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.
We stopped in a number of adobe towns along the way, but other than Purmamarca, the first one on the way, we thought they were cute, but nothing incredibly special. They all consist of the the same layout that one can find across Argentina – a central park/plaza with trees, usually quite pleasant to hang out in, with streets branching off from it. In this case all the homes and buildings were built from mud bricks which was pretty cool. It had recently rained too, so you could see the mud melting on the sides of some of the buildings. The landscape is what really draws the tourist here. By nightfall we realized that we would not be able to make it to Iruya since the road there was supposed to be somewhat treacherous so we decided to go all otu and drive straight through to the most northern town we had planned on visiting – Yavi. Yavi is a small scenic town on the main road that parallels the Bolivian border. There’s a wonderful hostal (the word for hotel/hostel/guest house) there called Hostería de Yavi. In general the town turned out to be quite pleasant and relaxing.
The one problem with Yavi is that it’s at 3,500m. which converts to about 11,500ft. This was a good 6,000ft. higher than where we had spent the last night. For those of you who don’t know this about me, I am very sensitive to altitude sickness. Thus I spent the entire first night trying not to vomit, with a pounding migraine, and feeling like I was suffocating – not recommended, if you should visit the area please take time to acclimate before you visit these high altitude areas. The ladies at the hotel were very nice and made me some coca tea (yes made from the leaves that could also be used to make cocaine). The tea was warm and calming (even though it’s supposed to be a mild stimulant) but I think what mainly helped was sleeping and breathing as deeply and slowly as possible. Dave seemed to be fine and benefited from the delicious home-cooked meal that the gals at the hotel made that night.