After Buenos Aires, we flew to Salta for a few days. It feels like it’s been quite a short visit but we’ve definitely taken a big step away from the European influenced part of Argentina.
We arrived early afternoon and settled into our hotel. It was a cute, family owned hotel with a small pool and very noisy air conditioning. After freshening up, we headed for the main square, 9 de Julio, where we got some really yummy empanadas. It felt like we waited an age for them but it was worth it!
Kike (our guide) told us a lot about Salta and it’s post-colonial history. It’s famous for tabacco and cattle (milk and meat) and is sandwiched between some of the Andes with a jungle climate and some with a dry climate. He told us about 2 mummies that were found up one of the nearby mountains in 1995 which are the oldest known mummies and also the most well preserved mummies today. Now they are in a museum off the main square for the public to see. They’ve taught us a lot about health etc from the time so they’re very important.
After our very late lunch we went to the San Bernado mountain and went up in a gondola. The views were amazing and, until we got to the top, I had thought that Salta was fairly small but it’s actually massive! It’s home to some 620,000 residents and as it’s so flat, you can see the buildings going far into the distance. The view was amazing but we only had 15 minutes before the last gondola down. It would normally take about 30 minutes to walk but I’ve injured my leg and I love being in the air!
On the way home we walked past the huge park in the middle of the city and it was absolutely rammed! There were families everywhere, volleyball, food carts, football games, music, everything! It was such a nice vibe and made me wish England was warm enough that everyone did this on a weekly basis too! By the time we had got home, the sun was setting and the sky was a beautiful shade of purple. I tried my best to get a good picture of it behind the people’s church but I’m still feeling like a pretty novice photographer.
In the evening, Ammun and I went out to get some dinner and wine and on our way walked through a night market. It was about 8.30pm and people were setting up their stalls (rugs on the floor) with clothing, pottery, bags and tacky gifts like flipping toy dogs. The streets were so full and the queue for the 1 ATM was insanely long! Afterwards we returned to the hotel and ate or slightly dodgy looking pizza and drank our wine with a few others from the group by the pool. It was nice to get a chance to properly get to know some of the group.
The next day was amazing. I had my first decent nights sleep and was excited to go horse riding in the jungle side of the Andes. We went to a small, cute little farm about an hour away and a friendly guy called David greeted us. After all the horses had been saddled up and we’d all coated ourselves in bug repellant and sun cream, we were all given a horse and were on our way. My horse was called Margarita and I soon learned that she liked to trot and eat. We walked through valleys, passed cattle and got some great views of the city from above. I think Kike told David that I spoke Spanish as he came and rode next to me and we spoke in Spanish a bit. He told me that I have a good Spanish accent so I was very happy! We were told to hold the reins slightly tight so that the horse knows we’re in control otherwise it may try and bite our feet. However, another girl in my group must have not been doing that properly and instead of her horse biting her, it went straight for my leg!! I would say the pain level was about the same as when I was head butted by a cow in India except this time, I’ve been left with a cracking bruise on my thigh! I’m seeing the funny side of it though because it is pretty hilarious.
After the two hour long horse ride in 32 degree heat, we returned very hungry, thirsty and quite a few of us burnt the back of our necks and hands and forearms. My hands and forearms are so red and burnt, I’m so gutted. I haven’t been this sun burnt in so so long! I was doing so well until now! We were then served a bottomless BBQ with salad and it was sooo yummy! We also had bottomless red wine so we left feeling very satisfied and ready for a siesta!
The evening was then spent preparing for our 10-12 hour bus journey to Chile the next day. We were told to eat lots of carbs and drink Powerade to hydrate ourselves a lot as we’ll be reaching 5000m of altitude and carbs and hydration will help our bodies adapt to the change in conditions. We also bought breakfast, lunch and a lot of snacks ready.
HOWEVER. Although the journey started well (at 6am!), it’s now 11:30am and we’ve been told that we won’t make it to Chile today. Because of a huge electrical storm, the bus has turned back and we’re stuck between two rivers over the road so I have no idea what the rest of today and tomorrow will be. There are four cuts in the road between Salta and the Chilean border where the water has worn away at the road so badly that it has split like an earthquake has hit it. When we first turned around, I saw some people wading through a river at thigh height with nothing but a rucksack and in hysterical tears so this storm is pretty serious. We haven’t moved in 45 minutes and there’s still quite a bit of thunder and lightening so fingers crossed we move soon because my butt is still sore from the horse riding!
Hopefully my next blog will be from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile but who knows right now….
Update: we have turned back to Salta and made it back at 1pm the next day. I’ll put all those dramas in the next blog post!!