(If you're just coming to the blog and want to read from the beginning of the trip, start here.)
Day 4: Salta - Jujuy - Purmamarca - Tilcara - Humahuaca
Distance: 260 kilometers
We woke in Salta at 6:30, well rested from a real bed. The plan was to make haste to Purmamarca via Jujuy, so we skipped breakfast and were on the road by 8:15. In the road atlas, it looked like rt9 north was the most direct route, but the hostel manager explained that the newer highway east (also called rt9) was actually faster. The older road was "very dangerous," he said repeatedly while making spiraling motions with his hand.
The rain had passed, and the sky now was sunny and blue. The road was surrounded by mountains and occasional wheat fields. We rode 200 kilometers, past Jujuy (a city with not much recommending a stop) and turned off the main road toward Purmamarca. This was also the road to the Salinas Grandes salt flats, so the town would be our base for the next few days. (Originally we had planned to do the mountain ride to the salt flats on the same day, but Steph had the foresight to reverse the itinerary with the next day, making the time much more balanced.)
Energized, a little rested, and electronics fully charged (including our very important helmet walkie-talkies), we got back on the road for the 30km to Tilcara. Tilcara is another dusty desert town, but much bigger than Purmamarca, and is home to archeological excavations of an Incan fort city, Pucará.
Pucará. (The pyramid in the center is a monument to the discovering archeologists, not part of the ruins.)
|Llamas at Pucará|
Some very odd cacti
From Tilcara, we continued north toward Humahuaca. The mountain curves were wide, the kind that can be safely ridden at tight leans very fast. Unlike while stopped, the Street Glide surprised me with how wonderfully it leaned while riding. Curves are a vital part of what makes motorcycling so thrilling: a bike doesn't fight the inertia like a 4-wheeled vehicle; it leans into a turn the way a running animal would lean. In the riding course I took, we learned to accelerate through turns (after decelerating if necessary before entering it), to maximize control and traction with the road, and that feeling (multiplied by the thousands of curves we traversed) is incredible. Some passengers freak out at this, but Steph - as long as I didn't go too fast - loved it!
This whole area is part of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a ravine that has served as a trade route for millenia. All along the way were bridges over wide, dry riverbeds of the Rio Grande, which was still dry from the winter, but which flows again in the summer.
Campsite with laundry and rain cover drying
Amazingly cheap feast
How many colleged-educated Americans
does it take to start a fire?
|The bike covered in mud, dust, and splattered bugs|
|Randomly, a 1926 Ford Model T at a gas station|
|A wild horse|
Continue to Day 5...