All in South America

Paris 1

Weather has finally broken. Distinctly chillier, wind picking up and skies overcast for the first time since we arrived. Rain forecast for tomorrow but we have had a very good run so can't complain about our change of fortune.

Yesterday we were up early for a run out to Clingancourt, the very large Paris flea market in the northern suburbs. Since we had a dinner party planned for the evening and needed to get back in time to shop, prepare the apt for guests and organize the meal, we decided to arrive at the market an hour later than the official opening time of 8 am. Jane, V and I took the subway out and arrived shortly after 9 to find that most of the vendors did not feel the same urgency....

Puna - Days 13 &14

Long, long day. Packed up and off early for our drive which will be 350k but will take at least 8 hours since there are no paved roads. The first couple of hours were through enormously wide expanses and fields of basalt froth which were blown out of the multiple volcanoes that dot the landscape as far as the eye can see off in the distance. Our track passes along the edges of waves of this material whose height reaches about 2 or 3 metres and which appears to be a black rocky foam filled with air bubbles. It would be impossible to make a road over or through it so we skirt the edge of the basalt lava flow which is so hard that edges are still razor sharp after a million years....

Puna - Day 12

Fabulous sunset last night but we were so late getting in to our hotel, El Piñon, and getting settled in that we didn't get any shots. Feeling the altitude. Yesterday in Cafayete we were at about 1700 metres. Getting to the Puna yesterday we climbed and when we crossed the mountain pass that took us to Catamarca province in the Puna region we were, and are, at 3500 metres. When concentrating on other things altitude not particularly noticeable, but I woke up a couple of times last night very aware of being short of breath and of the need to breathe more deeply. V and I both have prescriptions for a drug that is supposed to minimize altitude symptoms which we were to have started taking two days before altitude....

Puna - Day 11

Adolfo arrived at 8:30 and we set off. Long drive ahead of us and we will climb up the mountain pass into the Puna late in the day. Paved roads and good driving up the Calchaquíes valley. Smaller fields under agriculture, clearly family run, rather than the large industrial plantings that we have seen the last two days, both tobacco and vineyards. As well lots of mixed grazing, sheep, goats an some cattle....

Puna - Day 10

Not sure what to expect in the next 5 0r 6 days. Have done some research and digging around but except in the most general sense, haven't yet got a good feel for the conditions, the landscape in the region that we are driving through or how and where we will be spending our days and nights. All will be revealed today by Adolfo, our driver, and we are both very excited at what we will be seeing and where we are going....

Puna - Day 9

Picked up from the Sheraton and delivered to the Iguazu airport for our flight to Salta. Two hour flight north and west and arrived at about 2:00; met in Salta by Adolfo who will be our driver and guide for the next 6 days as we work our way across the Puna.

Had heard lots of good things about Salta; old and well-preserved colonial city; clean and filled with interesting architecture; and the best empanadas in Argentina...