This past weekend, I went on a trip to the provinces of Salta and Jujuy (pronounced "HOO-HOO-ee"), located in the northwestern corner of Argentina. IES Abroad greatly exceeded my expectations in terms of hiring informative but personable guides, feeding us extremely well, and bringing us both to the classic tourist destinations and also the more local, cultural spots.
Day 1: Thursday - The 35 or so of us left the pouring rain in Buenos Aires and headed for Salta around 8 p.m. One bumpy hour later, we landed, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and headed for a traditional Salta restaurant. I think this dinner ended up being a high point for many of the students as a group of diners had brought drums, guitars, and zampoñas (similiar to flutes). We dined on meat and empanadas and poatatoes while being seranded by middle-aged ameatur musicians.
Day 2: Friday - We explored Salta with a guide by walking around the center plaza, visiting museums, and ultimately taking a cable-car up the mountain to find beautiful views of the city. After lunch we took a 3-hour bus ride to Tilcara, Jujuy, where we spent the next three nights. The mountains of Jujuy form a brilliant collage of purple, pink, red, brown, orange, white, and green while mighty saguaro cacti litter the hills. We had a bit of free time after checking into our home for the next three days, so some friends and I went swimming in the pool before dinner.
Day 3: Saturday - Happy Halloween! Except Halloween doesn't exist in Argentina but rather the people in Jujuy celebrate "Día de los Muertos," or "Day of the Dead." After breakfast, 1/2 of us went on a hike through a canyon to a small waterfall in the desert named "the devil's throat." Meanwhile, the other 1/2 of the group walked around Tilcara with the local llamas. The two groups then met up again and we walked through the ruins of an Incan fortification. After lunch the two groups switched activities.
Day 4: Sunday - Our group went to "las salinas grandes"--the salt flats of Jujuy. To get to the flats, we reached an altitude of about 13,000 feet above sea level and the majority of us felt the difference in altitude. The fun part of the salt flats (for the youth of the 21st century) is using the pure white salty background as a blank canvas for posing for creative pictures. For example, my friend, Evan found a toy dinosaur in his homestay and brought it on the trip. We stood the dino in front of the camera and sped-walk (you can't run without oxygen) to the background, making it look as though the dinosaur was attacking us. It was trivial but really got the creative juices flowing.
Day 5: Monday - Happy birthday to me! This day was much more "culturally-oriented" as we bussed to our guide's family's home to celebrate "Día de los Almas" (All Saint's Day) the traditional way. We helped with cooking and setting up an alter to the ancestors and learned how to make flowers out of tissue paper. IES feasted with the family and then we brought our newly-made flowers to a cemetary to decorate the graves.
We arrived back in Buenos Aires around 10:30 p.m.
It was certainly worth it to go on the IES-led trip to the northwestern provinces. Albeit more expensive, this tour enabled me to grasp the cultural and traditional aspects of the community, especially because we visited during such sacred days in the Catholic Church.
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<div>My name is Lucy McNamara and I am twenty years old. I am from Bolton, Massachusetts but am currently studying <span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">history as a junior at the University of Virginia. I am the tenth out of twelve children in my family, thus I am an </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">experienced arguer and am considering law school! I love to read, write, cook, and take photographs, and I could not be </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">more excited to share all my new experiences in Buenos Aires with you.</span></div>