North Central Argentina 2012
By: Laura Crawford Williams
North Central Argentina is grand, colorful, and truly unique. Our most recent Frontera trip took us back through the Valle Calchaqui and the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Areas used by Incan traders so many years ago. Incan ruins abound in these areas and many of the people here are direct descendants of the Inca.
We visited Pucará de Tilcara, one of the best-known archeological ruins in the Quebrada de Humahuaca and, coincidentally, discovered by German’s grandfather Juan Bautista Ambrosetti. Many of the indigenous people living here, survive as goat herders scraping out a living in the vast high altitude lands of the Puna. The Puna is an eco-region between 10,500 and 16,500 feet found in the central Andes Mountains of South America. It’s a sparsely populated region of mostly dry desert and shrub-lands with the occasional wetland.
We were lucky to have met so many wonderful people, many who invited us into their homes to take a peek at lives we can’t imagine. Most of them lived far below what we consider the poverty line, but they were warm and welcoming, even proud of our interest in their lives. In a couple places, we found children that had been left alone for days while parents tended goats up in the hills or had walked 30 miles into the nearest town for supplies. One group of young women were living alone with multiple children in an almost barren landscape. When we arrived, they were tending their goats, helping mother goats have their babies. We visited the same family last year but this year we brought shoes, warm clothes, candy, and toys as gifts.
We did have a bumpy start as one client missed his flight to Argentina and another had his baggage lost en-route. Unfortunately, they missed the first few days in Tucuman, but we gathered them up in Jujuy and continued on our way. We followed the same route as last June through Jujuy and Salta. We explored salt lakes, colorful deserts, lush wetlands, and grand snow-capped mountains. Everyone had a great time and returned with indelible personal and photographic memories!