TOWARDS THE NORTHWEST: THE FOOTHILLS OF THE
Each and every country has its capital. Each capital its center; its center
has its "city" and this one, its skyscrapers from which one can watch the world
in a quite different way... Buenos Aires. From there, where the avenues: Avenida Córdoba
and Avenida Eduardo Madero are; where the American multinational companies have placed
their towers in cheerful competition with the Spanish ones on the Mar del Plata, The Casa
Rosada looks tiny down there.
Mendoza, founder of the city of Buenos Aires in 1536, knew the silver objects used
by the native indians without giving them special value. He surely took part in the Great
Expectation of watching one day how the earth`s riches ( that is: silver) that there must
have been up the river, would come down to the new city. The former river Solís, named
after Juan Día de Solís and the discoverers and shipwrecked people of his expedition,
changed to be called: Rio la Plata. This region was called Argentina from 1602, name that
was officially adopted by the president Santiago Dergui in 1860 to designate the new
independent country. And, all this, due to a mineral: silver or "argentium" of
which there has never been a sign in Argentina.
from anecdotes here we are, reviewing next to the calm waters of the renewed Port Madero
if this country with its mysteries, the permanent search of a destination and their
characteristics continues living in the illusion of the people from Buenos Aires, while on
the other side, away from the great city, Argentina lives a normal daily life, calm in the
immensity of its lands and landscapes.
Beyond the capital, the county, 600 km of diameter sprinkled with cities
and towns. La Plata, Lujuán, Dolores... 11 million inhabitants. We leave Buenos Aires and
its suburbs leading up the Rio de la Plata, north direction, an horizon without end
sprinkled with consecutive lakes next to the green fields, with meanders and turns in
brown. Now called: river Parana, it is navigable all along its course and connects Buenos
Aires with some of the main Argentinean cities: Rosario and Santa Fe, geografical, fluvial
and economic key places in the north half of Argentina. We are in the Pampa, a plain without end that Argentian
people has transformed and adapted especially
to the cattle use, with appropiate pasture
and forests. Some of intensive use: pine and eucalyptus; others more adapted to the place
with trees such as low ombu. Thanks to its huge crown of more than 30 m a large number of
animals can be placed in the shade.of the ombu. Territory also of deer and foxes,
capybaras and skunks and a rich fauna linked to the water: herons and flamingos; enormous
fishes such as pejerrey. To sum up, a landscape that we can travel around from the air
enjoying a magnificient view, thanks to our pilots: Nahuel and Alex, at the control of the
Cessna that gently flies along the course of the river.
And sprinkling the endless plain, left
caressed by the water of the river, the witnessing of hints of an American- like city, the
perfectly orthogonal drawing of San Pedro, Ramallo, like so many Amercan
cities as examples of an ordenation of royal jurisdiction, given soon by Carlos I in the
Laws of Indias. He wanted to regulate the perfection for the new world, without big names
behind the urbanistic planning, just orthogonal, but somehow adapted today in a natural
way to the endless plain and its long straight routes.
We come down back to Earth, to the road
that will lead us from Santa Fe to Santiago del Estero, across the most
western part of the old region of "chacu" ( = hunting land in Quechua language),
a neverending plain, where the indians used to make their living from hunting and fishing.
Nowadays it is the boring Route 34, a straight line without end, decorated with marshy
areas in the rainy seasons; dry and hard in summer. Cereals, cows and an horizon, that
seems to escape from our wish to reach it. And down there, on the other side of S.
Miguel de Tucumán, at last the beginning of the foothills of the Andes.
repeats in its sorrounding area a too widespread landscape of shanties and poverty, that
proclaims the reality of the current Argentina, an urban belt common to the main cities.
It may be even more attractive here, as Tucuman is an economic and cultural reference
place in the northwest: active, densely populated and increasing...Traditionally dedicated
to the cane of sugar, introduced by the jesuits, recently diversfied into tabacco and
other products. It does not avoid people living in the countryside from running away from
time to time and arriving in here, joining in the shanty towns. There are also flourishing
periods, in which the town comes alive again with cheerful life at night, famous in the
song book, mainly around the Urquiza Square.
