Posted by: kellylyneddy | July 7, 2013

High Six!!!!!!

There are places in Patagonia that are difficult to get to. Cueva de las Manos is one of those place, especially in winter.  After a beautiful stay at a small sheep farm, we were too close to resist, and hit the road towards this unique UNESCO world heritage site.  Our camp was Perito Moreno, town sign seen below.  I am positive the “O” was blown away by the wind.  If Sarmiento is the “birthplace of wind”, the Perito Moreno is where wind hits it’s adolescence.  It was relentless.  ALL trees in this town grew at a 45 degree angle and only had branches on one side. Viento, Mucho Viento!

Notice the missing "O"!

Notice the missing “O”!

After our worst sleep in Argentina we set out with our guide Harry on the 1.5 hour road trip to the caves. The drive was scenic, and windy, but we were protected by the shell of Harry’s truck. Along the way we spotted many Guanacos, a wild llama that grazes in the Argentinean Stepps.  Soon out of the pampas small hills began to emerge, vividly red, brown, and black rich with pigments.

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Pretty pigments

During the summer months Cueva de las Manos receives about 500 visitors per day. On June 29th, 2013 there were only 5 visitors, us. A small unimposing visitor’s centre greeted us and we began to walk along the edge of tall cliffs making our way to the legendary caves.  Argentines have a lot of pride about the unique and special places within their own country.  During one homestay we asked about the” cave of hands” and our host, could not express how enchanted she was by them.

The paintings themselves were stunning.  The paintings are 9300 years old with some as recent as 1300 years old. Typically when looking at something of this age, one has to strain their imagination to envision what people say is there. This is not true at Cueva de las Manos, the colours are very vivid.  Red, black, white, purple, yellow and even green decorate the cave walls. The nomadic people which made these paintings followed their food source, and made camp at the bottom of the huge river valley that the caves overlook.  Some people say that when the weather was cold, or more likely the wind intolerable, they sought sanctuary within the caves.  There is one spot where the roof is very high and there are a few red dots on the roof. Some people like to think that is it s map or a constellation, but if I was stuck in a small cave for a few days I think it would be out of boredom that I would throw a rock wrapped in hide dripping with paint at the roof. But who knows, there is no one left to tell us why the paintings are there or what they really mean, we can only guess.

Rio PInturas

Rio Pinturas

There were a few scenes of typical “cave art” one might see at many archeology sites, guanacos, lizards, pumas, maps, mountains…but the hands were different.  So many hands, each belonging to someone, someone like me.  A kind of signature or self portrait left behind of the people who came before. There are over 800 individual hands at this particular site painted in a striking way. Most are negatives or silhouettes. To leave their hand, a person would gather a special pigment which could be found on many of the surrounding hills. Once back at the caves they would place this pigment into their mouth making it into a paint (no one is sure what binding agent was used). In a carefully chosen spot, usually with some cover, they would place their hand and blow the pigment through the hollow bone of a Nandu (a giant ostrich-like bird E2 likes to refer to as a running bush) leaving the outline of their hand. Most hands are left hands, only a small number are right, some are in pairs and believed to be the right and left hands of the same person, there is one of a foot too!

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Some hand paintings believed to be pairs

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The camera does not do the colours justice

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Tyler’s favourite

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Humans hunting guanacos

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The route

I will be the first to admit that I am a huge fan of the high five.  It is a small gesture that brings so much joy. So naturally this attraction spoke to me. There was even a silhouette with six fingers. It was a little tough to see, but I imagine back then if you had six fingers you had a few other things hampering your creative abilities.  This is a beautiful site, if you ever get the chance to see it first hand, take it! HIGH SIX!!!!!!

A wonderful day trip!

A wonderful day trip!

 
 
 
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Responses

  1. High six,or seven,or TEN…….to you guys!!!!!! Spectacular pictures and we loved your depiction of your day trip……it sounds like the most fabulous adventure…good on you!!!!

  2. Thanks! very enjoyable reading as usual! I I’ve seen my brother’s videos and pictures of his trip to the cueva de las manos, but your narration is much better and made me want to visit it myself!

  3. High Five Kelly! 🙂

  4. Great job! Look forward to reading your blog every time !!

  5. Hi Tyler: I was totally impressed with your article and photos of your trip in Argentina, must be challenging to say the least. I will look forward to seeing what that country has to show you next..so you guys have a safe one and so long for now.
    Craig Beattie.


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