Friday, February 1, 2013

Cafayate to Salta on Route 68

The scenery from Cafayate to Salta on Nacional 68, is spectacular.  The most amazing large rock formation was Los Castillos, a red sandstone, windblown into the shape of European castles.  

The drive of about 210 kilometers took over five hours.  The road is paved except where it was washed out by the raging Rio Guachipas.  The saddest stop was at the home site where a man and his wife we rebuilding a mud brick home, just 100 yards from where their previous home was washed away only 8 days ago.

The man was lucky to survive the sudden flash flood caused by torrential mountain rains far away.  His llamas were swept away with his entire house.  He was able to save only three of the animals.  The regional government sent a bulldozer to help him, but he was laying the bricks for his new house by himself. 

Further up the road a major washout occurred last February and they still have not begun repairs.  We drove across the rocky debris from the flood.  Sand, dry desert, rocks of all shapes and sizes.  This is a hard land, unforgiving.  

The brave owner of the little mud brick house shook his head and said, "the river is bigger than us, it takes our house away so we build another."  Fatalism, what can you do when you are up against the power of nature-
This is big country.  Mountains are huge, technicolor, reds, browns, black, grey, white in stirations from the uplifting of tectonic plates eons ago.  Rivers are wide, fast, the color of a coffee milkshake full of silt.  Valleys are broad, and once you come down from the mountains, the valley floor is full of farms, fields of tobacco, grapes, corn, vegetables and big John Deere tractors and harvesters and hot hard working men.

The gem of small rock formations was the El Anfiteatro, a three hundred foot high rock wall where ten million years ago water cut the rock into a natural amphitheater.  

The locals sell fresh tortillas and the musicians come to play pipes and guitars for the tourists.  We bought some cold water and an alfajora and two turtle shaped pipes for Daniel and Johnny to blow happy music on.

Our last rest stop  en route to Salta shows a pear cactus and a very different type of landscape. Another long day driving, but worth the effort.  Dale

1 comment:

Tanya said...

I have always found it so understandable and interesting that Argentina's fascinating places are so like our own. Rio Negro reminds me of Washington.Enre Rios of the Mississippi Delta, Catamarca, Salta, partes of Cordoba reminds me of Utah. Las Pampas ...hmmmm...North Dakota? Kansas? etc.etc. These pictures are great, SO DIFFERENT from Buenos Aires, like a country all it's own. Beautiful geography, great signage, and wonderful little "tourist traps". I much prefer those to our own "Mega Gift Shops"!