We got the bus from Jujuy to Salta on 10th August, and had a fun and rather late first night at a BBQ organised by our hostel (owned by a friendly English guy who used to be a second-hand car salesman and whose description of the hostel on the website is aptly a little ´creative´). Met some Irish guys and an American at the BBQ (who showed us some brilliant tricks with cards/ nails/ coins which we´ll be trying out on you when we return), so we spent some time with them during our time in Salta.
We puzzled our way together through the film ´Inception´ at the cinema but overall thought it wasn´t really worth all the hype. Went out for dinner (with another Australian girl) and then the next day a few us went up the cable car to the viewpoint and afterwards wished we´d not bothered - Salta is not the most picturesque town from on high (especially on a murky day) so we´ve spared you any photos of the view. We also visited an interesting archaeological museum where there is a mummified Inca girl on display. It was pretty humbling to come face to face with a teenager who´d been offered for human sacrifice several hundred years ago. She is amazingly well preserved because of the climatic conditions of where she was found.
On the Friday evening, we managed to bag the last table at a peña show where musicians play traditional music and dancers strut their stuff amongst the tables (thankfully, neither Roland or I were selected to join in). There was some lovely Spanish guitar music which you´d have liked, Dad. We got to know a couple of friendly locals who were mechanics for a racing team that was travelling to a local race (we only gleaned that after dusting off our pictionary skills and drawing a picture of a racing car on a paper napkin). They invited us to come and stay at their homes near Buenos Aires which was very kind of them, but with them not really speaking English and us not really speaking Spanish, we´d probably run out of things to say pretty swiftly...
On Saturday 13th we travelled to Cafayate - our favourite place in Argentina so far. It´s a wine region, known especially for its crisp white Torrontes. We were in a lovely hostel - the converted house of the grandparents of the owner - with a sunny courtyard perfect for reading, overlooked by vines and mountains. The Irish couple we´d met in Salta were also staying there so we went out for a couple of nice meals with them - including a local meat-feast BBQ (there´s a theme here...) where we tried some of the local cuts (a little bit chewy but full of flavour) and to a bar with great live music.
We really loved Cafayate - it´s a fairly small town with a pretty central plaza perfect for al fresco lunching, surrounded by gorgeous countryside. We hired a tandem on one day which was fun once we´d mastered the art of riding, well, in tandem. It had the hardest saddles in the world and, weirdly, handlebars that were so rock hard I had bruised hands - but maybe that was just because I was clinging on for dear life? The following day we opted for plain old single person bikes which were infinitely easier to manage and had a great day (on flat roads, thankfully) visiting a local winery and a goat´s cheese factory where we enjoyed various tastings (cheese and wine, mmm). We also saw some baby goats that had been born that same day, very cute and bambi-like. We were also really lucky with the weather during our stay so I lapped up the sunshine while Roland did his best to stay in the shade...
On Wednesday 18th we had to reluctantly say goodbye to Cafayate to start our epic journey by bus to Buenos Aires. The first bus journey was a mere five hours to Tucuman where we had a few hours to kill (and where we inadvisedly followed a Lonely Planet recommendation for a very average pizza place). Then it was bus number two - 15 hours to the capital. We were in ´executivo´ class so it wasn´t so bad but just a long, long journey. They even serve wine and food which is a nice distraction, less so the game of bingo played throughout the bus (our Spanish numbers just aren´t up to playing bingo - we´d call full house and they´d be like ´no, that last number was 76 not 67...´)
So, now we´re in Buenos Aires which is a great city but we´ll post an entry for that another time as we´re travelling in and out of here a few times in between a trip down south to spot whales and then up to Iguassu falls for my birthday.
We´ll be back in touch in a couple of weeks - especially as by then we´ll have our well-travelled new netbook which has been at the vagaries of DHL and Argentinian customs officials.
hasta lluego for now
lots of love
Helene and Roland xxx