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Argentina - Salta (swine flu)

Written on: Sunday September 13th, 2009

The journey to Salta took us through many different residential areas, some affluent with swimming pools, others, rows of "houses" along the road made up from wood, plastic sheeting, corrugated iron sheeting, and obviously just about anything they could find.

Around 15 or so miles before we approached Salta city we started to see large groups of indigenous looking people, old and young, some carrying small images of Christ or the Virgin Mary, and some flags. People from many of the surrounding villages were walking to Salta city to celebrate the Fiesta del Milagro. They walked for days, and slept in the Plaza 9 de Julio (city square) all for a glimpse of a large image of Christ and the Virgin Mary which survived an earthquake in 1692, and were paraded round the streets in the following days, and "miraculously" the earthquake tremors and aftershocks stopped. So they've paraded them every year on the anniversary since, in order to hold off further earthquakes. Nothing else happens, they just go crazy over the images. The centre was absolutely packed solid with the pilgrims (apparently around 600,000) where they live and sleep for about two days.

We arrived in Salta exhausted and achy after an extremely busy bus journey, some of the double seats being taken up by two adults and a child, including the pair directly behind us. We assumed we were just tired and ventured into town and up the cable car, and walked back down the mountain. That night we were shattered, and couldn't understand why we were finding the walk so hard. The following day we went to the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology of Salta, where exhibited are the remains of The Llullaillaco Children, three sacrificed Inca children (sacrificed to avert earthquakes and volcanic eruptions) who were found in 1999 on the peak of Mount Llullaillaco in Salta province. After five centuries they have been remarkably preserved by the temperature and altitude and are still in their seated position, facial features and braided hair clearly visible. A girl of six and a boy of seven with intentionally deformed conical skulls, and a girl/young woman of 15.

After that, we were aching badly, and thought we might be coming down with something. We Googled our symptoms, and lo and behold, an exact match with swine flu! So we put off our journey north day after day and slept. We suffered from chest pains, and severe abdominal cramps (so much so that we were both bizarrely unable to lie on our right sides and unable to eat), but eventually it began to subside!

(Backpackers Soul)

 

From arthur on Sep 20th, 2009

is Salta at a high altitude? - sounds more like altitude sickness to me, especially if it went away quickly. Although those symptoms are an exact match for any number of things (such as, for example, being a bit tired, or a bit soft...)

From NORAHandJON on Sep 27th, 2009

Salta is not at high altitude and it's been two weeks now and we're still not better. So it's deffo flu of some sort.

From NORAHandJON on Sep 27th, 2009

Salta is only at 1,150m. We're now at 2,500m in Tilcara so although we have the same symptoms, we don't know where flu stopped and altitude sickness started! Norah.