Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gypsy Train - Mendoza to Salta - the first few days

Today, my friends, is a very sad day. Today is the day we must disembark the gypsy train. However, not all is lost, we will still be hanging out with the crew for another few days before starting our epic bus ride up to Cuzco in time for the inca trail. jhjk

The last two weeks have provided many exciting times, wonderful adventures and awe inspiring views - i will try and keep it somewhat concise....maybe, haha.

Our crew had changed slightly since the trip to Mendoza. Carla headed off on her own to see more of Argentina and Zach, one of the owners of the bus made a last minute decision to go back to Buenos Aires to live. This left Alex and Aleana - the other two owners of the bus, Bianca and I, Jonny our other gypsy trainer from BA and two new arrivals - two Aussie sisters who live on the sunny coast. Slightly sleep deprived and eager to get out of Mendoza, we piled into the bus ready to live out some more gypsy dreams.

The first day we drove to the Chillian boarder to check out Puente del Inca (the inca bridge) and Aconcagua (Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 m). The Inca Bridge is an epic red rock formation that forms a natural bridge with hot springs flowing underneigh it - unfortunately we weren´t able to go for a swim. Especially as it was absolutely freezing with an icy wind threatening to blow us over at any moment - a vast difference to the warm sunny days we enjoyed in Mendoza.
We wanted to go for a hike to the base of Aconcagua, however the park ranger told us with the extreme weather conditions it was not advisable. So we contented ourselves with attempting to view the mountain from the lookout point (whilst battling to stay upright against the wind) - however it was so cloudy that we could barely see it! In retrospect it was definitely a good thing we didn´t go hiking, as shortly after we set up camp it started snowing!! Definitely had not packed for this kind of cold!!

The next day we were beaten by the elements again. Having left the Inca bridge behind we headed slowly north and into Parque National el Leoncito for the promise to star gazing at an observatory. The park was the nicest we stayed at, well maintained and the staff were great - also free entry & camping, showers and wifi, unheard of at any other national park we visited! After dinner we all piled into the bus, excited to see some contallations and planets,  however when we arrived we were told it was too cloudy and that we couldn´t do it. Dissapointed, but not disheartened we went back to camp and stared at the stars inbetween the clouds.

The first two days seemed to be a journey of things we couldn´t do.  The third day however, we woke up to a beautiful blue sky, with an amazing view of the mountains. Moving forever north, with the promise of more star gazing, we were not discouraged.

A mass of snow peaked mountains surrounded the vast dusty, dry landscape we were driving though. Dust filled the gypsy train, with everything and everyone on it being covered with a fine film of brown dirt. The only green to be seen was in the shurbs that covered the desert-like landscape - but even they were struggling with the brown dust that covered them. Everything on the gypsy train shuddered and shook and we drove a few hundred kms down this dusty dirt road. Only seeing other forms of life every 20 minutes or so, by way of cars driving in the opposite direction. No other forms of civilisation to be seen.
We encountered a massive dried up salt lake and left the bus to explore. We found out, through Aleana tasting it, that it did not infact taste like salt. It was hard to imagine that this massive spance of cracked yellow earth, surrounded by desert and mountains used to home a body of water.

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