Archive for December, 2006


December 14th, 2006 by budgetmonkeydave

the church at Iruya

If there was a contest for the most beautiful Argentine village, Iruya would certainly be a strong contender for the top spot. What it lacks in architectural beauty it makes up for in location — the setting really is about as dramatic as one could imagine.

As you meander the steep cobblestone streets (the only thing to do anyway, especially during the extended afternoon siesta hours), you’re treated to the spectacle of the valley walls everywhere you look. Every direction brings a unique landscape. As the light changes throughout the day, different colors dance among the rock formations in an endless spectacle of light and texture.

The Road to Iruya

December 13th, 2006 by budgetmonkeydave

the Road to Iruya

After lunch we set off on the road to Iruya, an inaccesable and picturesque hamlet that has captured the heart of Argentina’s touring class. The road to Iruya is legendary, and involves 50 km of offroading over up to a 4000m high ridge and back down again. The road was a rocky dirt track, and crossed a few running streams, but we didn’t run into any particularly sticky situations and we were left to enjoy the scenery for the two hour drive.

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December 12th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

After a long day we hadn’t eaten a whole lot other than some medialunas and some yoghurt and (especially after the digging earlier in the day) was starting to feel the effects. Luckily for him we were dropping in altitude by a couple 100 meters. Even so, by the time we reached Humahuaca he wasn’t doing so well, migraine, nausea, etc. Very unpleasant.

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Laguna de Pozuelos

December 12th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

We tried the first access route to the laguna (which is quite dry at this time of year, since it hasn’t rained much) where a woman told us that this was the only way to get to the laguna. It was dry, we saw a Rhea, had some mate with coca leaves in it, and went through a lot of mud puddles. The woman tried to sell us some strange looking figurines, but I just left her some pesos instead.

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Yavi to Laguna de Pozuelos

December 12th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

stuck in the mud - Puna Juje�a - Jujuy Province

We left Yavi in the morning with a recommendation from the lady at the htoel to take the ruta consolidada (basically grated or gravel road) to the Laguna de Pozuelos a large lakebed that fills over the wet season and is famous for the flocks of flamingos (of at least 3 different species) that live there. The road started out great. We were flying in our little 3 door corsa. Unfortunately it had rained the past couple nights in the area and when we were about 20km. from the first access road to the laguna, and pretty much in the middle on nowhere our brave little corsa got stuck in the mud. Dave tried to lift the car out of the mud while I gunned it in reverse but to no avail, it was like taffy.

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December 11th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

I woke up feeling much better and after a light breakfast that included more coca tea we decided to take a short stroll through town. The landscape in this region is mainly rocky and barren which only enhances the stark contrast with the thin line of lush greenery that travels through the bottom of the canyon. The town was once the major center of activity in the region and the location of the home of the local marquez during the spanish colonial era.

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Quebrada de Humahuaca to the Puna Jujeña

December 10th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

We started our drive North through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a large canyon famous for the colors of its mountains due to the many minerals found in them. As you drive through the valley the mountains range from blue-green to bright rust red to purple to beige. It’s really impressive.

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Still in Salta

December 9th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

Hi folks! So what have we been up to these past 7 days…Well after a long and stressful Saturday trying to rent a car which is near to impossible on a weekend with the whole siesta thing (for 1 to 5 hours everything closes in the afternoon, some places re-open later, but a lot don’t on a Sat.) We also had the cat problem to deal with — bring her with us or leave her in Salta and pay for her stay (which was almost as much as our own hotel). We also were interested in camping since the car was going to cost us quite a lot and camping is cheap in argentina, but this meant finding cheap camping gear.

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Kitty Troubles in Salta

December 8th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

the ad we put up in Salta

We will now be up to date! Well what a story it is too. We arrived in Salta early in the morning and began walking around with our large backpacks looking for a good, cheap hotel to stay in. The first one we went to was beautiful and friendly but being maximizers we had to check out others. After searching and talking to the incredible tourism office (they are so sweet and have tons of information), we finally decided to head back the one we had originally gone to.

