Travels

White Walls Say Nothing

I got that title from a travel I did in 2015 to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I joined a graffiti walk arranged by Graffiti Mundo. I highly recommend for you to join if you plan to visit the city and interested to know a bit about the story behind those graffitis that liven up the city. 

In Buenos Aires, where you will meet the most genuine and friendly people (my experience!), one foreign artist admitted that to do a mural or other work on a wall will normally take longer time than in any other place, but he always loves doing it, every time. The reason is that the people in the neighbourhood will stop by, asking questions, offering some food, a mate tea (a traditional tea in Argentina), discuss or argue about the painting he is about to make.

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Some street art is political in nature and tells you stories of what the country faces/ faced during particular periods of time. Others may focus on showing the love of a certain football club, be dedicated to a musician, or something like that. And some are filled with secret messages that are only understood by the artists or certain groups.

I liked most of the murals/graffiti pieces I saw, but some I didn’t understand. But the idea to paint boring empty walls with meaningful and beautiful art that makes you stop, look and think is a great way to liven up a city. :)

Here are some samples of the street wall art I saw during my stay in Buenos Aires, Salta and Mendoza, Argentina.

 The artist, Pablo Harymbat, was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and began painting graffiti in the 1990’s. - graffitimundo.

The artist, Pablo Harymbat, was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and began painting graffiti in the 1990’s. - graffitimundo.

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 Haydée Mercedes Sosa (9 July 1935 – 4 October 2009), known as La Negra (literally: The Black Woman), was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the continent.

Haydée Mercedes Sosa (9 July 1935 – 4 October 2009), known as La Negra (literally: The Black Woman), was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the continent.

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The artist, Franco Fasoli aka “Jaz” studied and worked in scenography at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and studied painting with Jose Marchi, Nahuel Vecino and Diana Aisemberg. He is recognized as one of the first major graffiti writers to begin painting in the streets of Buenos Aires in the mid 1990’s. He explores identity, on both a personal and cultural level, in pieces that feature hybrid creatures, which are part man, part beast. - from the blog of graffitimundo.

The white head scarves worn by Argentine mothers (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) whose children were "disappeared" during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983.

 These are the Argentine mothers, some already passed away, who were at the Plaza de Mayo still protesting. I took this picture in 2015.

These are the Argentine mothers, some already passed away, who were at the Plaza de Mayo still protesting. I took this picture in 2015.

The pub/ restaurant where the owner once asked some of the artists to paint his restaurant with their arts and the owner gives some space on the backside of this place as a gallery where they can showcase their arts.

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Isn't it interesting to know some stories behind those graffitis? I learned a little bit history of Argentina in a different way just from the walk.

 

Travel Diary - Argentina part 2

 

It took roughly 18 hours from Buenos Aires to Salta – the distance is around 1,500 km. We took an overnight bus and both of us managed to sleep quite comfortably. There was plenty of leg space and the seats could be reclined almost 180 degrees.

Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world, almost 3,000,000 square kilometres, and we had limited weeks of vacation. This meant we had to decide on a couple of places to visit; it would be impossible to ‘do everything’. We decided to start off with Salta and the northwest because my husband had been there before and he had only fond memories.

Argentina’s northwest is lofty and dry, and sits against the beautiful backdrop of the mighty Andes. Nature works magic here with stone; strange, wonderful, tortured rock shapes are visible everywhere. And the puna (altiplano or Andean highlands) and its fauna need to be experienced in person.

Quebrada de Humahuaca. The photo above is available as photographic print in my print shop.

Colorful traditional handicrafts, indigenous communities and Inca ruins give the area a definite Andean feel, so does the animal, llama, that I saw (and tasted for the first time!). Coca leaves are sold openly and legally. It is part of the culture to chew coca leaves mixed with bicarbonate of soda to assist breathing at higher altitudes. The mixture is also said to combat fatigue and hunger.

During our stay in Salta, we went to a museum named: Museo de Arquelogía de Alta Montaña. Honestly, this was the first time I read and saw some videos about the Inca culture. When we visited the museum, the well preserved, mummified body of one three children discovered at the peak of a volcano, Llullaillaco, in 1999 was on display.

The Incas practiced what some may consider bizarre custom of sacrificing children of royal lineage or higher status to appease the Gods and ensure safety and fertility. Sacrificed children were buried on some of the Andes’ highest peaks. Llullaillaco is 6,739 meters high. It is not clear whether some of the children were actually buried alive!

It was a bit eerie to see the mummy, but I didn’t have any nightmares afterwards. ☺ It was not allowed to take pictures in the museum so I’m not able to show you what it looked like. If you want to know more, visit the website.

After exploring the city of Salta for a couple of days, we rented a car and headed north up to the Quebrada de Humahuaca for a number of days. We made the small town of Tilcara our base for daily excursions.

Now let me share with you some pictures of the magical, awe-inspiring nature in the northwest.

 
 

El Hornocal

Roughly 25 km up a winding gravel road from the town of Humahuaca at an altitude of around 4,200 m is the Mirador del Hornocal, a viewpoint from which the splendor of the Serranía Hornocal can be seen.

The colored limestone formations are simply amazing. It is best to visit in the afternoon when the sunlight intensifies the colorations. It was a bit cloudy when we went there, but nonetheless indescribably beautiful. And it was quite chilly, only around 8-9 degrees Celsius.

The Mirador del Hornocal is much less visited than the well-known, easily accessible Hill of Seven Colors (Cerro de los Siete Colores) in Purmamarca. The Hill of Seven Colors is fantastic, but bleaks in comparison to the Hornocal, at least according to me.

 

The photos of the mountain and the cactus on the right are available as photographic print in my print shop.

 

Salinas Grandes

The salt flats of Salina Grandes are located on the puna at around 3,500 meters above sea level. Salt is mined here for human, industrial and animal consumption. I cannot describe the salt flats and the surrounding landscape in words, but let me give it a shot: amazing, incredible, dramatic, endless, powerful, extreme, awesome, mind-blowing… And I’ll never forget walking around on the salt flats.