Salta (25 April 2012)

We arrived in Salta around 3pm (a 4 hour bus journey from Cafayate), passing through the Quebrada de las Conchas again on the way. We were greeted by some eager hostel promoters, trying to convince us that their hostel was THE ONE. Since we didn’t get the chance to book a hostel in advance, we were rather thankful for their initiative. We chose to stay at the Hostelling International Backpacker Suites, which turned out to be a rather good choice. Salta is a popular destination in high season, but during the late autumn and winter months, the hostels in Salta compete for the fewer travellers passing through threre. Hence we managed to book an ensuite double room, including dinner and breakfast, for half the usual price (and even cheaper than some of the dorm rooms in high season) – the price even included a free taxi ride to the hostel.

After seeing our nice room (in comparison with the cheap price we were paying), we decided to postpone our bus tickets to Humahuaca to the next day. Luckily we found an office of the bus company in the main square and didn’t have to go all the way back to the bus station again. We had lunch at a local restaurant near the main square, and ordered humitas together with the menu del dia (a 3 course meal at a very reasonable price of 20 pesos). Unfortunately the humitas was not as tasty as those in Cafayate, but it was still good. We had flan with dulce de leche for dessert – yummee. On our way back we were introduced to the Bolivian folklore dance called the Cueca, which is being described by some as a seduction game between a man and a woman who dance while agitating a white handkerchief in their right hand, hehe. Some variations exist, according to region: Cueca chapaca (Tarija), Cueca paceña (La Paz), Cueca chuquisaqueña (Sucre), Cueca cochabambina (Cochabamba). Obviously the dance has also become popular in the northwest regions of Argentina that borders Bolivia.

The Cueca

We returned to the hostel to relax a bit before heading off to the place where we got our free dinner (it was about 14 blocks away from where we stayed). The free dinner was onion cake – not my idea of a nice meal, and my stomach is not very fond of onions as well. At least Cobus enjoyed the free meal, with the added bonus of the virtue “gasvryheid”.

The onion cake

The next day we reserved for searching for the Cafayate Alfajores brand, and just spending some time walking through the city near the main square. Most tourists use Salta as a base to explore the surrounding areas (for example Cafayate, Cachi, and the Jujuy region), and the city is perfect for daytrips to these areas.

Some of the buildings around the main square. Obviously the Coca Cola company is also present. Further away from the main square the buildings is not as nice.

Unfortunately we couln’t find any good quality Alfajores 😦  We had lunch at the Guemes house – tallarines and ravioles with very chewy meat for 27 pesos pp. Our dessert was ensalada de frutas, which turned out to be a slice of weird tasting cheese with (also a  weird tasting) fruit jam and nuts on top – not necessarily the fruit salad we had in mind…

The “Ensalada de frutas” at Guemes house

The Guemes house is a museum in tribute to Martín Miguel de Güemes (8 February 1785 – 17 June 1821). Güemes was a military leader who defended northwestern Argentina from the Spanish during the Argentine War of Independence. The museum is situated in the house where he used to live in Salta. After lunch we did some shopping and were able to buy ourselves a nice Tango cd. In the supermarket we were surprised to find almost anything for sale, even car tyres ??

Tyres for sale in a supermarket…hmm…not a common sight in South Africa

We also visited the local market. We decided not to try the complementary dinner again, instead making ourselves some nice fresh fruit salad (the kind of fruit salad we are accustomed to) and yoghurt.

Locals selling their products near the market. There is a definite increase in poverty in the Northwestern region of Argentina compared to the rest of the country.

We didn’t spend so much time in Salta to really appreciate the city, but we have seen Cafayate and were on our way to Humahuaca. Honestly we didn’t think Salta was such a beautiful city, but we think tourists rave more about the city due to the opportunities of day trips from Salta. The alternative option of San Salvador Jujuy is apparently not so nice. Our bus left Salta at around 10 am.

Cobus haven’t completely recovered from the flu yet, so we were thankful for the two more quiet days in a nice and clean hostel. Travelling is hard work 😉 and to give yourself a day off seems to be more important than we originally thought.

Mark 6:31

31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

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