On the road again, just can't wait to get back on the road again... Off we set with our 2 new Israeli buddies Idan & Roey and our funny American friend, Jonny. Salta was our next stop and sadly our last stop in Argentina. A good group of 5, me being the only female, although Andrew is questionable sometimes as he moans more than any woman during that time of the month than I know.
Another long and unforgettable bus journey to Salta. For some reason, Andrew and I seemed to be cursed when it comes to kids getting sick beside us. We were sitting behind a mother and her two young children and one of the kids had really bad motion sickness.... Lucky us! After a few hours into the journey, I entertained myself by making faces at the youngest of the kids while his mother wasn't looking, I just wanted to scare him really. The older kid then vomited all over himself, the seats, a poor man sitting to the left of him and all over the ground. The smell nearly made everyone on the bus vomit also. Making my journey even more uncomfortable were the incredibly itchy Mosquitos bites (49 to be exact, 10 of which were on my ass) and you just can't get away with scratching that part of your body in public. You can't get a bus direct from Iguazu to Salta so we had to go via Tucuman and then get a connecting bus to Salta. Thank god for the connecting bus because as soon as we drove into Tucuman we wanted to leave it, it wouldn't be the nicest of places so take my advice and don't stay here.
I pre-booked our hostel as usual and I'm happy to say it was our cheapest hostel yet in Argentina at €6 a night and a lovely hostel it was too. It had the most amazing showers ever and very comfortable beds. We arrived very late the first night so went straight to bed, looking forward to a good nights sleep that hadn't come in days but not before we were introduced to Jonny's diva mask. His one luxury item is a black silk eye mask that he himself named "my diva mask". We all cracked up laughing uncontrollably meaning Jonny refused to wear it in front of us again.
The following day we decided to explore Salta and try out some (native to Salta) seriously good empanadas. The chicken (pollo in spanish) being the best in my opinion. We did the general touristy things that you have to do while in a new places like, visit some churches, museums, parks etc. We got a chair lift up to the mountain top to the view point of the city which was very beautiful. There is a playground, park and some gardens up there too, keeping you mildly entertained for at least and hour.
North Argentina is very different to the rest of the country. The people look more indigenous and things seem a lot more traditional like the presence of folklore dance which is basically people dancing in a circle, clicking their fingers. We loved this because even me and Andrew could manage this one, people with absolutely no rhythm. I even struggle to follow an aerobics class. Another thing you're bound to see all across Salta are the real argentine cowboys called Guachos. We stopped to take a pictures, they seemed to love the camera posing for us every time. They looked like something something out of a wild-west film, fully kitted out with rope and all.
The best part of Salta is the surrounding scenic area but to get there you need a car. The places we visited were incredible, these amazing coloured mountain ranges like scenes out of Planet of the Apes. We all decided to rent a car to leave for the following day. There was 5 of us so it only worked out at 240 pesos each. The Israelis, we discovered were very skilled in the art of negotiating prices so we let them do the hard talk. Back to hostel with the car but not before a stop in the supermarket for some lovely boxed wine. We stayed up far too late drinking and playing card games that I'm never able to play or remember meaning I always end up having to drink more than the average person. After a few too many drinks Jonny as Idan and Roey of they were shown any crazy military fighting techniques but in his words it was more like this "they definitely showed you some karate-ass-chopping-s***". Oh how we all laughed.
The next morning, all very much in a fragile state, I managed to drag myself out of bed while Jonny and Andrew lay comatose choosing not to hear me shout at them. I told Idan (who was only in the military for 7 years) about this and he seemed to be able to do a much better job at getting them up then me. We drove south to a place called Cafayate, making lots of stops along the way through the martian-like landscape of the Quebrada de Cafayate. We made many stops along the way at distinctive sandstone landforms and all these amazing rock formations. Including The Devil's Throat, The Friar, Castles, The Obelisk and my favourite The Toad, which looked exactly like a a toad, it was scary. We stopped for lunch in Cafayate which was horrible, we all agreed that the food we had on the bus the day before was much better. We drove on through even more impressive scenery until we arrive in a town called Cachi, spending the night there. It's a real small, old town but very nice and by far the most visually impressive in North Argentina so definitely worth a stop over.
Another early start, thanks to me and Sergeant Idan's regimented style we got everyone up for 7.30am, although no one was very happy about it. We drove North to San Salvador, Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy and Purmamarca (famous for its 7 coloured mountains). This again was a lovely scenic drive, made even better by our interesting car games along the way. The landscape is beautifully rugged the whole way, it's no wonder 2 of the places are Unesco World Heritage sites. The 7 coloured mountains were really impressive, great for photos. We drove back to Salta that night making a pit stop at the bus station to buy our tickets to Tarija, Bolivia. Word of advice, never book your tickets in advance when going anywhere in Bolivia. Bolivia which we very quickly realised makes its own rules. Me, Andrew, Idan, Roey and Jonny all bought tickets for the next day..... It turns out there was a strike on all buses but luckily enough our bus was the only one still going. We did have to walk to a seedy place behind a petrol station to get it. We also had to close all the curtains, turn off the lights and be completely silent for the first hour. I guess they really didn't want people to know we were on the bus, It worked though, we made into Bolivia with no border issues. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Jonny in Salta as being American for him had too many issues. For one they all have to pay about $150 every time they go into a new country in South America. I've always said it, having an Irish passport doesn't get much better, it's definitely the most non-judgmental of them.
Next stop chaotic Bolivia, Tarija.
I'll keep you posted!!