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October 17, Purmamarca



Heading north along the Lerma valley we encounter impressive scenery.







And rock formations








This little mound had an interesting-looking cairn on top.






João rode gaily up—and discovered a nasty drop-off on the other side. His stop was sensibly rather sudden, if somewhat undignified. But he wasn’t the first to dump his bike—and wouldn’t be the last.






The view down from the cairn, looking at the entrance to the Amphitheatre, leading off from the main road.







The Amphitheatre is a blind gorge, 100 metres tall. That motorcycle entering the gorge looks pretty small in comparison.










The gorge was carved by water, spilling down the other end from way up there. It’s quite dark in the gorge, but the pictures have been lightened so you can see the people and the bikes. It is cylindrical in shape, open only to the sky and through the very narrow throat. Symphony orchestras play here sometimes because of the amazing acoustics.







It’s hard to convey how far away the top is up there.








Madeleine and Ann look like midgets at the bottom.










Tourists come here, so the souvenir seller is not far behind.










Going further north, the countryside becomes less arid, and we find a pleasant little stop for a snack.






They were playing Madeleine’s favourite Argentinean CD when we entered, so this place got top marks. Scrumptious desserts, too.






Following the leader through Salta. Not getting lost in Salta is a bonus.






Up a one-lane mountain road.








The scenery is gorgeous, but you have to watch out for cows.







On the road.







And blind corners with cars hogging the road. Nobody actually collided with the car but one bike had to stop abruptly, and kind of leaned into the car. The owner of the car is ranting and raving about damage to his car.






No-one wants to call the police—assuming they would even be interested. The owner most likely has no insurance, and the group doesn’t want to spend the inordinate amount of time it would take. So, after much more ranting and raving on both sides, the matter is settled.






The group takes the opportunity to take a breather, and wait for the rest to arrive.







In dribs.








And drabs.








Brian and Marilyn said they were taking pictures of cows. Right.







Purmamarca is a quiet, traditional Andean village in northern Argentina, at the foot of the Hill of Seven Colours. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.





The wide dry riverbed in Purmamarca is a rushing torrent during the rainy season. It has been constructed with protective gabion walls to mitigate the effect of periodic floods.  







Staked gabion baskets and berms help prevent erosion of the banks.








All the surrounding hills have contrasting layers.











And subtle colours.









But the Hill of Seven Colours is the most famous.










In the town square the handcraft market is closing up shop.








These two chilly girls are waiting for a ride home. As the sun goes down in the Andes, so does the temperature.






The goods will be safe until morning.








A thousand-year-old carob tree. Note the cross on top of the hill on the right.








A closer view of the gnarled old tree.










The assistant photographer girl is quite chilly too.







Purmamarca church entrance.






Church interior. Sometimes the cardón cactus is used instead of wood for making furniture. Here the underside of the stairs to the pulpit is made of strips of cactus. Although not visible in the photograph, several of the kneelers were repaired with cactus.






Closer view of the altar.







The official Team Speed photographer is eyeing the church.








And fiddles with his camera a bit.







The Purmamarca cemetery.







More cemetery.







A couple of the less shy villagers. The inhabitants of the altiplano (high plains) and the Andean mountains are generally very reserved. They hold closely to their traditional way of life.







Our luxurious hotel, appropriately named The Fountain of Silence.







The official photographer crashes.