Weeeell...slight change of plan. We travelled to San Juan specifically to see the amazing rock formations from the Triassic Period, but when we arrived in San Juan after yet another epic bus ride it emerged that the Valle De La Luna is actually a 5-hr bus ride away..although it is in the San Juan region it is actually closer to San Augustin, but that is a tiny village so people generally stay in San Juan. We stumbled, tired and crumpled from the 18hr bus journey, around the town attempting to find a travel agency which was a) .open and b) .able to speak enough English to explain the tour to us.
A) was proving to be the biggest hurdle, as San Juan has a ridiculously long 5hr siesta every day. 5 hrs! The lazy buggers. The shops only open for 3 hours, then the whole town closes down from 12.30 until 5.30pm.
We eventually booked our tour of the Valley de La Luna, but somehow the communication gap (or should that be canyon) meant that despite us getting up whilst it was still pitch black outside for our tour and waiting patiently for our guide...he never showed up!
And angry conversation in Spanglish (my version of Spanish) revealed that the tour operator had sent our guide to the wrong hostel to pick us up. We had to then rebook for the following day, thus losing a whole day as there wasn´t much else to do in San Juan. This was pretty frustrating, but when we finally managed to see the ancient rock formations we both agreed it ws worth the effort and the wait:
The day of the tour started off well - the guide actually turned up, so that was a bonus. Unfortunately his car came complete with two old french birds, who proceeded to twitter on in French for the entire 5hr journey.
Then, something miraculous happened....I rememebered every word of the French language that I had ever been taught. It seems my French A-level A grade was not in vain after all, and before long I was babbling away to the Frenchies like a native. Liam was well impressed, and I spent the day translating everything into English for him. We had a little system going - the French women spoke Spanish, so the guide told them some history, trivia etc, then they translated it into French, then I translated it into English for Liam. OK, so a few things may have got lost in translation, but I reckon my French teacher, Madame Perryhomme, would have been proud.
The Valle de la Luna was incredible - we saw amazing rock formations in gravity-defying shapes, eerie moon-like terrains and fossilized fish and dinosaurs.
We had lunch of empanadas (or ipanemas as we called them - duh!) and then set off for the 5hr ride home with our new french mates.
On the way home we visited a shrine, which thousands of Argentinians make a pilgrimage to every Sunday. It was a shrine to a woman who had died in the desert trying to find her military husband. Her body was found with her tiny son clinging to her breast. Miraculously he survived, and her tomb has become a shrine, with people bringing gifts to her from miles around. These ¨gifts¨included their stuffed pets, wedding dresses, football shirts, papier-mache replicas of their houses, photos, all sorts. It was a very weird sight to see all these people bringing random objects to the grave. There were also thousands of bottles of water, meant to stop her from getting thirsty ever again (she died of thirst in the desert).
An interesting end to a memorable day...