Friday, December 16, 2011

Final update for 2011!

So this is it people, our first year spent in Argentina! In 3 hours we will be heading to the Buenos Aires international airport to fly back to Australia for a 1 month holiday of parties, weddings, surfing, feasts, beach bumming, birthdays and friends. We then return in mid January and are off on our next edition of Argentine adventures. We have already booked our next travel destination to El Calafate in January and will definitely be starting 2012 with some great photos of the glaciers and mountains in Patagonia!

So how can I sum up the year here in Argentina- our first year living and working abroad. What words can I use? It has been challenging and amazing and fulfilling! I am looking forward to flying back to our home here and start the next year fresh and full of energy!

My happy place has always been the beach and my family, but without these things here in Argentina close by, it has been my home and happy place to be together with my Chris. Our home is each other together and wherever we are in the world we have our home. I couldn't have done this year without him- I have been so encouraged and supported and loved.
I have an amazing best friend who loves me completely and I LOVE the adventures and experiences we are sharing together. We are so completely blessed, thank you Lord Jesus for my amazing man and the amazing life I get to have- words can't describe why I get to have such a beautiful life- I'm just so thankful! Overwhelmed with the love and goodness we have, I hope I can share this fullness and bring glory to my King.

I write this blog post as the sun is setting here in Quilmes on my little sofa, drinking mate with a big excited smile for the summer holidays ahead. I can't wait for hugs from my mum and dad and sister! Of course I'm looking forward to food fun and my beaches/scuba diving, but just the touching back in my homeland will be something very special!!

Thanks for reading if you have been following and will be updating again in January.

Besos y abrazos mis amigos!
Hasta luego

~ Miki

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2 weeks to go and flying back to Australia!

This thought is mostly occupying my mind at the moment: home to Aus in two weeks for a 1 month holiday with family and friends and beaches and asian food and byron bay and 25th birthday and brother's wedding and family and beaches and food!
okay I could make this list long but it would get repetitive I think! haha

It feels like the first time all year I have some head space and I'm just letting everything go! work is coming to a quick end and I'm so ready to be on the plane flying back to hugs from mum & dad and mama & papa K!! so dang excited!!
Pinamar Beach!
In Carilo- gorgeous
Weekends have remained sunny and last weekend we took off on a coach down the coast for the long weekend. We spent 3 nights in Pinamar which was awesome!! it is about 4 hours South of BA city and we just had such a refreshing time! We also discovered Carilo which is a tiny expensive built town in the wood forest of pine trees.. it's quite magical!! we will be back for rest and recoup next year definately!
But our weekend consisted of lying on the beach, swimming, drinking mate, nice meals out, a little shopping, siestas, more lying on the beach, a 8km walk from Pinamar to Carilo along the beach (didn't think it was that long when we started... but 2 hours later we made it haha...)
We stayed in a great little hotel 100 metres from the beach and just loved every minute!
We got back on the 'micro' (coach) back to Capital in the afternoon feeling very relaxed and couldn't believe in our heads that it was only 3 weeks till being on our Aussie beaches!!
watching the fisherman at the end of the windy peer in Pinamar

We are happy! haha

Watching the southerly come over- drinking mate

Together at Pinamar- great weekend! refreshed
Sunsetting on the coach back to BA
The past week has been busy wrapping up classes, hosting a music event in the theatre (Music Interhouse Competition), late night Salsa dancing on Thursday with friends and Friday night was a big big Graduation fiesta for the students finishing school... honestly it was like a $60,000 dollar wedding set up... I have never seen anything like it!! incredible. these kids come from very very VERY well off homes, and this party showed all that splendour off. Anyway, it was a lot of fun! It started at 9pm Friday night with crazy canapes everywhere, platters, sushi and pasta stations and drinks.... and then at about 12:30am dinner was served and then about 2am dessert was served and we ended up leaving about 3am- the party was warming up and would kick on to 5 or 6am! crazy!
it was a big sleep in the next day for us! haha

So after getting all my reports done I really don't have much left except a afternoon outdoor concert at school called 'Woodstock' which runs for about 2 hours and allows the students to get up and play songs in front of everyone on the grass while they watch a futbol (teachers vs students) match. It will be the last day of school before speech day on Wednesday. and then Thursday and Friday are public holidays! and we will be packing and getting ready for Australia!! woooohoooo

