Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tilcara, Argentina & Pucará Ruins

Tilcara, Argentina - People overflowed the yard in front of the Catholic Church in Tilcara, Argentina, taking seats atop the walls and peeking in from the doors, or, like us from a vantage point across the street. It was a Friday night, after dark, in the weeks before Easter, and the air at 8,000 feet above sea level got cooler by the minute.

We’d heard some drums and Andean flutes on the way to the church. Multiple groups of 3 to 6 men with drums and flutes stood quietly to hear the Priest. Later, there would be a procession. Still later, at 5:00 a.m., even through the thick stone walls of our B & B, we heard another morning procession.

The ethnography fit the flutes. The faces of Tilcara do not match the faces of Buenos Aires. Ink-black hair that is thick and without wave or curl surround dark, angular faces that go back to pre-Columbian days of the Inca.

We were hungry and tired, so we did not stick around too long. We went off to eat (llama in mushroom sauce for me) and then to bed. Yes, llama. Inca have been eating llama for hundreds of years. When in Rome. . .

Next morning, we took our time at Quinta la Pacena, a lovely bed and breakfast. We lingered over coffee and tea and enjoyed the garden before heading out to the ruins of Pucará. I posted pictures of both.

Pucará was an outpost of the Incan Empire from about 500 years ago. The area now includes some rebuilt homes and walls. Other stones still sit as they fell. Befitting a stronghold, Pucará commands the high ground over the Rio Grande Valley, providing great vistas. Our guide, David Martinez ( served as an excellent docent. Without him, the visit would have been much less interesting. Adjacent to the site is a botanical garden. Again, David pointed out things that we would not otherwise have appreciated. Piedra campana, the rock that sounds like a bell, is in the garden.

We finished off our visit to Tilcara, Argentina with a great lunch at El Patio, where the backyard and walls burst with colorful flowers. Having just seen quinoa growing at the botanical garden, Allyson ordered some that came in a paddy form. It was delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing. A "must do" in Tilcara. I highly recommend it if you are in Tilcara and are interested in history and culture.
    Although there are many sign with explanations in english and spanish you can hire a guide at the entrace so as to explain you what you are seeing and the meaning of everything. There is no pre-defined payment, usually voluntary. If you do it on you own you can do it.

    Josefina - Hotel en Tilcara