A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Around the Bend


Hasan, our guide for the day, picked us up at our hostel at 7 am.

We planned to drive three hours north of Salta to see the Quebrada de Humahuaca, an often-photographed, stunningly beautiful gorge surrounded by multicolored mountains.

Crossing into Jujuy Province, we entered the gorge at the valley bottom, and began the 90 mile drive to the town of Humahuaca.


As we approached the small village of Purmamarca, Hasan pulled the van over to show us the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors, see below), a unique geological formation. We fired off dozens of photographs, both cameras going full speed.


Once we were satisfied we had a decent shot, we headed into the Purmamarca “market,” a tourist trap we hadn’t seen the likes of since Cusco.

Hasan suggested that we meet him back at the van in forty minutes.  We wandered around the village square, looking at the same hats, blankets, sweaters and trinkets we’d seen in a dozen different South American markets.

Call me gullible, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next.

We entered a small courtyard and began browsing through the merchandise.  I stopped short when I saw the Incan wall hanging that I had bought for Dani on the Uros Islands in Peru.  The woman I bought it from assured me that she had made the print herself.


All I could do was shake my head.  As I turned around to leave, there hanging from the wall, was the Ecuadorian wool poncho Conor had bought in Otavalo.  Made locally, we were assured, when we’d paid twelve dollars for it.

Now I was running for the exit, but not before I saw same exact alpaca chullo hats Caroline and Conor had bought from the Quechua children at the entrance to Cotopaxi National Park.

I had to confront my secret fear: That all South American collectibles are made in a factory in China.

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October 27, 2008   9 Comments

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