Our last week of volunteer work in Salta is now upon us, and we have a lot to do before we finish – complete our projects, write final reports, have our exit interviews, and more.
Argentina on Sunday was again in the grip of election fever, this time for the national elections, after weeks of campaigning. Every flat surface was been plastered with posters, which were then covered over with rival posters or defaced with unflattering amendments. Interestingly, all politicking ceased, by law, on Thursday night, presumably to allow two days of quiet reflection before the vote. It looks like the Kirschner party has lost some seats, so the prospect of a change in the constitution to allow Christina to run for a third term has receded. The local political scene is still firmly in the grip of the pro-Kirschner/Peronist party which, to the outsider looks like a family affair. The State Governor’s brother, and the city mayor’s daughter have both been elected to the national Chamber of Deputies (equivalent to the House of Representatives) – very cosy. Argentinians are compelled to vote in their elections, so many were traveling on Sunday to the place where they are registered, and many businesses were closed.
|Planting herbs in the comedor garden wall|
|Children at play at the ANPUY center (where Lin works)|
|Ancient wine press made of leather, designed for stomping|
|Rail line to Chile through the mountains|
Today (Sunday) we took the local bus (US $0.30 for a 55-minute ride) to the little town of Campo Quijano at the foot of the Andes. It is particularly well known as the place where the Tren de las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) starts its ascent of the Andes, from 4000 feet to over 14,000 feet in about 80 miles. The track is used only once a week by a train designed for tourists – the rest of the time it makes an excellent hiking trail, though few people seem to take advantage of it. Incidentally, the track, which is a marvel of engineering was designed by a Philadelphia-born engineer, Richard Maury. We enjoyed a peaceful and gently rising hike along the track, surrounded by interesting birds, trees in flower, small farms, and increasingly desolate mountain slopes. We were told that condors are occasionally sighted, but we did not walk far enough into the mountains to reach their habitat.
With the prospect of our work coming to an end, we are looking forward to 12 days or so of traveling round northwest Argentina. We will travel by local buses and stay in the clean, comfortable – and cheap – hostels of which every town seems to have a wide choice.
|Gaucho girl in Salta's central square|
|Curious cow near the railroad track|
|Old steam engine from Peru-Chile line|
|Making dough for empanadas in Campo Quijano|
|Odd birds beside the railway line|
|Whistling heron - though it did not whistle for us.|