The Fighting Spirit of Quilmes -- The Indian community of Quilmes has fought off usurpers since colonial times and is still fighting today. Famous for keeping the Spanish at bay for over 150 years, they have now successfully beat back mining companies and hoteliers through road blockades and pickets. The focal point of such resistance is the fascinating ruins of Quilmes, located on Route 40, approximately halfway between Tafi del Valle and Cafayate. A field of giant cacti leads to an impressive hillside town with stone foundations -- the remains of a thriving settlement built in A.D. 800 that once held 5,000 people. Rock walls make tidy terraces halfway up a hill toward the chief's house. You can climb the southern side to one of two pre-Columbian lookout posts. Below, you'll see the layout of a neatly divided town with the remains of square-shaped houses and circular storage rooms. At the front is a modern stone hotel built in the style of the ruins. Technically, the hotel is open, but the police tape and picketing Indians mean it has very few guests. The ruins are open for visits, however, from 8am to 7pm daily. Admission is $1.60 (£1.10), with an obligatory Spanish-speaking guide of dubious quality (tel. 381/1562-72329 [cell]; www.comunidadindiaquilmes.org).
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