As you follow the course of the Río Grande, the road becomes steeper and steeper. Soon, you run out of names to describe the different shades and colours of the Quebrada hills. Not only do the subtle warm tones catch our attention, but the different textures which time and erosion have designed also fascinate us.
One of the most picturesque hamlets is Purmamarca. Its few blocks of terracotta adobe houses enclose peacefulness. Predictably, the church – built in the 17th century with “cardón” wood – is just opposite the main square, as well as a few handicrafts stalls. A centenarian carob tree is the only silent witness to the village’s hustle, or lack of.
Purmamarca grew under the protection of the famous “Cerro de siete colores” (seven-colour hill). You can go round it on foot or by car if you take the Colorados road, where strange shapes seem to pop up out of the rock.
After leaving this charming village, we start going uphill on the winding and twisting Cuesta de Lipán. At the end of this road we arrive at Salinas Grandes, a breathtaking spot with an unusual landscape that surprises and mesmerises us. There is nothing but salt plains and blue skies. Some times there is some water. And we become one with this boundlessness.
We actually have to make ourselves leave the Salinas. We think that nothing else will amaze us that much. But we are wrong. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, in the lonely Puna, we make out adobe houses, which have an eerie ghostly appearance, even though people do live there.