2 full days in Salta to gather myself together and finally get some damn blog/photo updates done! Salta is a really cool city, it feels like a small town, but it has all the facilities of a full-blown city, plus the footpaths crowded with hip young thangs (Argentina is known for it's fashionistas!) remind you that this is a city of just under 1 million happy Argentinians.
And they really are happy. Everyone here is so polite and smiling!
They do tend to walk rather slowly here on the narrow pavements though, which is rather annoying, so I spend much of my time walking on the precarious roads... although the drivers (as in Chile) have more road sense here than in the rest of South America!
There are not many sights here beyond what I saw when I arrived from Chile (more salt flats, lagoons, plus coloured-sand mountains) and this is the ideal situation for me: I spent the whole day yesterday just cleaning up my camera equipment after the Uyuni boiling mud incident, fixing a tear in my bag, washing the green bag that stank of sweat, and just generally relaxing in the beautiful central plaza... people watching while I sit in the 22C sunshine sipping an ice-cold Coke.
The plaza reminds me of something you might see in a minor French or Italian city. Whereas Chile may tend to look toward the US for it's cultural/architectural inspiration, Argentina clearly looks toward Europe!
This town would be an excellent launching point for any trips northward as you can stock up on just about anything you will need. I bought camera cleaning equipment in a camera shop.. got the bag fixed at a bag-repair shop... got lens cleaner for my sunglasses in an opticians (of which there seem to be 100s).
First Argentinian steak
These are services that I have sorely missed for the past few weeks as things have gotten damaged, or supplies have run out!
They even have a cinema showing films in English! Might try to catch Shutter Island tonight if it's on... I miss the cinema!
Last night I had a delicious 400g paradilla steak in the main square along with chips and a glass of wine. Came to around 10 euro incl tip! I can understand now the hype surrounding Argentinian meat.. it was so succulent. That's what you get when you give a cow 1000s of square km of green pasture to chew up!
I also got chatting to some local ladies from Buenos Aires who inadvertedly reminded me why Argentinians are sometimes regarded as snobs among all other South Americans: they spouted on about the great history and food of Argentina and how they seemed to have more "class" than Chileans - who they regarded as being more like Americans. They had some interesting info about IRA members who fled to Ushaia in the 70s, and otherwise were really nice people who shared their empanadas with me (empenadas are basically pastries filled with meat and veg, and apparently Salta is renowned for it's mini empanadas), but I got my first taste of the "pride" that Argentinans are famed for.
All good. Better to be proud than not!
Anyway.. gonna spend today uploading more pics and updating as many diariy entries as I can before I go blind staring at the tiny 12" laptop screen!