The Wild Wild North

Callan Swaim
May 26, 2015
Llama in its natural habitat

This past weekend, the long awaited trip to the northern part of Argentina was finally here- to the mountain and history filled lands of Salta and Jujuy.

Thursday afternoon, we all hopped on a plane and flew north for 3 hours to the town of Salta. Arriving rather late at night, we checked into our beautiful hotel and went straight to a traditional Saltean dinner. We had previously been told that the BEST empanadas in all of Argentina were from Salta- boy were they right! The first night we enjoyed traditional empanadas and a stew called "lokro" as we watched a performance of traditional Saltean dance and music. 
Just like in Patagonia, we went to sleep in darkness and woke up to a delightful surprise of a beautiful pink sunrise peaking over the gigantic mountains that surrounded the town. After wrapping our minds about where we were, we walked to the The Anthropological Museum of the High Mountains where we got to see the famous Incan "mummies" that are said to be the best preserved in the world. If you didn't know about these mummies, in 1999 3 children between the ages of 6-15 were found in a volcano in one of the highest mountains in Argentina and were used as Incan sacrifices to the gods  We actually got to meet and listen to a lecture of one of the anthropologists that found the mummies- one of the coolest experiences of my life. We then walked around the town and looked at all of the beautiful fairs, buildings and views that Salta had to offer.
Driving 3 hours though the campo of Argentina, we arrived in the province of Jujuy. There we explored and hiked to the top of a mountain where we couldn't help but feel dwarfed by nature with never ending views of vibrant multicolored mountains (seriously- yellow, green, red and blue colored mountains) 
The next day, we headed straight to the Garganta del Diablo, translation: The Devils Throat. Here we hiked though gigantic rocks and rivers past 10ft high cactuses until we reached the waterfall, where we took a few selfies and then headed back to go see Incan ruins that were hidden in the mountains. We then ended the day with a walk back to our hotel with llamas. Believe it or not, we all got personal llamas which we very naturally walked alongside in hopes not to get spit on. 
Sunday we made the trek to the famous Salt Flats. Ascending 12,000 ft and having coca tea and leaves help us not get altitude sickness, we first stopped to make an offering to Pacha-mama; Mother Earth (This is a very common thing to do in the indigenous culture) After our ceremony, we continued on to the Grand Salt Flats. When we arrived, we realized that it was nothing like we had ever seen before. The salt that forms as a result of weather makes a hexagonal pattern on the ground and makes it a great place to take quirky pictures. 
The last day we went to see 4,000 year old Pre-Incan rock carvings and paintings. About 3 hours away from the nearest city, the town of Barrancas is home to these ancient paintings. This town was nothing I had ever seen before, the people were so friendly and their way of life was so simple and natural but they literally just got electricity 3 years before. Can you imagine? Anyways, these 4,000 year old paintings were incredible. Even though there were hundreds of llamas and a few humans, it was still mind boggling to touch carvings that were made by humans that lived before the Incan people.
Beyond the breathtaking views and beautifully handmade blankets and sweaters that we never got tired of looking at, Jujuy and Salta taught us so much about history and the other ways of life besides the modern United States and the bustling city of Buenos Aires. 
Well, I can't believe I'm saying this but, 
T minus 5 weeks until the end of our IES program. Time to live it up! 

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Callan Swaim

<p>Hola! My name is Callan Swaim and I am a junior currently studying Business and Spanish. In the United States you can find me either frolicking in the cornfields of Indiana or perhaps strutting to class at Wittenberg University in Ohio, but in Argentina I will experiencing a whole new world. Stay tuned and I will take you on my adventures exploring though the life, streets, and culture of the magical city of Buenos Aires.&nbsp;</p>

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