Well I'm off to keep cleaning the house up a bit.. it gets so bombarded during the week with papers and books and clothes everywhere and washing everywhere... I actually like cleaning up my space (remember we have a 1 bedroom apartment.. so not a large space to tidy.. easy work)- it feels fulfilling.. haha

off to the pool today for a swim and lay about studying my spanish and drinking mate. Chris has his final futbol game today with the Odd Socks team. they are having a big asado to finish the year off with the team. We have been at so many 'end of year' asados this past week and more to come this week... won't be hanging out for an aussie steak when we get home.. we are probably getting the best kind of steaks in the world! haha! sooo much meat! SEAFOOD PLEASE! GIVE ME A PRAWN SOMEONE! IT'S BEEN A YEAR! HAHAHA!
okay i'm a little bet mental.. but hanging out for aussie freshness

so to end my obsessed aussie sounds blog. We are so content living here- I haven't felt restless all your. Sure I have felt tired and stressed and missing home at times. But so fulfilled, for the first time I don't feel like I should be anywhere else. It is incredible. Excited for what could be after our time here! who knows where we will go or be? or how we will feel at the end of our final year in this contract?! amazing

chau chau y besitos mis amigos

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Look at the blue sky! Perfect spring weekend!

It has been a fantastic sunny weekend here in Buenos Aires! the birds are singing and I catch the smell of salty sea air in the evenings from the river plate which is so so nice! Oh it makes me eager for my home on the coast in Australia! I miss it so much.
And just as I'm writing this a car with some very loud speakers pumping out cumbia is driving past and bringing me back to the reality of where I live.. in another country.. Argentina. It's an amazing experience!

I guess I wanted to say how blessed I am to have such lovely friends here in Quilmes! Nati is my favourite (not that I have favourites, but she is a super special and beautiful person! I love her a lot!)
Here is  a photo of us near her house in the park demonstrating how to play on one of the homemade park additions! haha- very fun times!
We have been meeting every Wednesday after work at my house or her's and we practice our spanish and english. Her family is beautiful, they are good people and it is an honour to be welcomed so warmly- our family away from home. xo

The pool is back open at school which is pretty special- We can walk down anytime from 2pm to 6pm for swims. Beautiful temperature and getting a little sun kissed is nice.
We also booked flights down to El Calafate (Patagonia) for when we return in January. Gonna be doing some camping and trekking down in the national parks and seeing the amazingness of nature Argentina has to offer- from glaciers to the Andes mountains to natural lakes and springs! exciting!!
We are being very organised with our travel plans!! I am already looking into options for July!
Tango band in the markets

Today was a lovely day with my friend Tara who is a fellow teacher at school. We went on a mission into Capital to lazily walk around the markets in Caminito and in San Telmo. Talk about a busy Sunday of people and tourists- but the weather was perfect and the girly company fantastic. We met up for lunch with more friends and then continued to stroll the cobble stoned street.
Let me tell you- November is indeed the month to travel Buenos Aires!!! It is fantastic weather and really green and pretty!! I love it! All the jacaranda trees are just blooming, but the end of the week, there will be purple carpets of flowers all around the place!! I have one growing right outside my office and the music department- so pretty!

So thank you Tara for the fun adventure! The next few weekends hold some events- we are planning to repaint our bedroom from the medical green colour to white.. (this is a plan people..)
and in 2 weeks will be spending yet another long weekend (there are many long weekends here in Arg) down in Pinamar for the first time in a long time of some ocean goodness!!
Beautiful old church surrounded by the markets in San Telmo

It is all winding down now so fast to the holidays! and in between then and now there is lots going on at school with a big Music Interhouse competition (students representing their house by singing or playing an instrument or being in a band to get points for their house), Woodstock (a student stage/performing opportunity in front of the other students), reports (we all know what those are.. dang), and wrapping up the year!

5 weeks to go!

love miki

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Decent summer weather.. at last!

And summer is properly speaking out loud now! it is excellent waking up and a blue sky is above and the warm morning air pours in. Or the fact that I am walking to school in the sunlight and it is warm and fresh and summery!! I am hearing the same kind of comments from my family and friends in Australia too- It is nice to know we share our weather! I love that.

