20.04.2008 - 23.04.2008 20 °C
Hey, don't falter, you know we ought to be together
Strange, I saw ya, I sorta knew it was for ever
Please, stay with me
and never miss a chance to kiss me
babe, I love yah
when you're with me it´s always summer
Don´t Falter by Mint Royale
Hello from sunny Argentina. It feels like we are on the home straight of our travels, with around 6 weeks to go. This is what we have been up to since I last wrote.
Sunday April 20th
Our alarm went off at 8.30am and after breakfast at the restaurant next to our hostal we went to our tour office to meet Mario, our driver and tour guide for the day. We headed south of Tupiza to a narrow gorge in a huge rock formation, which had a tunnel passing through it. We then headed to Canon Del Duende and went for a quick walk through it. The scenery was very cinematic, total cowboy country.
We headed out to the river - Rio San Juan Del Oro, although the river was pretty dry due to 2 months of no rain in the area. We had a picnic lunch under beautiful old trees, gazing out at the stunning rock formations. After lunch we headed out to see 4 rock formations - Puerta del Diablo, Valle De Los Machos, El Canon del Inca and Valle De Los Machos, featuring phallic type rocks.
We had a rather surreal experience at Puerto del Diablo. We were driving along in the 4x4 with the windows down when I thought I heard someone shouting. Mario did as well and suddenly out of the desert ran a tall guy looking a bit battered and bruised. He came over to the 4x4 looking tired, exhausted and somewhat confused. He told us he couldnt remeber how he got here, how long he had been here or even where he was. He looked like he had been out hiking and fallen as he had cuts on his arms, legs and head. We took him back to Tupiza and dropped him at the police station next to the hospital. He obviously had concussion and temporary memory loss (in our opinion anyway). He didnt even know he was in Bolivia. We looked through his digital camera to see if there was any indication if he was travelling with anyone but the pictures seemed to indicate that he was travelling alone. He was from Switzerland and he was called Bernard. At first I was reluctant to leave him alone with the police, but later I realised there was nothing more we could do. He had no idea what hostal he was staying at, where he had been or where he was going. He could speak Spanish and we had to leave it to the police to see if they could find where he was staying and the hospital to calm him down and rehydrate him.
After that strange experience we headed out to some absolutely stunning rock formations called Quebrada Palala and Comino Al Sillar. The rocks were different colours due to the different minerals found in the area and looked fantastic from our high viewpoint.
At night we had a quiet one ahead of our 4am bus to Argentina!
Sunday April 21st
The day started at 3am as our alarm went off. We left at 3.15am and walked to the local bus station. It was surprisingly busy for the time of day and after a little confusion we got on a local bus to the border, where we would then cross to Argentina and catch a nice luxury bus to Salta.
It was cold, damn cold. Bolivia is so high above sea level that during the day the sun burns fiercely and you really have to cover up. At night, it is freezing and you really have to cover up for different reasons! The bus trip was just over 2 hours along a bumpy, dusty road. Along with the bumps the bus didnt have any heating, so we didnt get any sleep.
We arrived at the border town of Villazon and got out into the coldest temperatures we have experienced on our trip. We found our bus company and they sorted us with tickets from the Argentinian side to Salta. After exchanging what was left of our Bolivian currency we went through passport control and jumped a cab to the bus terminal. We thought we had 90 minutes to kill until our bus but someone reminded us that Argentina is an hour forward. We gor some snacks, checked in our bags and jumped on our nice warm bus with fully reclining seats and slept for a while.
We arrived in Salta at 4pm, an hour late due to the Argentine army stopping our bus to check for anyone that might have jumped the border or smuggled stuff in. We checked into the rather nice Plaza Hotel for 90ARG per night. After a shower, we walked round the lovely 9 de Julio Plaza, with streetside bars and cafes and settled in one bar for some classic Argentine steak and a couple of beers before an early night as we were exhausted from our travels.
Tuesday April 22nd
We slept late, until 10am, so we missed breakfast at the hotel. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Vang Gogh Cafe, sitting out streetside and watching the world go by in the morning sunshine. We wandered round the city centre and felt quite glad to be back in civilisation after the Salt Flats and the cowboy town of Tupiza. We took some washing to a local laundrette and wandered around some shops but decided not to buy anything until we got to Buenos Aires.
Late afternoon we went to a bar to watch the Liverpool 1 v 1 Chelsea game over a late lunch and beers. It wasnt the best game and Chelsea were very lucky to get an equaliser late into injury time through a Riise own goal, but then again Liverpool and Chelsea are not the most entertaining teams.
At night we picked up our laundry, under 2 quid for a big bag! We then had a hotdog and sat in the local square before going to bed for another early night, watching quite a good film called Cold Mountain on cable.
Wednesday April 23rd
We woke in time for breakfast and then took the cable car up the hill overlooking Salta and the surrounding valley. We then booked bus tickets for tomorrow to Cafayate. This afternoon we will be finding a nice bar to sit in and watch the Barcelona v Manchester United ECL semi 1st leg, billed in Argentina as Messi vTevez. Lets hope Tevez wins, although I think he may start on the bench for this game. Should be 2 classic games with some amazing talent on display for both sides. Barca have Deco, Henry, Eto and Messi (with Ronaldinho injured), while United have Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Nani and Scholes, not to mention Giggs and Anderson. COME ON UNITED!
Murray and Lynn