It took us 3 hours to get there by bus through mountain roads, which were sometimes unpaved and always near a edge - it was a fun and bumpy ride!
We felt like going back in time in Iruya: it is such an isolated village, away from any modern activity (no network sign and rarely internet available), animals roaming around, everyone knew each other and there wasn't much to do except to be on the street chatting, playing football or combing each others hair. Some kids went around us yelling "los turistas, los turistas!" (the tourists).
While walking around appreciating the isolation, we found out there would be a contest for the longest hair later in the afternoon ! (El pelo mais largo) Moved by curiosity, we went there - only to find that this had been organized by a couple from Buenos Aires, she was a photographer and wanted to capture life in this isolated village!
To me it seemed like manipulation, as I am not sure if such a contest would happen spontaneously, considering the giggling of the girls participating in the contest...
The first prize was around 50 € and it was very strange to see the girls all lined up showing their hair, standing still for 15 minutes while the photographer was taking 10000 pictures and the rest of the people circled around them waiting for the winner announcement.
Weird things happen when you are isolated!
While in Iruya, we learned that there is a tradition in the north of Argentina for Dia de los Muertos where each family cooks bread in different shapes and prepares a very full table with the specially shaped bread, sweets, flowers and candles (Mesa de oferendas/Offerings table). The table is set for the deceased ones, which are said to visit the living world on this day. On the next day - 2nd November-, after visiting the cemetery and leaving very colourful flowers there, the entire community goes from one house to the other to taste their offerings and on each visit the deceased one is remembered. We found this tradition very endearing.
We left Argentina with sadness in our hearts but happy to have met new friends, meet the old ones and let ourselves be awed by this amazing country. There is much more to be seen, so a next visit to Argentina is in plan!!
Next stop - BOLIVIA!