So today it is 6 weeks exactly- even to the time right now that Chris and I will be touching down in Oz for a month of Australian goodness. Friends, family, surfing, beach bumming, xmas, birthday, weddings, scuba diving, New years celebrations, BYRON BAY, asian food, the beach.. okay I'm starting to repeat myself now...
Just super dooper looking forward to it! Time is going to fly now!

Our garden on the balcony is growing thanks to Peggy upstairs- our friend and fellow teacher who is finishing her life here in Argentina and heading back to England.. She will be missed!!!!! But she gave us some of her awesome plants! THANKS PEGS!

So an update on life here at the moment.. I find that my blog posts have been a little bit rambling of late.. We haven't really adventured anywhere new and grand since our super holiday to Salta and Jujuy... ohhh but we are planning some big ones ahead!
I can't remember if I have said it (I have probably repeated myself 6 times already as I usually tend to do), but Chris and I are booked in for Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail this coming April- CAN'T WAIT!
gonna be amazing!

This week I has some decent adventures on my own however. I got the opportunity to be a student in the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival Vocal Workshop! For 3 evenings this week (Wed, Thurs & Fri) I left school early for some awesome professional development and Musical training! The workshops were taught by an amazing jazz vocal educator, performer and professional- Dominique Eade, who is a lady from Boston, USA. The was AMAZING! wow- it showed me how much more I can learn vocally!! I forgot.. Since teaching fulltime for the past 3 years I haven't had the opportunity to do any training vocally... I am SO KEEN to be learning again! or be apart of a choir or vocal something for me- it was so good! The workshops were in English and had a spanish translator for everyone.
A very cool thing for me was when she was asking for volunteers to sing something and so she could work with as an example of jazz vocal exercises I put my hand up.. So there I am in this beautiful grand Argentinian master class theatre room with its arched high ceiling and led lighter windows, in front of 200 class members and Dominique Eade (The female version of Kurt Elling), singing 'Fly Me To The Moon' the best way I knew how. It was great! so much fun!
Dominique then worked with me in front of everyone for about 20 mins, getting me to sing the song difference ways- focusing on the language (words) and rhythm rather than the melody. It ended up me singing the piece is rebato to really syncopated lento to every note being sung staccato.. It was so challenging and it got to a point where I couldn't remember the melody because the focus was so different.. which was the whole point- getting lost in jazz!! LOVED IT! awesome opportunity! As put a real earnestness in me to do some proper vocal study in the future!

The other cool thing about the three evenings in north Capital was the fact that I had to get myself there- all by myself. I now can navigate well on the public transport and it is awesome! I caught a bus at 3:30 from Quilmes to 'coreo central' and straight off the bus down into the Subte (subway) onto the 'B Line' and 25mins on the Subte to the last stop and then a 10 mins walk to the theatre. It was great! I studied spanish the whole time on the Subte, writing down my verbs (past and present) practicing irregular verbs.. I loved it and feel boosted in my spanish!! I must keep practicing!
I know mum and dad at home in Australia were freaking out thinking I would get taken travelling around Capital by myself. But I was surrounded by lots of people- it was busy- and I was safe! It was very cool!
I wasn't walking around in the dark by myself (just so mum and dad knows! haha)

So that whole experience was fantastic and challenging and has given me an eager desire to properly study some serious jazz vocals! I have the classical training and technique behind me (I should be practicing it more.. as we all should be practicing this skills we love).. but the freedom and technique and exactness that jazz brings is so foreign to me- I'm really just guessing when it comes to jazz and relying on my lucky ear! haha

So back to Quilmes with her smokey morning smells, green trees, many apartment buildings, loud sirens, barking dogs, crazy futbol fans and lazy Sundays- we like living here!

Oh and my bike is still broken! We haven't been able to find the repair shop that we were told about.. So I am walking a lot more everywhere!

There it is.. a hair trim
I also got a hair cut yesterday by a beautiful friend. My hair was long right- I thought I would not cut it all year and rock up to Australia with my hair down to my bottom (which it was!) But I found myself always complaining about it, I was using a TON of hair conditioner to get the nots out and my hair elastics just weren't holding it up anymore.. too much hair! So it got a good trim and now it is bouncy light. I think it is very short- but I know my friend Kat would call me crazy and say it is still so long.
Feeling fresh ready for summer.

