Back in Buenos Aires, I give you the details of my wonderful trip to Salta and Jujuy. Although I did not have my great IFSA friends to accompany me, not having my wonderful IFSA friends also helped open other doors for me. One of the things I wrote as feedback for my program was that there was not enough integration for us with Argentines. Without the integration, I felt that my Spanish faltered as well. On the first day I arrived at the Salamanca hostel in the city of Salta, I was met with a big backpack in the other bed of the room I was sharing. I was excited to meet this girl, but I left the room to tour the beautiful and simple city. In the city, I saw the adorable feria artesenal, a fair of artesian, handmade, typical goods. Next to the fair, there was a park which I walked through.
A bit farther off, I was met with the plaza, Plaza de 9 de Julio, with its beautiful monuments, surrounded by cafes, shops, restaurants, town council, cathedral, museum, and hotels. I had a wonderful café con leche and walked around the plaza, taking pictures. I proceeded to explore the beautiful and spiritual cathedral in which there were people gathering for mass. Lastly, I went to the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (Museum of Archeology and High Mountains). I’m not particularly interested in seeing tall mountains in a museum, but was told the museum left an impression and went anyway. To be honest, the majority of the museum was nothing too amazing. However, the exhibition of the mummies of the children who were sacrificed in an Incan ritual was amazing. Though the exhibition had an eerie feel, learning about what happened so long ago was impacting especially in the midst of a developed Argentina. The children of high status and prestige (who had purposely molded conic shaped heads) were chosen for a ritual in which they were put to sleep and buried in incredibly high altitude in mountains of Salta and Jujuy. Unlike Egyptian mummies, these mummies were not artificially preserved, but remained because of the temperature of the mountains and the pressure of the altitude.
Anyhow, when I got back to the room, I said hello to Kata from Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. That night we got empanadas from the nearby restaurant and chatted. The next day, I went to the beautiful path following the tren de las nubes or train of the clouds. We went to Santa Rosa de Tastil, a small town of 12 people, with solar panels, and another small museum with a xylophone of volcanic rock and another natural mummy. We went to Pumamarca to see the seven colored mountains, and Las Salinas Grandes, or great salt mines. All the while, in a small truck, I chatted in Spanish with the tour guide, Gonzalo, and Bibiana a woman from Rosario. I also chatted in English with Maggie and Claire, two friends from Ireland. That night, I actually went out to dinner with Bibiana after exchanging email addresses and phone numbers. I had llama ravioli with pesto, which was absolutely divine. The following day, I had a tour again with Gonzalo and Claire and Maggie.
The places we went were amazing and are incredibly important as places of nature, grandeur, and visual enigmas. But, the people I met and had the experience with are what will really last. The pictures of the mountains will stay on Facebook. But I will really remember an incredible day with Bibiana, two with Claire and Maggie, and our conversations. In fact, being able to speak in Spanish with Bibiana and Gonzalo, translate some for Claire and Maggie, and then proceed speaking in English with Claire and Maggie was an amazing experience and realization for me. So much more Spanish was spoken than when traveling with friends, and I really got to know people that I couldn’t have had I been with IFSA friends.
IFSA friends, I love you so, but with or without the program’s last week was phenomenal. Traveling alone has really opened my eyes to who I am socially and what I really want from this program. All the other goals I had in the beginning of the program were important. But the one I prioritize now is forming meaningful relationships.