Our journey to Salta and Cafayate, Argentina
11.27.2009 - 12.03.2009 100 °F
From the beginning of our world trip, I wanted to visit a salt flat, a dried lake of salt, which looks like a snow covered desert. Our goal was to visit the world's largest salt flat in Bolivia, but unfortunately relations between Bolivia and the US have not been good. When we started the trip in Oct. 08, there were travel warnings for Americans to stay out of Bolivia. Now, Bolivia wants US citizens to pay $135, give bank statements from the last three months and requires a passport photo on a red background, which is absurd. I can go into all of the political reasons for this, but Dave and I simply decided that getting this visa was not worth the hassle. It is apparent to us that newly re-elected President Evo Morales does not welcome Americans right now, which is a shame, because Bolivia is a beautiful country and many of its citizens depend on tourism dollars that will no longer come from us, among others.
As a consolation we settled for the more convenient Salinas Grandes north of Salta, Argentina.
En route to the Salt Flats we drove along the road next to the Train to the Clouds.
We also passed desert filled with cactus.
And stopped in small Inca influenced villages.
The northwest of Argentina is quite rural and poor. Sugarcane and tobacco production are the main agriculture industries in the area, which help the local economy. We learned that Virginia tobacco either directly or indirectly supports about 500,000 people a year in this region.
SALTA is the capital of the Salta Province. It is a medium size city with a nice square in downtown and pedestrian shopping ways.
CAFAYATE is a quaint town about two hours south of Salta. It is influenced by Spanish architecture and ancient tribes.
Cafayate rests in a valley high above sea level and is known for its wine.
We rented bikes to ride around the wine region, not really thinking about the high altitude, dirt roads and affect of the wine. Hmmm. We really enjoyed wines from Finca Los Nubes and Domingo Hermanos, especially torrontes wine grown from a grape native to Argentina.
Here are some scenes from the bodegas:
AMAICHA DEL VALLE is home to the Pachamama museum, which is not to be missed in the middle of this small town on the way to Tucuman from Cafayate. The property is part sculpture park and part art/history museum solely designed by artist Hector Cruz. Pachamama means mother earth, so the focus of the paintings, tapestries and sculptures is on nature and the aboriginal culture in Argentina.
Like the locals in small town Argentina, Dave flagged down the bus to take us to Tucuman so we could catch another bus to Cordoba. It was a long day!
With less than one week left, Dave and I are trying to enjoy every minute, but are sad about the impending end to our adventure.
Coming up . . . hiking to the top of the highest mountain in Cordoba, plus wine tasting and canyons in San Rafael.