July 23, 2009
Thursday morning, after nothing more than a 3-hour post-peña nap, we arose in the dark to catch our 5:30 a.m. bus to the Argentine border town of La Quiaca.
It was an icy morning as our arrival in Jujuy (pronounced Hoo-Hooey)attested: the city known for its perpetual spring-like climate was covered in snow. We passed through Tilcara, a beautifully unique little town in the desert, where we’d originally planned to spend the night, before getting behind in schedule.
Leaving Tilcara, we passed through the breath-taking Quebrada de Humahuaca, even more colorful than the Quebrada de Cafayate, and continued on to the very Bolivian-feeling city of La Quiaca.
We found our hotel fairly easily, but had to wait with the lunch rush at their storefront diner before checking in. We then set out to find our own lunch. We found a dog herding a pig along the way.
A couple of people sent us in the direction of the “Tourist Hotel,” once our guidebook’s recommendations left us dry, but after sitting for 30 minutes watching the one, extremely inefficient waitress carry out plates and utensils, one at a time, for other guests, and still not get around to bringing us the menus, we decided to move on. (Three other tables also vacated during our wait, apparently not having been served either.)
Our second try, the Restaurant de Buen Gusto was more efficient, thought also 10 degrees cooler. From there, we headed to the local market to hitch a ride to the nearby colonial town of Yavi .
The town is almost entirely made up of mud-brick houses and dirt roads. However, it features a nice church from the 17th century, a museum, and some surprising funky cafes.
A cold wind had been blasting us for the past few days and refused to let up as we navigated the dust storm of a town.
The region is at an altitude of 3,400 meters above sea level, which exhausted our sea level dwelling bodies after just a couple of hours. We were instructed to wait on a deserted corner (the whole town appeared more or less deserted in the sandy weather), to find a car heading back to La Quiaca.
We waited for about half an hour, being whipped by the wind and pelted with sand, wondering if anyone would pass before dark and the temperature started to really drop.
Finally, we piled into a tiny sedan with 4 others and headed “home.” It took a coffee at our hotel restaurant to warm me up enough to start feeling uncomfortable with the quantity of dirt covering my body, and I was off through the cold night air to our hotel’s shared showers.
Tammy followed suit, and we headed back to our hotel’s restaurant for dinner. We were both craving veggies and ordered the super salads with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, potato, beets, and a hard boiled egg. Still chilled, we followed the salad with a hot Spanish tortilla.
With extremely satisfied bellies, we fell asleep nearly the moment our heads touched the pillows (under an assortment of heavy blankets).