Julio looking towards-

Catedral Basilica-

which is pink-

The altar-

 has a gigantic sun around Jesus.  Mass was in progress-

Many people were lined up to visit, pray and touch this side altar-

The floor inside and out is 3D tiles.  Glad I wasn't drunk trying to walk on it-

Next to the Catedral Basilica is the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology.  Mount Llullaillaco, at 6739 meters, is where 3 mummified children were found in 1999.  One of the Inca's most important rituals was the Capacocha (moral obligation) ceremony where one or more beautiful and physically perfect children were taken to the main plaza in Cusco and presented in front of pictures of the creator god.  After animal sacrifices to god, imaginary marriages of the children to the Chiefs were performed to create bonds in the huge territory.  Then the children walked around the square twice,  They were then taken to the summit of Llullaillaco, given chicha (maize alcohol) until they passed out, and buried alive with all the ritual objects important for the ceremony.  They were not thought to die, but to live with ancestors and protect the villages and people.  

The Lightening Girl was 6 years old, found seated with legs bent.  She's wearing typical Inca clothing and buried with her were gold, silver and seashell statuettes as well as ceramics, food and textiles.  It seems that after she was buried, a lightning bolt hit her because one half of her body is burned-

The Boy was about 7 and was sitting on a grey tunic.  He had short hair and a white feather ornament held by wool, wrapped around his head.  His skull was slightly modified.  He was accompanied by a miniature llama caravan of finely dressed men, a typical male job.  He is the only mummy on display-

The third child is The Maiden who is 15.  She too is wearing a typical Inca outfit but has gold and silver pins on her chest and other ornaments made of bone and silver.  She still had red pigment on her face and cocoa leaves in her mouth!  She was accompanied by a white feather headdress-

Of course pictures weren't allowed so these images are from the brochure.  It was a bit disappointing after seeing all the mummies we saw in the cemetery in Peru.

Plaza 9 de Julio was packed with all kinds of beauty booths.  This is not normal!  Today is the last day of school until March and so it's dress up time-

Even massages were possible-

Peñas are Argentinian folk shows that start at 9 pm and end around 4 am.  Often there's a cover charge and then you eat and drink.  This one reminds me of Nashville-

I visited the Pajcha Museo de Arte Etnico Americanoo which is a private collection in a converted house.  There wasn't much I hadn't seen before, considering my winter in Central America and the fact we've travelled from the north, but the thing the most interesting was that it's a private collection. 

This pendant is made of gold, malachite, silver and copper.  It's impossible to see with my shitty camera but there is a face not only in the middle - the red eyes, but above.  They had a magnifying glass on it to see it better-


A funeral mask-

Sticks and ball used to play hockey-

Imagine wearing this heavy jewelery which was part of the dowry-

Saint James is the patron saint of cattlemen.  He protects the animals from harm-

When the Catholic, Spanish colonists arrived, they tried their best to convert the Incas but of course were met with much reluctance.  Inca artists incorporated their beliefs in their work.  Jesus is an Inca-

with a feather headdress.  I'm sure the artist was thinking "screw you Catholics!"-

The Virgin Mary with an Inca face-

and she's often seen with a candelabra in her right hand-

In a couple of churches in villages north of Salta, Uquia being one of our them,  they found paintings of angels with guns.  The curator wouldn't give his opinion but the hypocrisy seems obvious to me.  The Spaniards, preaching Christianity, came onto the continent with guns, forcing their way of life and religion on the occupants.  The same has happened all over the world and still is happening today, all in the name of religion-

Walking home, there were 2 awesome musicians playing in the square-

I wanted to taste some Argentinian beef, to see if all the fuss is true.  I wanted a filet mignon and my waiter said that's what I'd get so.....

When you order meat, all you get is meat so I ordered a side salad that came with ten, repeat ten packets of salt-

I didn't get filet mignon but ended up with a half order, yes this is a half order of steak.  It was very tender and delicious-

It was cooking on a platter with coals underneath-

They brought the wrong salad so corrected their mistake.  Salad completo includes pickled beets, boiled potato and egg as well as shredded carrot, tomato and lettuce.  The only dressing available is balsamic vinegar and olive oil, which is fine with me-

I ended up taking all of the salad and half of the meat home for lunch tomorrow.

I spent a couple of hours on my deck, listening to the music in the park and drinking awesome red wine!  Looking forward to tomorrow in Paradise!