Monday, 15 December 2014

0171 Salicas to Talampaya NP

12th Dec 

Our overnight site was interesting – It seems to be part of an educational system for local children, set up by the owners off their own initiative because they are dissatisfied with what is available within the system.  We will not pretend to even understand the half of it because he was so enthusiastic that he spoke in very rapid Spanish that meant we understood very few of the details, although we certainly understood the gist of it along with his enthusiasm !!  But surrounded by geese and dogs and other farmyard animals, and with the LOUDEST cicadas (or cigarras as I think they are called here), we eventually slept !

This morning we packed up, and then went for a walk up the little waterway to the “aguas caliente” pool – Although if that was hot water I would hate to see cold water !!  Very pretty though, and obviously a great place for the local kids and families to have a dip on a hot summer’s evening.  After that, we set off down the road, with the intention of cutting across to the west on highway 40 so we could drop down through the Andes on some roads that we had been advised were very scenic.

Heading down Ruta 40, we were on the road by 9.30 and passing through a number of small towns, kept our eyes open for a panaderia where we might buy some fresh rolls for lunch, and maybe something sweet for elevenses.  Pituil had nothing, and there was a gap until we ca to Chilecito, where on the way into the centro we passed a shop with chickens Roasting in an oven – Perfect.  We went on into town first in order to find a panaderia, and after we had found that and bought some rolls (and a sticky bun !), then, despite passing a couple more chicken shops, we backtracked to the original one we had seen.  It was just right – The chickens were ready, the shop owner threw in an enormous bag of papas fritas (chips) as part of the deal, and we then bought a bottle of local Argentine wine for our supper !  We left town munching on the chips, and they ended up doing us for lunch – When combined with the sticky buns !) 

Shortly after Chilecito we passed through Nonogasta where we turned right, following Ruta 40 to the west. The road immediately started climbing through some low mountains, and we were looking forward to getting across to Villa Union about 50 kms away, tooted and waved as we passed a long-distance cyclist coming down the hill– When suddenly we came over a brow of a hill and there was a bull dozer in the middle of the road, and a man waving us down.  Basically he told us the road ahead was closed and he did not know when it would reopen !!  Aaargh !  After giving him the rest of our papas fritas for his lunch (I told you it was a BIG bag !), we set off back down the hill after the cyclist, hoping he could give us some more information on the road.  We found him buying some food in a stall by the road, his name was Thomas and he was from France and was heading north from Ushuaia.  Yes he had come through the road, but it was impossible for a car – Even a 4WD like Troopie, he said – So that was that.  We gave Thomas some coffee sweets we carry, and set off on a LONG loop of about 250 kms or more to get us to Villa Union.  We had been told the roads to the west of Villa Union really were spectacular so we decided the extra distance was worth it, especially since we had a couple of days up our sleeve before we needed to be in Santiago. 

First we were driving through lots of vineyards, and most of the road south to Patquia was pretty flat and uninteresting.  Then we turned west again and went through some great gorges that woke us up and kept us going on this long loop.  Finally we turned north on Ruta 510, and entered the Talampaya National Park.  This took us through some more amazing rock formations before we finally reached the Visitor Centre where we understood it was possible to camp – And just right on time at 5 pm.  We went in and were stunned to find some really nice adobe buildings, a restaurant, showers (hot), toilets, and much more – All in the middle of nowhere !! So we enjoyed a cold beer in the shade and out of the wind on the verandah before heading out to set up camp.  There is a designated area and we went over there but the wind out here in the desert in the day time is just so strong that we could hardly even put the pop top up, let alone the awning out the back !  So we moved over into the shelter of the toilet block, about 5 feet outside the camping area, but there was no sign to say “No parking”.  No one else at the visitor centre by now except a single night watchman.  No one else camping.  No one else anywhere.

And just after we had got everything set up, pegged out, and were cracking a beer, over he came and told us we couldn’t park there, and we had to move over 5 feet, back into the teeth of the wind again.  I am afraid I did what I do best and spat the dummy big time !  I have to say this is the very first time since we were in Cartagena trying to get our car out of the port that I have met anyone who was so stupid and intransigent – Especially since there wasn’t another soul within 100 miles.  Typical case of what I call “car park attendant” syndrome – Totally inflexible – And he should know, he has a uniform and a peaked cap on !!

Anyway, we moved, and set up again, and then after a quick supper we sat and watched the beautiful sunset over the desert.   Later, when it was dark, the stars were just magnificent as there were no city lights for miles – But it was too late for me, and I was in bed sound asleep !!

Photos are here :-



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