Days 130 to 135: Salta to La Quiaca and the Magical North
My final week in Argentina was spent cycling across its northernmost province of Jujuy. After three food-&-drink infused days in the city of Salta, it was time to get going again. But my final night in Salta wasn’t without its curiosity. For the first time in ages in the Argentine premier league, the title was taken out by Racing FC. Every Racing fan in Salta took to the streets in their cars, tooting horns, waving flags out windows, and driving slowly around the main plaza; bringing the rest of traffic to gridlock. It’s never occurred to me that if a team I like wins a game/league that my first impulse should be to go out and cause a traffic jam in the city centre, but in Argentina it’s apparently a standard default reaction.
It felt good to be rolling northward again. A solid rest had been exactly what I needed. Day 130 took me up a beautiful road to the next major city of Jujuy. Ages ago, the narrow, hilly and twisting road was once the main road, but a new highway has been built leaving the tree and lake-lined route only for those that have the time and inclination. It was a belter of a day as wave after wave of forest passed me by. I even passed a small restaurant in a village where they sold empanadas which could be eaten in their ample leafy garden so did what was required.
After passing through Jujuy city, my route continued north via 3 tiny towns synonymous with northern Argentine beauty: Purmamarca, Tilcara, and Humahuaca. The three towns sit within deep ravines of beautiful multi-coloured rocks and backed by occasional snowy mountains. All three towns had a cute ambience and are tiny which makes walking everywhere easy, but because of their popularity in tourism there’s plenty of places to eat and drink too.
Somewhere in there I crossed northwards over the Tropic of Capricorn, so I’ve officially left the temperate zone and am now in the tropics! Not sure if I’ll notice though as my altitude was steadily increasing over the week, starting at 1200 metres in Salta and topping out at 3750 metres shortly before I hit La Quiaca and Argentina’s northern border with Bolivia. Not much “tropical-ness” to be found at those altitudes, and the merinos and fleece definitely come out around sunset regardless of being in the tropics.
Sad to say goodby to Argentina, outside of countries I’ve lived I’ve spent more time here than anywhere else - 15 weeks over 2 trips by my reckoning. So nice to take the opportunity to get to see so much of a place so slowly. Still, onward to Bolivia!