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The Volkswagen Diaries (Los Diarios Volkswagen): Up To Tilcara

Written By: jeff

Posted On: January 30th, 2011

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Salta

Loading up our Volkswagen in Salta. Copyright

Thanks to Andres, Noemi and Pepe, we found a car to use for our roadtrip around the provinces of Salta and Jujuy.  At 8AM, our Volkswagen-wagon showed up.  With five of us and all our gear, it was a tight fit, but we somehow figured it out.  We made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up supplies and off we went – heading north inching ever closer to the Bolivian border.

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Jujuy

Rural landscape of the Jujuy province. Copyright

We made intermittent stops along the way to see some interesting things along the road.  Our biggest stop during the day was the town of Jujuy, the capital city of the province of Jujuy.  There wasn’t a ton to see outside of the town center, but I was able to pick up a wristband.  As we headed further north, the landscape began to transform.  On each side of the road, large mountains rose up from the dry landscape.  The mountains has little, if any, vegetation.  But, the rock colors ranged from browns and reds to purples and greens to golden yellows.  The texture looked like canyon rock formed from the wind erosion over time.

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Maimara cemetary, Jujuy

The cemetery of Maimará. Copyright

At sunset we reached the pueblo of Maimará.  The town sits in front of some amazing mountain and rock formations.  And, it’s a great place to watch the sunset.  But, the really remarkable thing was the cemetery that sat on the outskirts.  Each grave was distinct and contained handmade crafts that adorned each grave.  The cemetery sat on little hills rather than on a stretch of flat land.  It was the most colorful ad beautifully adorned cemetery I had ever seen.  Some had candles, others had religious figures while others have intricate, hand-made signs that paid homage to the person buried.

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Tilcara, Jujuy

The town of Tilcara in the Jujuy province. Copyright

We got back in the car and made our way further north to Tilcara.  We found a hostel through the local tourist office, got directions and off we went.  We drove for a while on what we thought was the path and began to doubt ourselves.  The hostel sat on the outskirts of town which meant dirt roads, no lights and no signs to direct.  We took a road up the side of a mountain and drove for what seemed like and eternity.  We even started making jokes that this must be what it’s like to be in a horror movie: ignorant out-of-towners get lost on a dirt road and are never seen again.  With the help of some random locals we found on the road, we finally found the hostel, got checked in and headed into town for dinner.

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Tilcara, Jujuy

Noemi and Pepe at the local Tilcara market. Copyright

The town was old and well-preserved.  Old stone buildings dotted the town on cobblestone streets.  Tilcara maintained its roots to its indigenous past which we really became apparent when we stumbled upon a festival outside the local church.  We camped out and enjoyed the different groups of performers that were there.  Some danced, some sang and one old sage played a traditional woodwind instrument of some kind.  A media group from Buenos Aires was there to cover the event and interviewed several of us about what we thought.  And, I too was interviewed in Spanish.  The story never ran when we were told it would, so I will have to put off my media debut in Argentina to another time.

career break travel adventures in Argentina, Tilcara, Jujuy

Singer songwriters tell the region's stories. Copyright

Afterwards, we went into town to eat.  We found a place that had local singer-storytellers entertaining the restaurant crowd.  The stories contained a lot of local slang so I didn’t understand much.  But, the ambience was great and the llama I had wasn’t too bad either.  We made our way back to the hostel, which really was a very nice cabaña.  We had a little more wine, turned on the music and danced late into the night.

Originally Published September 14, 2007

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2 Responses to “The Volkswagen Diaries (Los Diarios Volkswagen): Up To Tilcara”

  1. Tilcara is beautiful! I loved road tripping through Salta and Jujuy. It’s easy to drive and the sights are amazing.
    Leslie (of Downtown Traveler) recently posted..Best of China- Top 5 street foods in Xiamen photosMy ComLuv Profile

  2. jeff says:

    Thanks for the comments Leslie. I agree. More stories and pics coming soon from my time there!

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