Hi all! Its a good while since I wrote and have lots to tell you about. I hope you have some time to read it all! I am still in Argentina. By the look of things Ill be leaving in the coming days, heading up to Bolivia. Ive been here just over 2 months, the longest I have been in a country I wasn`t living in. Hard to believe so much time has passed to be honest.
I have spent ages trying to insert photos onto this log but have failed on a couple of occasions. So if you want to see my shots, Ill send the link to my photos. I know a poor workman blames his tools but this really isn`t a good website!
Mum and Dad were with me for 2 weeks, which was lovely. We were in Bariloche, which has a very Swiss appearance and Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. The highpoint of our Bariloche stay was teh Cruce de los Lagos, basically day trip with 3 boats and 3 buses over the border to Chile. The scenery was so beautiful and each lake was a different colour. Mendoza was also a great place to spend some time, particularly in the gorgeous hostel we were in. Mum & Dad were a bit of a hit at the hostel – “your parents are really cool to still stay in a hostel and travel so much” etc etc.
I saw one of the most amazing things I have ever seen last week near Mendoza. I was doing a day hike with a guide and 2 others. We reached the summit of the mountain we were climbing (3400m, with thinning air) and found a very skinny horse on the top . Next thing, 4 condors started circling really close overhead. They were checking out the horse as they only eat dead meat. They have a wingspan of 2 – 4m and are truly impressive. The ones I saw were young and only were about 2m (only 2m!!! enormous!). They are beautiful in flight as they dont flap their wings at all, they just glide. It was an extremely moving and soothing to see nature in such a way.
I have just left the city of Salta, which is a great base for visiting the surrounding countryside. It has a more authentic South American feel to it than everywhere else I have been. Most of rest of the country was developed in the 19th century. Apparently this area was populated by Incas. Certainly there seem to be a lot of a native population here, which is not in the rest of the country. They appear to be mixed into the general population but are very attractive, with high cheekbones and smooth faces. The women aren`t as stick thin as they are in the rest of Argentina. I bought a pair of jeans in Mendoza and had to buy Extra Extra Large!! I am the same weight if not lighter as I was when I left home. Thankfully I wasn`t feeling sensitive that day! My one aim when I came to Salta was to go on the Tren de las Nubes, Train of the Clouds but found that its out of service!! So I did a bus journey that more or less follows the route. It was a bit of an odd day as I had seen better scenery previously and the the journey lacked the romance of a train. However in the end it was worth it, not because of the scenery but because I was able to walk across the train viaduct by myself. Sure I was delighted with myself as I have previously mentioned, I`ve a pretty well developed fear of heights.I also did a 2 day tour in countryside south of the city. I am in danger of saying everything is stunning, amazing, spectacular but it fortunately true! I do think that I was close to a stage of sensory overload as there was just so much to see in 2 days. Even 1 of the places we saw would have been worth a day`s trip, let alone seeing about 5 or 6 amazing places in the same day. The region is famous for the beautiful rock formations in every colour imaginable (green, red, orange, purple, yellow, black, grey, white). There were 4 of us and the driver in a small car. I went with Belgian girl I met and a lovely young Argentinian couple. Our guide also took us out after our dinner to a place in the middle of the countryside so that we could see the stars. The moon was very bright so the stars weren`t that visible, however there was the most incredible electric storm taking place in the surrounding mountains. Really spectacular! We were up very high for a lot of the first day, at a point where altitude sickness could kick in. However it would appear that I am not inclined to get sick as I was trekking at a higher altitude than we were in the car.
I met have a couple of really nice travel companions here which is great. I met an American girl Chris and spent a couple of weeks with her, on and off. She left the other day, which was a shame as we got on so well. I did the 2 day tour with a Belgian girl, Kris. I am now travelling with a lovely English girl Steph and will travel into Bolivia with her. We are in Humahuaca at the moment and are going to Iruya tomorrow, which is a World Heritage Site. Everyone describes it as one of the most spectacular places they have seen. I have purposely not seen any photos so it will all be a surprise.
Thats all for the moment. Next report will be from Bolivia!
posted Monday March 2007