Arriving in Salta, coming from Resistencia, where I almost got stuck, because the quality of life was so great, rain was greeting my bus pulling into the city’s main terminal. Readers of this blog won’t be really surprised that I did not stay in Resistencia and moved on instead. Because there is still so much more to explore and discover on this great continent. But I might go back to Resistencia one day.
Salta is one of the key backpacker towns, where a lot of travelers choose to set base to explore the neighboring towns of San Salvador de Juyuny, Cafayate and Cachi. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t really on my side. Moreover, visiting most of these places would involve booking tours – which was beyond my budget. Therefore, the planned stay for a week in Salta, quickly washed away into a small two night stopover where I simply would visit the downtown area.
Actually, this weather pattern is a first introduction into what is going be the challenge for the next leg of my trip, when I will be traveling even further North. It is rain season in Peru and Bolivia. This will also influence the way I’ll be doing the “loop” from Lima through Peru and Bolivia. Starting in Lima, then going counter-clockwise through the North of Chile, Bolivia and ending the trip at the historical site of Machu Picchu (Peru) is an unusual itinerary. But traveling this way, I do hope to circumvent most of the rain season.
In Salta, the tourist atmosphere is very relaxed. Visiting the architecture of the historic buildings is definitely worth the trip. This town looks more “South American” (according to my European stereotypical expectations) than any other place I have visited so far on this continent. Salta is probably also a good introduction into what I will get to see further North in Peru and Bolivia.
One of the other main reasons for me to come here, was the scenic “Tren de las Nubes” (Train of the clouds), which is supposed to be one of the most breathtaking and scenic train rides in the world. But then again, rain season meant that the track is currently being closed. On offer was a tour by bus which would follow some of the stretches of the railway line. This wasn’t really what I’d call a spectacular and scenic ride – therefore I did choose to pass on that one. I was quite disappointed, but I am the only one to blame for lack of proper planning and timing of the visit.
Nevertheless, the town of Salta had quite spectacular views, namely the “Cerro San Bernardo”, where I could test the strengths of my camera’s zoom lens. A lot of activity was also going on at the “Plaza of 9th July”. There, I found a vegetarian restaurant. Whew! I was now really looking for this kind of food, since I was fed up a bit by the constant overdose of meat in Argentinean meals. I started to almost have to throw up when smelling the faint odor of cooked meat evaporating from various kitchen windows.
Yes, the overdose of meat is that serious! I was starting to live out of fruit and yogurt bought at supermarkets – substituting most of the daily meals. And I became a regular visitor to “McDonalds”, where I would enjoy the variety of salad dish coming at a descent price. Probably, the pressure of eating meat all the time was one of the reasons, why I did not want to stay in Resistencia, too.
So I left rainy Salta after two nights only, on a long bus trip to Mendoza. Tickets on the regular bus (“semi-cama”) were sold out and so I booked – for the first time – a first class bus (“cama”), which would leave five minutes later than the regular bus. While all the backpackers would leave with the regular bus, I was walking up to the posh vehicle bearing the huge signs which marked it as “Ejecutivo” and “Primera Classa”.
Standing in a crowd of nicely dressed, elderly American tourists with my Rucksack, I did hope that no one from the nearby “Backpacker bus” would spot me. Or – if they would – that we never would see again. I was so embarrassed. Service on my bus was not worth the exorbitant price. On top of that, the air conditioning in the ceiling above my seat was pissing water during the whole trip. Which I had to fix myself, using napkins and cushions from the seat, because the car attendant wasn’t keen on getting his hands dirty to fix this little detail.
Well, Murphy’s law predicts that I would bump into the other backpackers again – which I did. Me riding first class on this trip was one of the discussion subjects at the hostel in Mendoza. But that’s another story coming up in my next blog entry.