So now to get ready for the week- The clothes are washing, the dishes are getting washed, airing out the house and doing a bit of chilling on the couch.
Off to have lunch at our friend's house and then hanging out with my beautiful friend Natalia this afternoon, drinking Mate (strong tea drunk out of a gourd through a metal straw filter thing) all afternoon while walking and practicing our Spanish and English. She is the best!

Lots of love y besitos,
~ Miki

Sunday, October 30, 2011 in Argentina!

At the beginning of our time in Argentina I (Chris) promised to report on two things:

1) Music
2) Soccer

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the music much...and there is a reason for this. Don't get me wrong, the music in Arg is great. So many opportunities to see international artists on the cheap in big stadiums, great jazz and a vibing rock scene. We have been to a few gigs here or there, but we just haven't been that pumped to dig right into it...yet. This has been due to the fact that we are busy doing so many music things at the school, but also because there is a major obstacle in the way for me! And, it starts with F.............Futbol.

It's not only the culturally ingrained madness that comes with the sport that surrounds us (such as 'las inchas' (crazy fans) that pack the streets and let off firecrackers right next to our apartment block every weekend), but also the fact that for the first time in my life I am living only a few hours West of Europe. This means that yesterday, for example, (if I wanted too *clears throat*) I could have woken up and watched live European football from 8am to 6pm, uninterrupted. Ok, that's exactly what I did. I have never had that opportunity before and it was fun! Mika and I needed a day of nothing-ness yesterday, so we blobbed in front of the TV, planned some travel, enjoyed being nerds and had the football on in the background.

Also, I am loving playing football again! Since giving it away a few years ago to focus on music stuff, I have been playing every weekend and often during the week also and am loving it. Our weekend team is playing great and we have won our last 6 games convincingly. I've chucked in a couple of photos 'de la cancha para Uds. ver'. You will also notice some evidence of the TV watching antics in Mikaela's blog below.

Also, my brother Pete sent me a link of a news program in Australia that profiled the football hooliganism in Quilmes, Argentina. In my opinion it is quite inaccurate in a number of ways, but it was kind of bizarre to see an Australian show talking about Quilmes! Click here if you wanna watch: Football hooliganism in Quilmes
P.S. I am loving learning Spanish at the moment...practicing lots at the expense uni study. I've got to finish two essays by mid-Nov for my masters. Nearly one year done which is cool!



Sunday, October 23, 2011

lazy mornings, lunch with friends and 7 more weeks to go!

Sitting here Sunday morning next to Chris after sleeping-in till 9:30, feeling quite groggy. Why is it that when you sleep in you don't wake up refreshed??- I wake up feeling blobby.
But I am welcomed by the space Chris makes in the morning (he wakes up like a light bulb every morning at 7 or 8am).
His space consists of an open laptop with live football updates, an empty cereal bowl and the TV quietly commentating the live European football or Argentinian futbol matches- always commentated in Castellano (Argentine Spanish).
Mornings are Chris' time- and then I come in bleary eyed and plonk down next to him to check the world via facebook and emails.

I have noticed since living abroad I have this habit of every morning opening my laptop to connect with family and friends in Australia-  I don't feel right if I haven't seen people's updated status' or if a friend in Australia has written on my facebook page... I think it is sad, but I think I am also missing my Australian home like crazy.
It is not a depressed missing people feeling- it is a wanting to not feel so far away/missing people feeling... if you can call that a feeling.
It just seems that every morning and night I am starting the day with a square screen and going to bed after viewing the square screen.. I didn't do that before..

The ash is still plaguing the skies here in Buenos Aires. This is the 4th time it is preventing flights in or out of the airports. It is crazy, the skies are this weird overcast look, without it looking cloudy. It better not be around on the 17th Dec for when we are to fly back to Aus for the holidays!
7 weeks (I think..)

It is a big week ahead of afterschool meetings, Music concerts, Choir rehearsals. Last week was fantastic (full but great)- on Thursday after school I ran auditions for next year's Musical that I'll be directing- Mamma Mia. The kids are so excited!! Chris and I have sat down and brainstormed ideas- it will be a lot of work but brilliant fun. looking forward to opening night after all the hours of hard work from everyone!

