Saturday, 18 October 2014

Salt pans and coloured rocks

Searing hot whiteness of San Andreas salt pans, coloured rocks of Pumamanca.

Went on an English guided trip up to the salt pans of San Andreas. My companions were a pleasant trio (Dutch, Italian, Belgian] from a neuropsychology lab in Brussels and working on pain. Our guide was a surly chap, he was late and then gave us almost no time at the beautiful village of Pumamanca with its amazing 7 colour rock with bands of red, brown, purple, and blue towering over the village. 

The scenery was stunning, huge dry rockscapes with. The rocks carved by the wind to look like organ pipes. There were huge valleys with rocks and streams weathering deep fissures in the rock. We went up to the huge salt pans, high but hot under the bright blue sky. The salt varies from being a few centimetres to meters deep and is excavated here. The salt pans form a huge icescape. Our driver got a buzz from a fast drive across the salt. It felt like driving on ice with only white saltscape in all directions. We stopped at a place where salt was forming in small square salt pans, tasted it and jumped up in the air above the icescape, We lunched in San Antonio de Colinas, a rather dour feeling industrial town at 4000 m, bleak and with few people around, I can' t imagine what it must be like to grow up and live there. We descended the rocky valley stopping at a huge viaduct over the river.

Our driver had every Argentinian stereotype; he was contemptuous of women, and laws and governments. He had worked in the silver mines as a machine operator 10 years earlier, then as a long distance lorry driver and flipped in and out of the tourist industry.

We ended the evening drinking in the main square in Salta; I stayed on to hear a local band play under the cadilla. Back to my hotel and packed for my early departure tomorrow.

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