Carnival Weekend in Salta was amazingly quiet during the day but everything came to life as the sun went down. Young people and families with babies in the parks and plazas, cars cruising the streets honking horns and music playing everywhere. Lorraine and I found a table in the town plaza to watch from – not quite as riotous as Carnival in Rio but colourful all the same. The cathedral opened its doors for the evening service so we could see where all the wealth of the city was hidden and the crowd packed in and participated enthusiastically. Easy to understand why the Catholic Church sees their future in South America. We dropped in again after the service when most of the crowd had gone to take a few pics.
In the morning we sadly left George and Cherie behind to sort out the brake and rear axle problems with Casper. Hopefully it can be fixed quickly so they can rejoin us in a few days.
This was another day when we had a choice of routes. RIP and Blue B decided to take the long way around while we went with the others taking the more direct Route 9 into the Humahuaca Gorge which leads to the Bolivian border. The climb out of Salta took us on a very narrow winding road through tropical rain forest and on past the reservoir. Luckily very little traffic, just a few cars crawling along in holiday mood who took a while to get past. Then the scenery changed and we were in the Gorge with the amazing variety of colours for which the area is famous along the mountain sides.
We were too early to check into the hotel in Purmamarca so made an attempt to drive into the next town, Tilcara, to see the remains of a pre-Incan fort. The traffic had been getting increasingly heavy but a few kms before Tilcara it just stopped. The temp gauge started rising and there was no way we could continue in this traffic so we beat a hasty retreat and left Tilcara until tomorrow. Driving back into Purmamarca was almost as busy – cars lining the road along with hundreds of people walking and hitchhiking the last 3 kms into town where Carnival was in full swing. After checking in we left the cars and walked back into the town centre where the music was at full blast and everyone in a festive mood. The major activity apart from dancing and drinking was to spray unsuspecting visitors like us with foam or flour. Little kids were the worst culprits, armed with a couple of spray cans they could wreak all sorts of carnage. All good fun but it became a bit wearing after a while so it was back to the peace and quiet of the La Comarca Hotel. Luckily the stone walls provided good sound insulation because it was built right on the road serving as the major highway through to Chile. Trucks and car transporters drove right past and we hardly heard them.