Also, here are some pictures of the IB Art Exhibition from Friday evening- The creative arts musos came together for a small jazz set of music while people walked around viewing the art- like a mini cocktail evening. It was so nice to sing again- I mean I sing all the time but not for me or not from me. Not where I am singing to tell a story or connect with other musicians or evoke emotion and express myself. It was fun! and we all went cocktail style- me in my black dress and hair all done. Fun times!

(the photos are mostly for my beautiful grandparents).

Love to everyone- wish I had another travel adventure to update- but normality is swinging around here. We need to clean the house a little this morning and then we are heading over to our friends house for lunch! I am teaching my beautiful friend Natalia how to make muffins and banana bread- which is not common here in Argentina!! We teach each other Spanish and English and it's great! I am blessed to have such a great friend in my life here!

~ Love Miki

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Orange poppyseed cake and a spontaneous trip with Chris!

We both hit this weekend like a bomb- sleep-ins, long lay-ins, existing all Sunday in my pyjamas... we were completely clapped out and Chris had a nasty throat infection.. and were so thankful to have 2 days to rest up for another week of school.

9 more weeks and we are back in Aus for holidays and fun with family, friends and my beloved beaches!!
Very VERY excited!
and sure, there is 9 more weeks of school- but it is going to fly and in the meantime we have more weekends ahead of adventuring around here in Buenos Aires, more time learning Castellano, hanging out with the beautiful friends we have made here, enjoying the warmer weather that is coming through and making all the trees green again!

By the river in Tigre
So this weekend was restful, we also woke up on Saturday morning to decide that we wanted to go on a random spontaneous adventure- go somewhere new and try different things!
We took it easy and left the house at about 11am- caught the train from Quilmes to Constitution- Subte (subway) from Constitution to Retiro station- Retiro to Tigre! It cost both of us together $4 to get to Tigre by public transport, it was great!

In Tigre

My lovely husband in Tigre

Tigre means 'tiger' en Castellano.. I don't know why they call it Tigre, it is a river town with lots of canals and pretty riverside walks. But the highlight was discovering their markets!!! oooo it was fun! the best part of the day was finding a shady spot right on the river, sipping our mate and listening to some live jazz played by a guy on a saxophone- relaxing!
Out of all the market goodies we walked away with sun-dried tomatoes, an empty cool shaped glass jar and dried coloured flowers wrapped in brown paper.

I have two favourite things to my list of favourite goodies-
1. Carry flower wrapped in brown paper- it made me feel so pretty- is that childish and strange of me?
2. Today I soaked the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water with fresh garlic for 20mins- then dried them off and put them in my new glass jar, filling it with extra virgin olive oil. It was some homemade, Italian, fresh goodness I felt all good on the inside.

Tigre was fun, and we were so tired from walking around in the heat all day- we got back on the train intending to head back to Capital- but remembered we were passing Belgrano station, which has China town!!! 2 stops away, we decide to get off in Belgrano to explore China town at night! and so so glad we did, it was a highlight of our day!! We went to one of the many asian supermarkets 'Casa Chino' which had EVERYTHING! and we went a little food mad and bought lots of goodies! im so happy because I now have 4 packets of rice paper rolls- you can't get them anywhere else but in China town!! also sesame oil, 2 minute noodles, chai tea, poppy seeds and other goodies! we even found Feta cheese and tofu! but couldn't refrigerate for the trip home.
We then had dinner at a swishy Japanese restaurant- I am in love with ceviche!!

Belgrano had such a great vibe!! We will be back in a weekend coming for sure to do some more exploring- and so easy to catch the subte and bus and everything!

Other weekends that we have had since my last update have been cool as well. In the last couple we have had to be at school for school event like Founder's Day (running a live music stage all day) and evening concerts. Now with that settling down, we hope to have more energy for hanging with friends.

We did go bowling together one weekend which was fun! I lost.. but not by much hehe.

clever Chris won the game

look how many times we missed!!! I almost thought we need bumpers! haha

We also have some beautiful friends that we hang out with and they invited us on a picnic with their family to a big big park called 'Parque Pereyra Ireola' or something like that.. it is acres and acres and acres of parkland where 100's of local families come and have picnics! it was amazing. but the best bit was being with our new friends and family over here. It an honour to hang with such genuine people.

So, am I practicing my Castellano- more now, but could be practicing harder! I have help from my friend Nati who I am meeting with once a week to practice and drink mate with. I love her! and I love learning spanish... I am finding it hard to remember all these new words- It is like it goes in one ear and out the other... I will keep trying!

