Leaving Bolivia and first steps in Argentina by Baz
Last time I did a blog we had bought train tickets to leave the freezing cold of Uyuni and head to the border with Argentina.Unfortunately the train was cancelled because of the protests that were taking place throughout the Country ahead of the election.This meant a couple more days in Uyuni, which we could have done without.We eventually left by early morning bus and were delighted to be heading to slightly warmer climates.
The bus was delayed for about 20 minutes as we waited for late passangers.They were 6 Israelis.3 guys and 3 girls and they were the most agressive, loud group Ive come across.Shouting about "f···ing Bolivia", arguing amongst each other and being quite blunt with other people on the bus.One guy in particular was the ringleader (he spoke perfect Spanish, and English with an American accent) and when he flaired up his girlfriend would try to kiss him and calm him down like he was a wild animal needing tamed.A Kiwi guy sitting behind us mentioned that they do 3 years compulsory service in the Army and come out with 2000 US Dollars and a lot of agression.These guys were a nightmare.I enjoyed watching their antics immensely.In the end they missed their connecting bus and the "wild animal" was trying to get the bus driver to get off the bus for a fight. (DISCLAIMER - as this forum is open to the public and so as not to start a war between Ireland and Islael I would like to point out that, although all Israelis may be agressive and loud, my experience relates only to the people on the bus from Uyuni to Tupiza.Other Israelis may be charming peace loving people and Im sure there are one or two who actally are).
We stopped off in Tupiza, in Southern Bolivia and spent 2 nights there.Its a beautiful part of the country with rugged countryside typified by jagged mountains and cactus trees.Its has a real "wild west" feel, and in fact Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came here when the heat got too much in the North of the country.They were killed here in Bolivia (if you remember from the Paul Newman, Robert Redford film).We went horseriding for a couple of hours through the countryside and although we got a few fotos of me and Seonaid looking steelyfaced like experienced cowboys/girls our asses were absolutely killing us.
Racism isnt a subject I thought Id been mentioning here on this blog, but I feel I need to speak up.On 2 occasions in Bolivia Seonaid and I were walking past a group of people and one of them shouted "Gringo", which I believe is a disparaging term for a person who is not a native of South America.I have developed a deep and attractive tan during the 7 weeks I have been here, so they are referring only to Seonaid, but I really feel for her.As a result of this abuse I can fully empathise with the struggle of black America, particularly highlighted during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and beyond.
We then travelled by bus to Argentina and after a brief overnight in the hotel from ¨The Shining" our first proper stop has been Salta City.Salta is a breath of fresh air.A lovely climate both night and day, a real European feel, decent food, friendly people and a very professional tourism product.We´ve been here for 5 nights now and we may stay 1 or 2 more before heading on to Buenos Aires.Ive been really enjoying the steak in Argentina, although I have noticed some differences in quality.We tried a Parilla the other day.Its a mixed grill.I was really looking forward to it but the meat seemed to be really bad quality, and there were some staff that looked like intestines and tasted the way I would imagine intestines would taste.It was minging to say the least.
A couple of nights we have went to the local market and had Pizza and beer. It seems a really popular thing for couples and families to do, particularly at the weekend.There is a great buzz about the market. Shop keepers in Argentina guard their small change (coins) fanatically.If you dont have the right change for a product they scowl at you.I honestly considered throwing a couple of bananas back at a man in the market after the look he gave me when I handed him 10 pecos.
Yesterday we went on a tour to a number of wineries.It was about 2 hours away in Cayafate and a lovely drive through valleys and gorges witnessing some breathtaking scenery.The wineries were interesting and we tasted a right few wines, all of which were quite strong tasting - something to do with the strong sun in the area I think.
We´ve spend a couple of evenings in a local pub here in Salta which has a curious name.Its an Irish bar and its logo has a silouette of a Leprechaun but the bar is called "The Goblin".The association between Ireland and a Goblin is completely lost on me but I guess you have to applaud their ingenuity - there are too many Leprechauns, and Killkenny Irish bars.Tonight we might dump "The Goblin" and go to its popular neighbour, "The Green Smurf Irish Bar".