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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

The Legend of the Hill of Seven Colours - Days 471-472

We love looking at rock formations and when they have a rainbow of colours, wow – we were in awe. I just wish I understood how they were created rather than just the legend of the Hill of Seven Colours

Legend has it that in the small town of Purmamarca based in the Andes, the children got bored of just seeing dull brown rock everywhere. They wanted something colourful. They made a plan. At the middle of the night, they creeped out of bed, climbed to the mountains and painted the rocks a different colour each night. (Perhaps they used permanent marker pens – got it!). One night they painted some rocks green, another night white, then purple, yellow, pink, red and a rich brown. Each morning, the adults would wake up to discover another colour had appeared on the rocks.

On the morning after the 7th night, the grown-ups woke early to find out what was going on. They discovered that all the children had disappeared from town. They were distraught. Suddenly, just as the sun rose, laughter and singing were heard. The children were climbing down from the mountains after their fun night of painting. Now, the town has an annual celebration for their beautiful Cerro de los Siete Colores (The Hill of Seven Colours). This is where we visited today.

We flew into Salta yesterday and have hired a car for two days. Yes, far too short, I know, but we need to get to Cusco by 10th March, so we’re on an imposed tight schedule. Anyhow, we arrived at our Airbnb and was greeted by two brothers, Sebastian and Matias. We had such a lovely chat with them. Sebastian is in his final year studying Architecture and Matias is a musician. He raved about London, loved all the bars and the music and even played in a couple when he visited a few years back. After settling in, we found a fabulous Peruvian restaurant and had massive bowls of fish and seafood stews. Worth a photo.

This morning, we left at a reasonable time for our long drive to Purmamarca. Just as we were leaving Salta, we picked up a couple of hitchhikers, Catarina and Nino. It turned out that they too wanted to see the colourful Mountains.

Despite our Spanish lessons, our Spanish wasn't up to scratch, and I resorted to Google Translate. Either it wasn’t working very well today, or perhaps some spell also wasn't up to scratch as I was getting some bizarre responses to my questions! I did find out that this lovely couple from Argentina are travelling around South America and have either travelled for two years or will be. They are obviously going at a much slower (and cheaper) pace to us.

Photos were taken, we said our fond farewells and wandered around the small busy town with quaint adobe houses made from mud and straw with shops and stalls selling brightly coloured hats, bags, scarves and clothes, all woven in the typical Andean style. It didn’t take us long to venture off the tourist route, to get to see these incredible rocks up close. Wow!

We both love looking at rock formations. If you have been reading our blogs for some time, you might have gathered that already. And so, of course, I have had to do some research to discover why this place really has so many amazing colours in the rocks (I did say that the story at the start was a legend). The different rocks are based on the movement of the tectonic plates as well as marine, water and mineral effects, erosion and some complex geological happenings which I can’t find any details online.

The oldest is about 600 million years old metamorphic rock with copper oxide giving it various shades of green. Next at 400 million years is white limestone. The purple stone, rich in calcium carbonate and the yellow sandstone with sulphur are estimated to be about 80 million years old. The Pinks and Reds are clay, mud and sand with iron giving it the intensity of colour and aged approximately 3 to 4 million years old and the youngest of the lot is the earthy brown conglomerate rock with manganese in it; a mere 1 to 2 million years old. I’d love to understand more. Any geologists out there?

As we were admiring the colours, who should we bump into but our hitchhiker friends. Catarina was asking for my mobile, and I thought she wanted to give me her details. I realised afterwards that she wanted to use Google translate to let us know that 3km away was a dance rave! Not our scene though, old rocks are more our thing!

#Purmamarca #Salta #AndeanCloth #CerrodelosSieteColores #TheHillofSevenColours #ColourfulMountains #LegendofColouredMountains #ColoredRockFormations

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