Today as I sit here in my pj's all day (I'm not embarrassed, we all do this sometimes people)- I have been looking up tour companies for the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu and think I have found the right company!
They are called 'Peru Treks' and had the best price for the 4 day/3 night trek! If anyone has gone with them or heard anything let me know- I have looked at all reviews and read sooooo many things and different companies! It is so exciting!
If anyone wants to come trekking with us in 2012 from the 30th April to 4th May, let us know!

My favourite heladeria- Via Cosenza en Quilmes!!  CHOCOLATE ESPECIAL!!!!
Just thought I would include another photo of an INCREDIBLE ice cream here in my hometown of Quilmes... this is by far the best ice cream I have ever had in my life- I eat this at least once a week... my head keeps telling me "be careful miki... get your ice cream butt to the gym"! eeek.. but I am totally enjoying life in the moment of eating this ice cream! hahaha
I just looked at how psychotic I look.. baahahahaa.. this one is for you mum... you have raised an ice cream monster... haha!

Today, I made orange and poppyseed cake for the first time! it was good...apart from the fact that the middle fell out and oozed everywhere... yea so it wasn't cooked in the middle.. but it tasted good! hahaha and the outside area was cooked good! but man it was funny to turn it upside down and see my cake start oozing poppyseed batter all over the board! haha I licked it up no problem!
Easy as to make! get yaself some poppyseeds and go wild everyone! haha

chat soon,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'm a first timer... in Salta & Jujuy

So we can tick off our travel list the 2 provinces of Argentina- Salta and Jujuy.
The only luggage needed for our week escape!

There was a lot of first time experiences for me:
The Salt Flats in Jujuy- 'Salinas Grandes'
- Driving in Argentina (first time in 8 months behind the wheel.. loved it)
- Walking next to cactus' twice my height
- Coming face to face with a 1000 of year old Incan mummy of a 15yr old girl, perfectly preserved, colour in her clothes, skin on her face, braids still neatly plaited in her hair... incredible
- Standing on kilometres of salt
- Waking up with a view of the mountains and sunrise to perfect and natural
- Eating llama
- Being up so high on a mountain- 4100 metres altitude
- Sitting in a natural thermal spring in Argentina (designed like a swimming pool... but with beautiful natural hot water!! loved it!)
- Discovering how connected Northern Argentina is to Incan culture and the road leading from Salta to Machu Picchu in Peru!
- Eating the best damn Locro of my life (In Salta everyone!! Locro is like a meaty hearty stew with beans and goodness.. oh it was good! haha)
- Watching the colours change on the rocky coloured mountains- green, grey, brown, yellow, purple, red, pink, orange.. amazing!
- Talking fluently in spanish to a local hippy who made for me, in front of me, some really cool rings!
- Regularly sipping mate in the park, in the car, by a lake, walking down the street..
One of Salta's Cathedrals! 'Catedral'
- Standing in a 140 yr old Cathedral in Salta
- Getting a parking fine in Jujuy town and going on the biggest mission to pay it off... it was only $30 pesos (US$7) so it wasn't so bad.. but effort.. gosh was it effort!
- Purchasing earthen wears in Tilcara, a very historical mountain town full of Incan culture, Argentinian Indigenous people and lots of mountains, rocks and cactuses!
- Constantly driving on rocky dirt roads
- Staying in an amazing little Cabana with a fire crackling and smelling good and casting a romantic glow over the room as we fall to sleep.
- Having my shampoo explode in my bag because we went up so high in altitude going from Salta to Tilcara (lucky I used a plastic bag.. or could have been a messy disaster)
- Realising how out of date the prices are in our Argentinian lonely planet guide... the prices on accommodation and food stated in the book are not accurate.. they are now double the price! (which is still cheap.. just not THAT cheap)
- Travelling to the North West of Argentina! Salta and Jujuy (two 'states' or they call them 'provinces' of Argentina! IT WAS AWESOME!

