Purmamarca

 

Lonely goat on the road down the hills to the desert.

 

We stayed in a green lodge built by a friend of Gautam (who wasn't in residence).

 

View from back porch of lodge.

 

 

This one is called the "Hill of Seven Colors". When she saw how beautiful the desert is, Pelusa, who has an emotional nature, sang the national anthem and burst into tears. (Gautam disputes this.)

 

 

 

Levitating above a cactus garden.

 

Pelusa insisted on driving up a little dirt road to nowhere. At the end we found this school. You're seeing the entire building, faculty and student body. The kids are from nomadic goatherding families that have 8,000 years experience at the trade. Their language includes words from Spanish and Quecha, (the language of the Inca invaders from the North), but predates both.

The teacher grew up in this area, moved away and became middle class, then moved back to teach. He had in spades that warmth and devotion that I've learned to associate with Argentianians.

(Gautam: Palusa , whose mother was a school teacher, attended a rural school lke this one, in the Pampas. It made her nostalgic, especially how the children sang an anthem to the flag, something she had not heard since her early childhood, burst into tears. Gautam, who is emotional and claims to be a cry baby, shed more tears of his own.)

The kids were, um, not comfortable around strangers. The guys were giving us looks of abject terror. The girls were a little more at ease.

The school is solar powered. (Gautam: There is separate electric company that provides electricity to dispersed users, by installing and maintaining solar systems, and billing users a monthly fee according to system size and power. This approach is better than aid programs where someone just donates the solar system, and walks away. We saw solar systems on the roofs of isolated houses all over Jujuy, so the process seems to be working, a dozen years since it was proposed.)

 

All the parks in the region have this sign, which was discretely translated into English as "Keep off the grass".

(Gautam: Pisar means "to pass". I don't see your point.)

 

 

Coca leaves advertised between the sunglasses and caps. Meant to get some, but Gautam radiated enough disapproval that I kept putting it off. He says it's due to a Hindu upbringing. Purity and all that.

(Gautam: In Indian films, if in one scene someone is shown with a glass of something alcoholic, the next scene shows him/her as an alcoholic.)

But there's no Catholic guilt in the country. Everything's forgiven! In the Salta airport, Gautam pointed out a book "Sin as God Commands: A Sexual History of Argentina".

So different from the US! Pelusa tells me that Catholics aren't into the Pope, hierarchy and rules, but into loving, and helping the poor.My observation (in explaining the US in Australia) is that American Christianity takes all its cues from the Old Testament, using belief in Jesus as a surrogate for tribal membership.

Stereotype-busting Indian kids playing chess at in the plaza crafts market.

(Gautam: Chess of course originates in the other India. The pieces have different names: it is the Prime Minister, not the Queen, who yields the most power, much as in government.)

 

(Gautam: After 5 years in England and 15 in the USA, I had trouble in Mexico adjusting to a society without the work ethic. I was told that the goal of ancient Greece was “ocio” meaning idleness or contemplation, and “negocio” its negation. In Spanish today, “ocio” has the same meaning, and “negocio” means “business”. Could it have been the same in English: “busy-ness”?)

Typical Argentine breakfast: pies, pastries, croissants, ham and cheese. It was a battle of food vs. walking 8 hrs each day. Walking won--I dropped 1.5 lb on the trip.

To my horror, the restaraunt didn't open for dinner until 8:30PM. I feel Argentina got screwed: they inherited the late dinner, but not the siesta that makes dinner late.

 

Indigenous dinner: goat cheese with two kinds of corn. This is what corn looks like before it was domesticated. The corn on the left looks and tastes like hominy, but is off the cob. We got serenaded by a hippie folk group, then met a French father and son on a one-year bonding tour, and a lady from Madrid.

(Gautam: Aren't those lima beans? Rin: I asked! You said they weren't! Anyway, they're white, not green.)

 

To Big Salt