Today's Lesson (2/26): It takes 1 ton of Coca leaves to make 2 grams of cocaine.
Today we took a *very* long tour north of Salta to see the famous multicolored hills of the desert, limestone region. We also saw llamas, small villages, ancient ruins, and many many tourist shops! The most exciting part was getting up to about 14000 feet in Hornocal, site of the 14 colored hills. We bought and were taught how to suck on Coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness. The tour did get back about 2.5 hours late (which we've come to expect as typical in SA, but still annoys us...). We're currently waiting in our hostel before heading to the bus station for our latest night bus departure yet... 1:00am... with a border crossing... yikes... this will be the last time we do that!
Today's Lesson (2/25): For important events, the ancient Incans would sacrifice children by first ceremonially marrying them, getting them drunk, and burying them alive. Some such children were preserved as mummies in the Andes near Salta and are on display in a museum.
Aside from the horrifying fact above, Salta deserves its nickname Salta la Linda (Salta the Cute). We arrived early on a not so great night bus from La Rioja (no blankets, pillows, or snacks in Cama Ejecutivo!) watching the terrain change from dry desert to lush mountains. We were DELIGHTED that our hostel room was ready at 8am and they even gave us breakfast (with eggs!). Afterwards, we immediately headed out to climb Cerro Bernardo's 1000 steps (accompanied by a street dog...of course...this IS South America). At the top, we had coffee then took the cable car down and proceeded to the main Plaza for museum and cathedral visiting....and all that before 1pm. Next, we found a delightful restaurant, open since 1857, were seated on the balcony overlooking the plaza, listened to the sounds of jazz saxophone wafting through the air, and dined on fish, veggies, and a local Torrentes wine.
Today's Lesson (2/24): Ancient Quechuans used to grind their grain in sandstone, which mixed with their grain so their teeth were ruined at an early age. Don't eat rocks.
We started early, but still managed to snag breakfast at our favorite hotel in a while...driving towards two major parks with the sunrise greeting us in our rental car. First, we visited Valle de la Luna, where are choices were trekking to a mountain overlook or driving a 40 km circuit. We chose hiking. We were so excited to see cacti! Next, we booked it to Talampaya in time for a circuit tour of the canyon and hoodoos. It's soooo much like the Southwest US here...hot as hades too!! After our touring, we drove back to La Rioja and dropped off our rental car. I am now watching Reuben trying to eat at least half of the $2 pizza he bought while we wait for a night bus. On to Salta en la manana... @ Parque Nacional Talampaya