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It’s Salta the earth in Argentina

June 2012

We left magnificent Iguazu Falls, straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, feeling elated: Yes, life is a trip and our world in its natural splendour can be magnificent.

We boarded the bus heading for Salta—in northwestern Argentina just below the Bolivian border and east of Chile—at 9:45 am. But this 25-hour Flecha Bus ride was nothing like the ride-in-luxury we enjoyed from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu: No service. No drinks. A lousy dinner at 10 pm and an automatic flushing toilet in attack mode.

Still, we managed to sleep well, arrived in Salta and, rolling along with our backpacks-on-wheels, found a wonderful the old and charming Hotel Sarta on one corner of the town’s beautiful central square called Julio 9. We found the hotel ourselves, the price was right, and were we proud of our find! Everything was within a five-minute walk, including an artsy coffee shop, the Fine Arts Museum where we saw children’s interpretations of modern masters and three local artists, the Van Gogh Café, where we had lunch, a string of outdoor vendors selling ethnic jewellery and an archeological museum that happened to be closed for the summer. We hardly left the square.

This town of half a million is all about charm. We settled in for a couple of days and got used to the hospitality and slow pace of northern Argentina before setting out for the Inca villages to the north—Humahuaca, Purmamarca and Tilcara.

The first night we saw a concert/ dance/song performance by local youth of all ages. I believe we were the only tourists among the many proud parents. We were very happy in Salta.

The weather was perfect (30C or 86F in the shade), the city clean and pretty, the architecture some of the loveliest we’ve seen, and the people friendly and helpful. The magenta and yellow Igelsia San Franncisco is the town’s most striking landmark.

Our hotel exuded as much old world elegance as one hotel can, but the outdoor pool-bathtub, with little shade, left a little to be desired.

What a beautiful city! We walked down the small streets off the plaza to find a superb Lebanese restaurant featured in our guidebook.

I discovered a hole-in-the-wall coiffure and had my hair coloured (now you know) and trimmed for a mere $30.

It started to pour as I was being converted back to my younger self, and by the time I had to leave to walk back and meet Irwin at the hotel, there were pools of water on the streets. The thunderstorm seemed to come out of nowhere, typical for this season.

(In Buenos Aires we were drenched at least twice a day and only remembered our raincoats the second day.)

After three nights of exploring this lovely town, we headed out on a short bus ride (four hours) to Humahuaca, our first Inca village on the Salta to Bolivia route.



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