Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Day 9: Purmamarca Earthquake alert!! 7am, tremor for 3-5 seconds

Day 9:  Purmamarca Earthquake alert!! 7am, tremor for 3-5 seconds

Weather: Another good weather day: overcast and around 60-65 in the morning with a very few raindrops, no breeze, a bit humid, then sun in early afternoon, still comfortable, then hot by the pool when the sun came out during THB’s brief dip.

Quotes of the Day: We should leave the hotel tomorrow at 7am

Note 1: Tomorrow we’re heading to Chile and sure enough there may be road issues, customs issues, earthquakes, and other miscellani issues that make it hard for Andres to make it back in to Argentina after depositing us in Chile, so we’ve moved up the departure time. Fine with us!

Note 2: Andres is also staying at the Silencio with us; probably when we changed the plans because of weak thighs to be in Purmamarca during Carnaval there weren’t many options of places to stay. He confirms the earthquake, and it is a common occurrence here in this part of Argentina.

Pictorial Pop Quiz: ­What are these plants?

And, what is Andres doing (what DB is doing is pretty obvious...or maybe not)

And, the last Pop Pictorial Quiz: What's wrong with this picture?

We find Andres having his coffee in the large sitting area off the lobby. Much discussion, most of it moderately discouraging. 

We did not have to get on our knees to have breakfast this morning

We think this is mostly Andres trying to set expectations and in his English (pretty good) tone (flat) is not how he’s thinking: he wants to do what the client wants to do. We want the guide to show some spark about what’s on offer for wherever we are and build encouragement to get up and out. Combined with the rural villages and long drives, there may not be a lot to get excited about. Still…

The view back towards Purmamarca from the highway, best when the sun rises and today: no sun, it is almost drizzling


The church is on the secondary plaza, very unusual

Per the suggestion of the desk clerk (encouraging, cheerful), we agree to head up the gorge to the next town that’s celebrating Carnaval, Tilcara. There is a museum dedicated to  local artist, an archeological site adjoining a botanical garden, a museum containing finds from the site and elsewhere, and there may be some Carnaval action as well. Since it is morning, we don’t expect a lot of people or traffic (Andres: you never know how crowded it wil…or how much traffic).

A version of one of his best paintings, the painting hangs in Luxembourg!

J A Terry

Large bunches of ripening grapes in the inner courtyard

The ride is easy, no traffic, not much happening in the town, the “atelier” of Jose Antony Terry is open. Works by him, his sister, and some visiting artists exhibition, some of which is interesting. The best piece is in Luxembourg (the museum person opens up each set of rooms, turning on lights, conversing in Espanol), replaced by a photograph. The museum guy lets THB take a picture of the tile work of the best picture. Terry’s atelier (the museum is actually where he painted and lived) is fascinating, explains something about his family, his models, and has some of his personal belongings on display.
There is a high river (off a slope from the mountains behind Tilcara) that divides the town; this is the only way across

Foreigners pay double

The roof is made of wood from the cardon cactus

Andres leads us through the site

The monument to the two lead archeologists

A Duane Hanson knockoff

From there we head across a flimsy one-lane bridge to the archeological site and Andres buys the tickets (note: estranjeros are double-price, around $6, which includes entrance to the museum in town). It is a good climb thru the recreated site to the top.  The site is noteworthy for a) showing how after the Incans colonized the locals they set up a “fort” at the best spot for seeing visitors approaching, and b) someone decided to put up a monument to the two archeologists who led the dig exactly at the el primo spot near the fort, and possibly burying other findings/objects that might exist there. Not too clever…and something the (dead) archeologists would never have ever approved!

THB meets a fellow Ruta 40 fan!

Why you don't need to fed the llamas

Now for a tour through the adjoining botanical garden and the answer to the pictorial pop quiz first three pictures:

All three plants are quinoa!! Comes in lots of colors and apparently varieties.

And, the answer to what was Andres doing?

This is a piece of stone thrown off by a volcano, and it is hollow inside and thus can be played like a xylophone; DB is listening to the concert

More pics from the botanical garden and on the way back to Purmamarca:

Back to town to visit the archeology museum (one fee covers the site and museum), then head to Andres’ reco for lunch. Cerrado…pessimism rewarded. We think we’ll eat in Purmamarca. Andres asks if it is okay if he fill the truck with diesel. Okay with us, who wants to run out on the way to Chile?  Something at the station is going on: there’s a line of over 30 cars, awaiting access to the one set of pumps that is selling diesel. All the other pumps are empty (natural gas, regular gas?). So, we head back to the hotel and agree to meet at 7am tomorrow morning. Andres will take care of the gas without us (fine with us!).

THB and DB head downhill to town and decide to eat at the first place we see (and not Andres’ reco) as this place is almost full of Argentinians. A large group hasn’t ordered yet…not a good sign.  While we are waiting for our food, one woman returns her meal and her group leaves the restaurant without paying...another negative sign. We settle on empanadas (not good) for DB and asado de cordero (basically, really tough lamb shank) for THB, a shared veggie salad (thin slices of eggplant, sweet potato, zucchini, and mild goat cheese on quinoa…okay), bread with eggplant chutney (decent, salty), a local brewski (tasteless), all arriving very very slowly, $30. Maybe Andres’ reco was not to be turned down.

And, the answer to the last Pictorial pop quiz: Did you figure out what was wrong with the picture?

DB took this picture from the outside of the stalls in the women's to lock the stall, someone has to do it for you after you enter! Verrrrrrry clever, they could never put something like this in the men's don't cooperate like women!

We get close enough to the square to see a huge group rallying behind a trumpet player and flag waver, attacking local businesses with spray cans and flour. Close is good enough, back to the hotel for a long rest up, blogging, DB gets a massage, and THB does some reading and resting as well. The walking up to the fort, through the botanical garden and the museums has sapped THB’s legs, those weak thighs haven’t quite recovered. On other hand, THB is up to about 6.5 of the 7 minutes calisthenics program.

THB  takes his usual 35 second dip, enough to lower his body temp

The view from the pool towards the back of the hotel

Very unusual: a salad of all fresh uncooked veggies

The trout salad, excellent

Dinner is preceded by pisco sours in the sitting area. Dinner is very light: we each order the smoked trout salad and DB has raw veggies and THB the quinoa salad. One glass of Torrontes, one of Malbec, tip for two nights, $55.

Book Review: If the Oceans Were Ink, An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran, Carla Power: A terrific book. Power spends a year with what she calls a conservative, madrasa trained, muslim “Sheikh” (one who gives advice and counsel to others) discussing her questions about and aiding in her understanding of the Quran, which of course also aids and abets in her understanding of her own beliefs (and you in yours when you read the book). She, an American, met Sheikh Mohammed Akram Nadwi (she calls him Akram; he’s Indian and raising his family in Britain) at the Oxford Centre when they were both in their 20s, she helping on a project of his illuminating the history of women in Islam. Spoiler alert: THB did not turn into a Muslim, nor did Power. Here’s one of the meta-messages (there are quite a few): it is harder to be a good Muslim every day than it is to go on jihad. Highly Recommended, will be in THB’s top books for 2017.

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