Following a sad farewell to Theo and Megan, I took the overnight bus from Mendoza to travel north to Salta. I was back to travelling on my lonesome again so it was time to reset and start a fresh.
18 hours later I arrived in another of Argentina's cities on what was Easter Sunday.. no chocolate eggs for me today though.
I'd been told off a few people that there isn't much to see in Salta and that Cafayate would be a better place to stay, but with no direct buses from Mendoza, Salta was my only option.
It was a short 15 minute walk from the bus station to the La Covacha Hostel where I checked in for 2 nights. I was greeted by the lovely owner Diego who helped me book onto a tour of Cafayate for the following day.
Easter Sunday meant everything was pretty much closed but Diego had mentioned that the viewpoint from Cerro San Bernardo could be an option for me.. the monument sits high up on a hill way above Salta providing panoramic views over the city.
There are two options to reach the top.. cable car or walk up a few thousand steps. Since I've hardly been able to fit any sort of work-out into my travels I chose the latter, power-walking my way to the top. Sweat on!
The views were decent but by no means mind blowing in comparison to other viewpoints on my trip. The weather was overcast so I guess that didn't help to paint a prettier picture.
Once back at the bottom, I hit the supermarket to grab some easy food to take back to the hostel. Being wiped out from another marathon journey and a 7.00am start the next day I decided to have a chilled one.
The minibus for Cafayate picked me up early on Tuesday morning and it quickly became apparent that the full day tour would mostly comprise of an age range more suited to a Saga Holiday. With only one other fluent English speaker I was preparing myself for a long old day! Headphones in!
Two hours or so later we'd reached our first of many stop-offs en route to Cafayate.. a red canyon in La Viña.. not bad! The tour guide cranked things up a notch at the next stop in Guachipas.. another canyon, but we were able to walk inside this one and it was pretty huge. While surrounded and engulfed by the huge rock formation, a man high above us with guitar in hand randomly broke out into song giving a rousing performance of Ben E. King's 'Stand By Me'. It sounded pretty damn good as the spherical shape of the canyon amplified his voice and guitar.
As the day went on the landscapes and scenery began to fly off the rictor with several "F-me!" moments. Mountains, valleys, gauges, canyons, rivers, skies.. they all got grander and more impressive creating some incredible panoramic shots. My words certainly can't do them justice, nor can my photos for that matter.
Half way through the trip we stopped off at Bodega Domingo for a tour of the distillery and more wine tasting! The tour was given in Spanish which meant I understood nothing.. so probably the same amount had it been in English with not having a clue about wine.
I'd been speaking broken English with a Colombian girl called Julianna, aswell as Laura, an Argentinian girl. They kindly asked if I'd like to join them for dinner when we were given 2 hours to ourselves to explore the tiny centre of Cafayate. An Austrian girl also joined us who spoke fluent English so between the four of us we had a decent convo over some nice traditional food.
We made a few more stop-offs on our way back before returning to Salta around 7.30pm. To say I'm not one for booking myself onto tours, I actually quite enjoyed this one. On the way back, Julianna and Laura invited me to a traditional dance/fiesta kind of thing in the centre of the city not far from my hostel. I was tired from such a long day and I had yet another early start for the bus that I'd booked to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.. but I thought what the hell, I'm only going to be sat on my ass for hours on end anyway.
We'd arranged to meet up at 9.30pm so it gave me chance to have a much needed shave and get ready. I opened up my locker and grabbed my bag.. it took 5 minutes of sorting through a few things to then realise that my beard trimmer wasn't there.. I'd actually been robbed! Two iPhones, a digital camera and my damn beard trimmer, gone.. even though my padlock and hinges were both still in tact. However, the screws to the hinges looked to have been tampered with.
To be fair to Diego, the owner, he was great and took me down to the police station to help translate and file a report. Unfortunately that was my night over with by the time I'd finished at the station so I had to give the fiesta a miss.
The chief suspects were an Argentinian mother and daughter who I was sharing a 4-bed dorm with. They knew I was out on an all-day tour, as was the fourth person from the dorm, and they supposedly checked out at midday.
If it was them.. I hope they both rot in hell and the mother makes use of my beard trimmer as she could certainly do with using one, the snoring old bag! Karma will come back to haunt them..
You'd think I'd be really pissed off, I'm not though, I'm more annoyed that I can't have a frickin shave and that people would actually do such a thing! However, something much more important and exciting is completely occupying my mind right now which is definitely the reason I'm not bummed about having my stuff robbed.. I'll be buzzing if it can be pulled off! Every cloud and all that..
Early start in the morning.. travelling north-west to cross back over the border to Chile again, where San Pedro in the Atacama desert will be my destination. I've heard great things about the place so I'm intrigued to find out what my first visit to a desert will provide.
Oh, and Salta...
Being there for under two days didn't give me a real chance to explore what the city had to offer but walking around the place was pretty underwhelming and bland. All the tours and attractions point outwards so that gives you an idea of what's going on here.. not a lot!
Adiós amigos xx