Salta La Linda
After spending a month in a half in a Buenos Aires that as of late has has only showed an interest in being rainy and cold, I decided to get out of town. That’s when some of my friends told me about Salta. Warm weather, majestic mountains, delicious comida típica, what was not to love?
I left for Salta on a Wednesday at 8:30, barely making the bus after being tremendously confused by the arrival and departure list in the station. The bus was very nice, with semi-reclining seats and all you can drink coffee or as is more appropriate in this situation, sugar-water. Fifteen hours later I was standing under a tree in the middle of the pampas with nothing but scrubland and the fuming bus in sight. As I listened to the elderly Argentine woman cuss under their breath and the bus captain try and repair the bus with what might have been a hammer, I wondered if I would ever make it to Salta. Perhaps Salta didn’t exist at all and was simply a prank played on unsuspecting Yankees where the bus company arrives back in Buenos Aires after 20-odd hours.Luckily my fears were unfounded. When I finally got to Salta I didn’t have much time to do anything so I went to sleep and prepared for the next day.
Salta had a really unique vibe. The relatively diminutive colonial style buildings gave the admittedly large city the feeling of a smaller community and the arid hills surrounding the city gave way to towering mountains in the country. With empanada and tamale restaurants on every corner and several impressive pastel cathedrals, Salta had a distinct Spanish colonial feel that is absent from Buenos Aires.
The city had a dearth of things to do, highlighted by the Museo Arqueologico de Altas Montañas, a museum that contained three mummies of Incan children sacrificed to ensure the grace of the Incan gods. Adjacent to the city center was a small mountain which could be ascended using a gondola that departed from a city park. I later, in what I can only assume was a fit of madness, ran to the top of the mountain and ran back down, getting myself lost in the process.
However, the highlight of my trip took place south of the city on the Rio Juramento, when my friends and I went rafting with the excellent Salta Rafting, which I whole-heartedly recommend should any of you find yourself in Salta. The river swirled through a dynamic landscape of sheer cliffs and mountains, flung from the Earth’s crust by the convergence of the Nazca and South American plate beneath our feet. Within the stratified rock jutting diagonally at the river’s edge, fossilized algae gave a sense of how the region at one point was submerged beneath the ocean. Also the rafting was incredibly fun, we even had a canine guest on our raft, though his contribution to the paddling was minimal.
Unfortunately, I ended up getting stuck in Salta an extra night, away from my friends. The city became slightly more boring after this because the natural beauty of the region requires planning to see, and my extra night in Salta was completely unplanned. Eventually I made it back to BA after an incredibly boring bus-ride, but I did finish the second Game of Thrones book so it wasn’t a total loss.