I didn’t really start hitchhiking at Salta, I tried to take a bus till the point I could and then started hitchhiking which was at Purmamarca. To reach Purmamarca I took a night bus to Jujuy, Slept at the bus station, then took an early morning bus to Purmamarca.
I started hitchhiking from Purmamarca at around midday as I wanted to use this halt to explore the place a little bit.
I had no idea it was going to be this difficult. I walked on the highway for some time only to realize later it was not the right path, my maps then took me to trespass some private property after which I reached the narrow road that led to my destination. I stopped at the first place with enough shade to stand under. Faced with a bathroom emergency soon enough, I had to request someone to let me use their private toilet and they did (We’re still in Argentina here, you take the generosity for granted). Walked much under the sun again before I got my first ride.
The ride that I got was by girls who stayed in the same hostel as I did in Salta. had they not showed up maybe I wouldn’t have reached anywhere that day.
They had hired a car for this trip around Salta which I think is a very good way to explore this area and a lot of people do choose this option. They were going to the salt flats. I decided to skip it as I had plans for Salar tour in Bolivia anyway and also I wanted to continue hitchhiking. I knew I was getting late. I kept walking as I usually do but most of the cars were coming only till this point for the tour.
I saw a dead dog on the road while walking and wondered if that’s how I’ll end up if I don’t get a ride. The memory of reading about a similar experience started coming to me. A hitchhiker had almost died while walking around the salt flats for three days without seeing any cars. He had no water and food left. I did see cars here which was a good sign as in the worst case scenario, I could just go back. I continued walking and after about a km or two, I saw two more hitchhikers, a couple from Argentina. I was elated to see them. I asked them how long they’ve been waiting and the answer didn’t make me very happy – ‘Four hours’. I dropped all plans of reaching anywhere that day. I checked the possibility of buying water as my diminishing water concerned me. There were two tiny stores to buy (expensive) water from. The sun was too strong but I was worried about sleeping there in the evening, It would have been freezing cold.
I sat down to take a nap as I didn’t want to be stuck in this place alone. Within 20 minutes, this guy woke me up and I see this goliath of a truck had stopped for us. I told you – truck drivers are the best.
I jumped in and couldn’t stop appreciating the beauty of the place we were crossing. We had the perfect vehicle to enjoy nature around us.
The truck stopped at the last town in Argentina – Susques. We three bought some food (that’s allowed in Chile) and continued hitchhiking. It started raining soon though. We took turns to walk onto the road every time a vehicle passed. But with no success. We made ourselves some sandwiches. put on everything to keep ourselves warm. Once the rain stopped, this magnificent rainbow showed up and cheered us up. I had never seen such a massive rainbow before in my life. I took it as a special farewell gift from Argentina on my last evening here.
At around 9 p.m., we decided to stop for the day, sleep, and start really early next day. They had a tent and very kindly they let me share it. It was too small for me to even shift sides but it was warm inside, sleeping outside could have killed me. As decided, we woke up around 5:30 a.m. and got on the road within 30 minutes. We decided to split as it’s nearly impossible to hitchhike with 3 people. I went ahead assuming the vehicle would stop for them first. They started before me so they deserved to reach before me (hitchhiking etiquette). Within 10 minutes of parting, a truck stopped for me and I was on my way to San Pedro de Atacama – My last stop in Argentina to my last stop in Chile.