Argentina 16


On the 2nd of March, I stayed for a day to simply enjoy the tranquil village of Cochi, Argentina (plus I am staying at a fantastic hotel, which is costing me only $30.00 per night).  Why are villages which are only reachable by dirt roads, usually nicer than places that are connected by pavement?  I will apologize in advance, as there are many pictures on this page and it will take a while to download.


Not a bad place, for only $30.00 per night!
The hotel sits on a knoll overlooking the village of Cochi.

I spent half the day sipping "Agua Con Gas", sitting in the central plaza and various street corners just watching people....

Got to love the kids.......
Typical street in Cochi....

I feel like I am walking through an issue of the National Geographic's Magazine......

Wish I spoke Spanish well enough to be able to chat with people like this.......

The stories she could tell......

I can't explain it, but there is something in me that just loves the colonial environment....

I feel at home....

I feel at peace....

I feel relaxed....

And I think it makes me understand my own personal values much better....


On Saturday, the 3rd of March, I force myself to leave Cochi and head towards Salta, Argentina.  The road is dirt and pavement for the 100 mile ride.  As soon as you leave Cochi, the road travels through Parque Nacional Los Cardones.  It felt a lot like Arizona.



For 40 miles I took no pictures.

The road climbed over 10,000 feet, and it was thick fog and drizzle, with huge drop offs, so I stayed focused on the mud and making it out safely.

The sun came back out, as I descended below 8,000 feet.

A church in the distance.

Even on dirt roads, out in the center of nowhere, there seems to be a church every 10 to 15 miles.

A bridge on the way to Salta.

For a few miles the drop off is vertical.  Where the car is, the road is under cut into the hillside.



After 100 miles of fun riding, I am back in the traffic of Salta, Argentina.
Maybe something like this could be an option for future travels.
Salta has been the first city since Lima and Cuzco Peru, which had balconies like this one.
The main Plaza in Salta has many restaurants with outdoor dining.
The 3 riders on bicycles are from Germany.

When my rear gets sore, I will think of these 3 pedaling their way around South America.


The 4th of March I spend just knocking about Salta, Argentina


I took the tram to the top of the mountain which overlooks Salta.
View of city street, which the tram passes over.

Salta is one of the larger cities of Northwestern Argentina.



When I arrived in Salta, I was so excited about talking to Sandy on Skype, that I headed directly to the nicest hotel in town, which I knew would have internet in the rooms.  The guide book stated it was only $65.00 per night, so I entered it into the GPS and went directly there.  I walked in and asked for a room for the next 2 nights.  When I was told that it was $110.00 a night, I could not say no.  I had no desire to get back on the bike and look for other accommodations.  This was the reading area for my room and 2 other rooms.  Living the good life in Salta!



On the 5th of March, I drive from Salta, north to Jujuy and Purmamarca.  This was the most unusual road I have seen.  It is about 50 miles long, but it is only 1 lane, but has two way traffic.  And it is a major road from Salta to Jujuy!  I was happy that I was on a motorcycle, instead of in a car!  Incidentally, the Argentines drive it like it is a race course!



The single lane road travels through many types of landscapes.

Again, the entire area is very similar to Costa Rica.......

A nice peaceful lake.....

And up into the pines....
Then through a subtropical region....

All in less than 50 miles....

The highway sentries....
And back to the traffic of Jujuy....
   

This part of Argentina is amazing.  You travel through subtropical areas and then come around a bend in the road and all of a sudden you are in desert mountains.  The environment changes between these 2 different zones in less than 1/2 mile!  This is the small village of Tumbaya, which is less than 30 miles north of Jujuy.



And this is a typical street in Purmamarca, Argentina, which I plan to call home for next 3 days.



This red mountain is visible from everywhere in the small village of Purmamarca.



My new home in the Andes....
It seems that kids like ice cream wherever you go.....

After checking in at the hotel I ride north through the "Quebrada de Humahuaca" Valley, to the village of Humahuaca.  This entire valley was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  About 12 miles north of Purmamarca I am delayed by an indigenous road block.  Many cars and busses had been waiting for over an hour to pass this point.  I waited about 10 minutes, then they let the cars through, and then closed the road again.  Apparently the protest was held due to the fact that the government has not paid a certain group of workers for a month or so.



A church in another small village....

This was a school building, which had me a little confused.  Here I am, in Humahuaca, Argentina, and the small print on the building says "Republica of Bolivia".  I assume that maybe this area use to be part of Bolivia, but you would think sooner or later they would re-do the sign to read "Republic of Argentina"!



I loved the streets in Humahuaca....
A view of the village, from a hill top....
Typical street in Humahuaca....
I spent an hour riding up and down the streets of this village....
This was a street with a name....

Although it was a "One Way" street....

On my way back to Purmamarca, the highway was blocked again....

And again, I was lucky as I had to wait only 10 minutes....


On Tuesday the 6th, the plan is a simple ride west, back into the higher elevations of the Andes.  The hotel is at 8,000 feet.  The Salina Grandes is a large salt flat which sits at about 11,000 feet, but to get there I have to clear a pass which is almost 14,000 feet.  I love this kind of day..... a simple ride in the Andes!  The climb in the picture below is almost a 3,000 feet, and it only takes a very few miles.



The road is so cool, it almost looks like a Lexus commercial (computer generated!)



I saw wild asses frequently on the ride to the salt flat.
And Llama's....
Everything seemed either white or blue.
All work is done by hand.  No automated equipment to pack the salt.
Some areas of the salt flat had a pattern.
Fun....
Me and the beast....
This is where they cut the bricks out of the salt to build homes, shrines and tables.
Tables....

You can easily see the stratification of the salt layers, when cut into blocks.

A shrine made of salt....
A home made of salt....
A creative way to heat your water....
If any readers think they live in a remote location, this would be hard to beat for "REAL" desolation....
Ran into 3 Brazilian's heading to Cuzco, Peru.
More fun roads....

Even though Purmamarca is remote and very small, there were still excellent restaurants.



This is the wine cellar of the same restaurant. 

Imagine trying to get a permit to build a place like this in the USA, with a staircase like this.



After lunch I rode in 1st gear for about 1 hour just looking at the neat rock formations.



The lines of demarcation between the different colors is amazing.



No matter how humble their homes are, it seems that almost all homes have DirecTV.



Really enjoyed Purmamarca....
My hotel in Purmamarca.

I am not roughing it!


That's it through March 6, 2007


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