This past weekend I took a four day trip to Salta, a town in northwest Argentina. Salta is located in a beautiful valley with the Andes to the west and more mountains to the east. My first night I rented a car so that I could drive to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the oldest town in Argentina, and a few National Parks. I noticed that the breaks on the car were squeaky but I didn't think anything of it. On Friday, my first full day in the Andes I drove to Las Salinas Grandes on a 4-wheel drive road that was absolutely beautiful. I saw the sunrise between two mountains and then traveled through the brightly colored mountains into the desert. I passed by a few small towns located along the road that were tucked into the side of the mountains and then arrived at Salinas Grandes (the salt lakes). When I first saw them I was looking out my side window at them (and stupidly not looking ahead of the car) and I ran into a big chunk of soft sand. So of course the car got stuck in the sand and I had to get out and I started trying to dig the car out. I was calculating the amount of time that my water would last me and how long it would take for someone to find me when luckily a man drove by and got the car out for me. I continued on to a bridge that looked over Salinas Grandes and got out and tasted the salt. From there I drove over more mountains and along a beautiful canyon that led to the town of Pumarca. Pumarca is one of the towns in the UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located in "The Seven Color Hill" which is a mountain that is green, yellow, purple, pink, orange, red, and brown. After passing through Pumarca I went to through Quebrada de Hunahuaca, which is the valley with beautiful colored rock formations along the sides of it to the town of Hunahuaca. Hunahuaca is a town that has many native crafts and is great for shopping and experiencing local culture. The next day (Saturday) I drove through the jungle and then into the mountains on a windy road that was thousands of feet high to get to the National Park Los Cardones. Which is a National Park created to protect the Cardones cactus. After driving through the National Park (which had a beautiful view of the Andes Mountains) I went to the oldest town in Argentina, Cachi. I left Cachi and planned on continuing my journey and going to Cafayate. However, on my way down the mountain my breaks went out. I had noticed that they sounded like metal on metal all day but I figured I couldn't do anything about it out in the middle of nowhere. When my breaks went out I put the car into first gear and grabbed the emergency break. My car skidded to the side and one wheel went over the edge on the mountain. I was really really shaken up at this point and had to drive the car down the mountain in first gear. (It was a beautiful drive though). When I got to the bottom of the mountain my tire exploded. I wasn't strong enough to change it so finally a German man drove by and changed it for me. While he was changing it he looked at my breaks and told me that I didn't have any breaks left and that the tires on my car were so old that you could see the inner layer of the tire. At this point I was just plain mad. I couldn't go to Cafayate as I had planned and the company had sold me a car that had no breaks and bad tires knowing I was going into the mountains. I drove back to Salta and reported the company to the tourist police. The police accompanied me to the car company and I used all of my angry Spanish words that I knew on them. They apologized and refunded me all of my money. The next day I hired a guide to take me to Cafayate and we drove through a beautiful canyon and then went to a few vineyards and tasted some Torrontes wine (which is the famous wine of the region). It was a very relaxing day and quite nice after the adventurous days I had experienced before. Overall the weekend was absolutely amazing. I am very happy that I rented a car because I was able to stop whenever I wanted to explore and take pictures. It was really a very nice individual experience.
- McDermott Scholars
- The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.