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Esteros del Iberá

December 6th, 2006 by budgetmonkeyanna

Capybara at Esteros del Iber�Wow! This place blew us both away. Super relaxing, full of life, incredibly nice people…it was wonderful. Just on the ride over there on a long dirt road (3.5 hours) we saw at least 20 different species of bird including a Jabiru – the largest stork in the Americas, very rare to see here supposedly. We also saw tons of capybaras (called carpincho in Argentina). It was heaven for me of course. All the rodent type animals here are guinea pig like it’s really funny. There’s the Vizcacha (looks like a cross between a chinchilla and a carpincho) that lives in underground tunnel systems and has a sympatric relationship with the burrowing owl. the owl eats the other rodents that try to steal the vizcachas food and the vizcacha keeps the burrow system clean. We also saw burrowing owls but not very close up. Then there’s the capybara of course, super cute, babies everywhere. On the boat trip through the lagunas and the floating marshlands we got to get out and walk around on the floating land masses. When you jumped up and down the land would ripple mirroring the water beneath it. We came within a foot of a large male capybara wallowing in the mud! They are very tolerant of people now that hunting is not allowed. We also saw tons of cayman (small alligators). They were all sitting with their mouths open regulating their temperatures. The first caiman that we saw happened to be one of the older ones (they live up to 80 years in the wild) and he was huge! I started trying to write up a list of all the animals we saw but I stopped when I hit 30, it was too much to keep track of. So many birds too. Giant toads (the size of small salad plates) roamed the streets at night. The people also let their horses loose in the streets watched over by young girls. One of the horses had a foal with her who would prance around and try to play with the stallions. At one point he got so excited running around that he lost his balance and fell on his side. He quickly got back up and hid behind his mother for a short period of time. It was really cute. Oh and they have real cavies! Marsh cavies. They’re genuine wild guinea pigs and they come out to eat the grasses in the morning and afternoon. If you sit fairly still they’ll come out even with you really close to them. We ate every meal except breakfast at one of the three or so restaurants in town – Don Marcos. Everything there was homemade, even the ravioli (which happened to be overcooked however). For breakfast our hotel baked scones in the morning and served it with butter and home-made marmalade. This seems to be a staple throughout the Northern regions. We took two tours here, the boat tour and a night 4×4 tour. The boat tour was run by Emilio an employee of our hotel (Ypa Sapukai). Really great. He knew tons about the animals and where to find them. The tour lasted at least 3 hours (when most of them only last 1-2 hours) and he didn’t just bullshit the information either. When he didn’t know something he just told me so, I really appreciated that. He also served us maté on the boat. It was so quiet and so peaceful, we never wanted to leave. After the boat tour we took a quick siesta and then headed out to see the local troup of howler monkeys. Luckily we arrived 10 minutes before the park closed and were able to go in. We found a small troup of monkeys, mostly juveniles, playing in the trees. They made the weirdest noises, kind of pig-like sounds. That evening after eating at Don Marcos during some torrential rains that came down we decided to go on the night tour anyways, adn it was worth it. We did not see the elusive maned wolf (which is neither wolf nor fox, but a separate canid), but we did see a pair of foxes, a single fox, an armadillo and the vizcacha (that only come out at night). The vizcacha came right up to the car. They like to collect random objects and all well known for stealing articles of clothing and shoes and such. (kind of reminds me of a chinchilla I know who at least used to have a fetish for credit cards). The next morning we headed back to Mercedes with two Danish guys who live in B.A. and were kind enough to give us a ride back to town in their car. On the way back we encountered a mother Rhea and her brood. The mother quickly ducked into the grass on the side of the road, but the babies were all confused and continued to run alongside the car for quite some time until they realized that stopping would be much more effective. Even the little ones can run really fast, let me tell you. We were laughing so hard, it was straight out of a cartoon. Their little legs looked like they were spinning in circles. : )

Well the blog is almost caught up with us and soon you will hear of the new drama (an incredibly adorable one, that has an incredibly impressive set of lungs on her)…