Monday, 12 January 2009

A Tour

I’m not really a tour person. I had decided this before I had ever taken one. In the first instance (Iguazu) curiousity got the better of me (ultimately the boat trip was good but I felt ripped off all the same); here in Salta it seems the only way, save hiring a car, that I can get out and see the surrounding area (and I don’t hold a licence). I may well have enjoyed it more if I had gone to sleep the night before. As it was the artists of Salta decreed come five am that it would be useless for me to sleep for two hours and so I rolled onto a minibus for Cachi half cut after an all-night session.

It was pouring with rain as I got on. As soon as we reached a certain altitude the clouds were such that nobody could see anything of the allegedly amazing views. I was sat next to a German man in his seventies who didn’t cease talking for the whole three-hour outward journey and smelt of plastercine. (A polite following question such as, ‘what did you do before you retired?’ quickly escalated into a 25 minute monologue on the mores of the German economy in the eighties). Eventually the fog cleared and, as we came down from the highest peaks some of the views were indeed spectacular….desert, mountain ranges, long curling roads.

Cachi itself looked to me like a slightly artificial lush green platform placed in a valley surrounded by dusty cactus strewn mountains. It had a good ice cream outlet in the square. The walk to the cemetery was taxing in the altitude and explained why all the flowers in the cemetery were made of plastic. (It looked like a party of children had (over) decorated the whole place). We made hard work of the descent by trying to take a shortcut down a ridiculously sleep slope full of cactus….I had a strong word with myself at the bottom that ran along the lines of not being twenty anymore and reminded myself I hadn’t slept.

On the return journey we got a flat tyre in the desert and later, ascending again,  could see even less than before, dangerously so given the mountain road we were traversing. These numerous obstacles however had little effect on my  German friends capacity for speech - no matter how strong the indication of the peak of my cap.[1] If anything I think it may have made it worse. Even his sister who was travelling with him lost her patience with him at one point. I think he was really a bit jealous of the guide, who often had to wait for him to finish whatever play-doe spewing story he was currently engaged in order to shoehorn her well practiced spanglish sound bites.[2]

[1] I dislike wearing a cap but aside from the obvious protection from the sun it does usually have its advantages for blotting out the world for sleep.

[2] I am being unfair to the old chap for comic effect, but I sense he might be just as taxing even if I had had a good nights sleep.


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