A Dustland Fairytale

“Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.”
Charles Lindbergh 

We’ve just drive for two days north from Salta into Bolivia. We stopped en route at a little town called Tupiza in the Desert Mountains. The drive presented us with the most incredible views of the Argentinean painted mountains and the similar landscape of south Bolivia, dotted of course with packs of llamas and numerous cacti! The iconic Bolivian women here are so fantastically photogenic but unfortunately do not seem at all agreeable to having their photos taken which is a shame. I’ll see what I can do without offending anybody!

The landscape is so ridiculously dusty that if you open the truck window for a second a huge cloud of dust will immediately fight its way in! We stopped for lunch yesterday in a little mud-brick hamlet in the middle of the desert. There were llama skins and bones sporadically scattered around the place. Apparently llamas provide the staple part of their diets. There was even a little school there! I find it impossible to imagine how people can live in such conditions! The Papua Guinea villages, although primitive, had an abundance of fresh water and fertile turf. Compare that to a barren desert with only a small well in the centre!

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Here’s a glimpse of the Argentinian ‘painted mountains’.

IMG_0908At the Bolivian border…

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When the Stars Go Blue/ Town Called Malice

“Make the most out of tonight and worry about it all tomorrow.”

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Salta seems, in retrospect, a complete blur. Our first night at Loki Hostel ended fairly messily due to the cheap drinks and fantastic bar staff. Our group of 35 made our way into town where we all proceeded to go slightly crazy. A couple of us joined an al fresco salsa session and I then proceeded to join a local band playing in a bar! However an overly friendly dog about the size of a great dane at one point decided my arm was a chew toy and despite my cries of “ayudarme” (help me) the locals just found it hilarious. My toe nail being split in half by the rarity of a clumsy argentinian was the last straw. I headed home at 4:00 a good few hours before the others returned!

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The drunken frivolities did not end there. Much of the group decided the best way to beat their hangover was to start drinking again as soon as they woke up. Here is the result:

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For the rest of us the day revolved around eating, sleeping and watching Django! That being said, the staff decided that evening was the opportune moment for a ‘beer pong’ tournament. That night therefore proceeded in a similar fashion to the last.

The downside became immediately apparent the next morning. Amy, Lilya and I caught the bus into Salta to explore the town in the daylight. However after numerous empanadas and a trip up a cable car to see a view of the city, the state of my head became too much to bear so I split from the group to head home, getting lost for a couple of hours in the process!

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Cheese empanadas in a little cafe near San Jose square, Salta. Yum 🙂

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View from the mountain overlooking Salta.

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Just an example of the beautiful architecture in Salta. This is the church of San Fransisco

 

Creature Fear

“Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business.”
Dave Barry

Last night we were attempting to finding a service station where we could set up camp but became stuck driving through a limbo of wilderness and national parks. Eventually, realising that we no longer had time to cook a meal for 36 people, we pulled over at what I can only describe as a roadside shack, selling some rather dubious Argentinian food. The ‘chef’ had clearly never seen so many customers in his life!
We struggled for another couple of hours in the truck before pulling into a petrol station at around midnight.

We were not alone.

There was a little, yellow, vindictive looking scorpion staking his claim to the ladies toilets. In addition to this, a squeal from one of the girls tents this morning announced the arrival of a new bed mate – see the photos below.

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We’ve now settled on the outskirts of Salta in North Argentina. For the first time we have the luxury of a hostel dorm room with showers and a loo that you can flush! The camping endurance test has finally come to an end. Our last official stop before our ‘bush camp’ was in a little town called San Ignacio Mini, home to some fairly spectacular ruins of a Jesuit settlement. A handful of the more enthusiastic in our group headed out at sunrise before our long drive commenced.

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