The city has some of the
symbolic elements of the Argentinian history as it was the birthplace of the Independence,
declared on July 9th 1816 among the walls of the "Casa Histórica de la
Independencia" (Historical Houses of the Independence), 151 Congreso Street. It was
built in 1943 on the basis of the documentation of the original one with original
furniture, weapons, ethnography and documentation. All together with the myth of those men
who took part in that historic decision along with General S. Martin.This group is
completed with a succesive good cared patios with the typic characteristics of an
"hacienda" (country property). In the last one there is an immense collection of
conmemorative bas-relieves (some of them by Lola Mora, Argentinean sculptress, a refecence
artist that one must take into account). It all forms a curious backdrop to the light and
sound shows at night.
Next to it, at 56 Congreso Street, is the "Museo
Histórico Provincial Presidente Nicolás Avellaneda" after the name of the President
who lived there in his childhood and led the country from 1874 to 1880. During this period
of time Buenos Aires joined the Federation and became Federal Capital. It is not a proper
palace. but a urban house with patio of the biginning of the 19th century (1835), in the
late Spanish baroque image. It has a collection of documents, ceramic and furnitures of
the time. In the room upstairs there is a short biography of the national myth: Lola Mora,
with some personal objects and a curious collection of portraits she made to Presidents of
Other interesting places to visit are the
park: "9 de Julio", an inmense commemorative recess area of 100 hectares, nice
example of arquitecture in its landscape, with the house of bishop Colombres, a colonial
construction of the 18th century, nowadays a sugar museum; the Cathedral and the S.
Francisco and La Merced Churches; as well as many references to another hero of the
Independence: Belgrano General and the famous battle of Tucumán, history that one can
hear once and again.
Salta, capital of the province with the same name,
welcomes us with the sight of the mountains at its back. A beautiful rich and middle class
city, whose streets and buildings show a good cared inheritance of the splendor of the
18th century. The mixing of race groups has brought out among its people the best of two
valleys and gullies form a splendorous and exuberant hall before the still of the
Altiplano. Place with a rich variety of landscapes: amazing subtropical forest areas, in
the so called: "Camino de Cornisa" (on the way to Cornisa) that leads to Jujuy;
the mountain landscape on the way to S. Antonio de Cobres, with the well-known "tren
de las nubes" (train of the clouds); the province of Salta, specially Cafayate and
its sorroundings, that has the best vineyards of the country. It is serving such a
prestigious wine in the international market, that there are already some spanish,
french... wineries, that begin to produce in here.
Salta is an ideal place for adventure
tourism: by train (ask for information about closed streches or under construction); in
the so called: "Movie Track", a convertible lorry that has caused an enormous
enthusiasm among people; or in a 4x4 with one of the many agencies one can find in the
city. Destinations: towards the calchaquies valleys, the Puna or S. Antonio de los
We come back to Salta-city: it was founded by Hernando de
Lerma in 1582. The rich valley, where the city lies, is called after him.The colonial
architecture is present all over the place both in the valley and in the city. The arcades
in rural areas gives us a hint of the local richness and the vitality of the trade as well
as the town hall in Salta of the 17th century; the rich burgeois buildings such as the
"Centro Cultural América" (America Culture Center) a proyect by Arturo Prims
and built by engineers Correa and Cornejo; the religious arquitecture with some
pretentious examples with the clergy and the local fervor as the cathedral of the 19th
century, a design that is not quite atractive by Riguetti and Soldati (Italians). It was
finished in 1882 placing in the high altar an enormous monstrance that has become in the
representative image of the temple; and finally, the religious architecture that reflects
the power of the religious orders in the process of evangelization: the church and Convent
of S. Francisco with its curious Neorenaissance exent tower of the 19th century and the
temple by the Franciscan Luis Giorgi who also worked in the cathedral.