Mate at night in the 'La Plaza de 9 de Julio' - The 9th of July Park- Main square in Salta

So that is our trip in a nutshell.
I cannot say enough about how amazing our accommodation was in Tilcara (and if you are going to Salta, then Tilcara is a place to see!!) we stayed at 'Cerro Chico' which is like saying 'Little Mountain' I guess... but it was PERFECT! for US$70 a night... it was incredible!! you could easily pay more it was just so good!! I was totally our style but super comfortable, and the fireplace and amazing mountains surrounding us just made it!
Here are some photos.
Our cabaƱa- No. 4

Our little salamander for our fire!! romantic!

our view!! beautiful
Our mapped out route- Salta up to Tilcara
Let me highlight the route we took for you. We went to the North of Salta.. we only had really Tuesday to Friday (4 days with the car) starting in Salta and having to finish in Salta. We hired a car, which is TOTALLY the way you should do a trip in this amazing place!! Sure you can get comfy coaches everywhere.. but they are packed full with tourists and the drives are long. It was so nice having the freedom to take detours, stop where we want and where we stayed in Tilcara needed a car as well because we were 1-2kms on a little dirt road just out of the town centre (which was perfect).
With only 4 days with the car, we chose to see the Northern areas of Salta and Jujuy... We were told that the South with Cafayate and Cuchi are incredible and the drive is supposed to be one of the most scenic ever, but we just didn't have the time- we would easily come back and do this in the future!
But there is still so much of Argentina to experience- and SOOOO much of South America to explore!
The five places in Argentina we have explored- Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Iguazu and now Salta & Jujuy
Day 1- Arrival in Salta (pm)- Monday
Catedral en el noche- Cathedral at night
Monday Night we arrived in Salta, we went with a small car hiring company that was much much cheaper than Hertz car hire.. we paid for 400kms a day (we thought we were going to drive super far and forever) but we should have paid for 200kms a day which would have been MUCH cheaper!! but now we know and we learnt what to pay for next time. The car was ready and waiting for us at the airport in Salta and we navigated our own way to our little hostel in Salta (Yatasto Hostel).
It was a friendly clean place which I thought was a little expensive for a hostel but it was good!

Day 2- Salta to Tilcara- Tuesday
In the car we get and off we go to Tilcara... we went the loooooonnngg winding scenic route around the back mountains of Salta to Jujuy, which took double the time then if we had gone on the freeway... It was nice, but too slow and long and winding...the best stuff/views started after Jujuy city! So go the freeway people! The roads were soooo narrow it was ridiculous! but it was sooo good driving, we hadn't driven since being in Australia which was 8 months was excellent!
Rest stop by the lake- after passing the boarder
between Salta and Jujuy

We made a lunch stop in a mountain town called 'Purmamaca' which is where the mountains were really spectacular. This town is at the foot of the famous 'Cerro de siete colores'/'Mountain of seven colours' we were there at 1pm.. and it was beautiful, but not AMAZING...the sun wasn't dancing on the mountain face, so the colours weren't as bold.. look at the difference in these photos!
Cerro de siete colores a las 13:00
Cerro de siete colores a las 9:30
Morning is the time to see this little town ppl!! on the way to the salt flats!
Anyway, we arrived in Tilcara at our amazing cabanas and relaxed.. we went into sleepy relaxed mode, lying in the sun, playing guitar, drinking mate... we went and explored the centre of Tilcara.
Incredible driving- into cactus country! Very dry and rocky the higher up you go
Purmamaca markets
Relaxing at Cerro Chico- Tilcara
Our morning view from our bed
Cerro Chico
Cerro Chico- Chris with the Llamas
Day 3- Tilcara to the Salinas Grandes - Wednesday
We thought it was a 20 min drive to the salt plains from Tilcara.. but it was nearly 2 hours drive! and it was a SPECTACULAR drive... you would not want to do this in a tourist bus!! no way.. not around all those winding mountain roads up up up to 4100 mts and then down down down to the salt flats... it was incredibly picturesque! You have to go past the 7 coloured mountain in Purmamaca (glorious in the morning.. so many tourist buses, it is the best time to see it!), and then up and up and up we drove! We drove next to cliffs that were so high and amazing... and then on the road we actually drove above those cliffs and was looking down on them!!
Clever photography- perspective!! haha!! this is how we travel in Argentina!
We then arrived at the salt flats.. was so quiet and no living thing. It had one building in the middle of the road.. not much good vibes going.. but we had fun, got out the car and took some very very fun photos. It is crazy to think that this whole area was once probably a huge natural salt lake! and now our world has changed so so much.

