Rt. 9 - The Pan American Highway

After leaving Salta, we took Rt 9, the Pan American Highway, across a small mountain range to the desert near the Bolivian border.

A shrine to El Gauchito Gil (Antonio Mamerto Gil Núñez), who died in 1878. He fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy landowner, who accused him of robbery and tried to have him killed. After fighting in two wars (and deserting the second one), he was tracked down and killed. He told the cop who was about to kill him that his son was seriously ill and would die if he were killed. The cop killed him, then went home to find his son seriously ill. Frightened, the cop prayed to El Gauchito, and his son recovered.

Whisky and cigarettes are popular offerings.

 

Horse parking outside a restaraunt in the tiny village of La Caldera, where we stopped for lunch.

 

Modern-day gauchos. They were texting. We missed the jinteada (rodeo) by a day.

 

 

Lunch: humitas (square tamale) and chicha (corn beer).

 

Statue of Jesus on a hill overlooking the town.

 

In Buenos Aires, Rt. 9 is an 8-lane freeway. Here it's not fully two lanes wide. We got pulled over at a couple of identity checkpoints, where they record drivers licenses and vehicle IDs...not sure why. The cops were super friendly. Pelusa complemented the cops on the CDs they were playing. Gautam tells me that they used to be corrupt and ineffectual...now they've been reformed and and trying to get some respect back.

At one of the stops, there was a banner for a town festival including a "disk jokey".

(Gautam: The Pan American Highway continues to Alaska except for the notorius Darian Gap between Columbia and Panama) Rin supplies Keat's poem for those less erudite than Gautam:

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien

 

There are many shrines along the road. Some are to a local (uncannonized) saint who died of thirst. Plastic bottles of mineral water are a popular offering.

 

Cresting the mountain

 

To Purmamarca