This was a great day!
We went back to Tilcara for lunch, walked through the Incan ruins.
Ate llama steak for dinner, which tastes like beef really.. and that night we went to the main plaza (park/square) and bought some beautiful earthen/ceramic dishes, a jug...that are still used in Tilcara and are still made the same way, the same shape and design as the Incans did thousands of year ago. It is amazing how the Incan culture is alive and rich in this place- sure it is pushed a little more because of tourists... but when we saw the archaeological Incan findings and remains... it is the same.. amazing!

Yay I'm in my shoe!
My little husband on the bonnet of our car doing an Irish dance!
Day 4- Tilcarra to Jujuy- Thursday
Would not want to land on one of these!
We checked out of Cerro Chico and left Tilcara not really knowing where we were going to stay that night or where we wanted to go. We hadn't pre booked this night just thinking we would make a plan as we drove, which is what we did. We read in lonely planet that there was a place called 'Termas de Reyes- Aguas Calientes' which is the Kings Thermals- Hot waters. It was about 15mins out of Jujuy town centre. You take a road off the main highway and it leads you into a natural, lush valley between green mountains. It was so relaxing and good, parking under a shady tree and spending a couple of hours drinking mate and swimming in the hot thermal waters from the mountains!! we laid in the sun like lizards, relaxed, swam.... our skin was amazing after being in this water!! I am so into natural thermal waters!! awesome- and not many people about, so it was very tranquil and not touristy!
We then drove into the town centre of Jujuy which is the city of this province. It wasn't a 'city' more like a country town with lots of people and cars... it was the 'day of students' (like mother's day but for students) so all kids were out of schools and there was music on the streets into the night! We stayed in a lovely lovely old mansion house that had been done up, it was very nice! and we walked around at night- it was so safe and friendly and the people were beautiful- it had a great vibe (una buena onda!)

Incan fortress ruins in Tilcara
In Tilcara at the Incan ruins
Day 5- Jujuy to Salta- Friday
The usual 'Helados' (ice cream) shot! haha
Leaving Jujuy around 11am.. we had left our car in a pay parking spot on the street and at been there 1 hour without buying a ticket.. so we got fined.. it SUCKED! Not knowing where we really were and the process in order to pay it.. we had to find the local municipality office to pay our fine.. the later we left it, it would get bigger, and we couldn't leave it to the car company to pay... so off we went with our bad spanish skills and actually got it all paid and done within an hour! amazing! we thought we would be in cues for HOURS waiting, or get lost and not be able to find the building. but it was success!
We took the freeway back from Jujuy to Salta which was only an hour drive.. not 2-3hrs! haha
Back in Salta we decided to stay our last night back at the Hostel Yatasto.. it was cheap and on a quiet street. we had lunch at a small mexican place which had THE BEST mexican we have had yet!! it was so good we went back there for dinner! simple and healthy and tasty and goood! haha. we also went to the Archaeological Mountain Museum in the main square of Salta which was a highlight!!! The Incan history is incredible! I had no idea of it's significance in Northern Argentina. We came face to face with a 15yr old girl mummy. She was a child sacrifice to the Incan God's where they choose the best looking, healthy and highly respected child (son or daughter of the chief most likely), take them on a pilgrimage to Maccu Picchu and back and then drug them up and bury them alive, fully adorned and buried with prized objects so that the Incan Gods would bless the people. It was a most honourable ritual, and one that I just can't understand. It was sad and looking into this 1000 yr old child's face, I had no words... it was so fascinating. This was a little girl, sacrificed for her people. The museum as a whole was amazing and explained everything really well! Even the little dolls and materials and pots that were buried with the children were perfectly preserved, the colours still so vibrant and the painting on the ceramics so clear, incredible.
The car was picked up at 8:30pm that night. No problems, too easy.

Day 6- Salta to Buenos Aires- Saturday
To the airport and then an easy flight (2hrs) back to Capital. A remis (a private taxi from Quilmes) home and it was great to be back.
For the first time, it actually feels like we have a home here. And now with summer coming and the warmer weather, the green on the trees, walking around in thongs (flip flops for those who aren't aussies) and eating way to much ice cream then we ought to...
Lift is good.

Will update again soon.
All my love,

~ Miki