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Published: April 12th 2013
9/4/13 Cordoba to Salta
Once again another mile long walk to the bus station, found our stop, got on the bus, got handed ‘breakfast’ and off we set for the 13 hour marathon to Salta. We had the front seats at the top which meant great views but being baked in the sun, there was a tv screen near us and films were shown continuously. The bus did actually stop once for 30 minutes – so the driver could eat and then the non-stop filmathon continued until we arrived in Salta.
We walked to our hotel (the San Francisco) in the company of Rick from Orlando who was also on our bus and by the time we arrived we were totally knackered!
10 – 13th Salta, Argentina
Feeling better after a good night’s sleep we set out to try and arrange some day trips to do. Luckily we found a few agencies who spoke English and it soon became apparent that we were going to have to spend an extra night here or leave a day early in order to get a bus to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile as they only run on certain days
– this made me think of Rick and how he kept finding himself spending extra time in places because of the buses, this is the first time it has happened to us.
Anyway we opted for an extra day as Salta seems like a nice little place and there are plenty of trips on offer. So we booked two trips with Nordic travel who seem to be offering a better price than anyone else and if you pay for the trips in American dollars (fortunately we got some back in Uruguay) you get a really good exchange rate – all over Argentina they seem desperate for US dollars, and so it is cheaper still. We then had to find somewhere else to stay for the extra night as our hotel was full and find an ATM where our cards would work to pay for the bus. All of this actually took up the best part of the day so we didn’t get to see a lot of the town, but the old town where we are staying is really nice – all the usuals, cathedral, man on a horse, plaza, little streets etc.
However the traffic is MAD,
there can only be about 3 sets of traffic lights in the place and as it is on a grid system there are loads of roads to cross and the traffic just does not let up, there is no way anyone is going to stop to let a pedestrian cross the road so you really have to take your life into your hands to get anywhere, it’s crazy!
That evening we went up to the main square and had a look in the cathedral, there was a service going on so we just had a quick look in and saw the gruesomely graphic giant Christ on the cross and came out. We walked up past the square and suddenly were in a pedestrianized street that went on for miles, was guarded by police at each end of every road crossing and was choc a block with people out shopping! The shops are really big department stores and hundreds of electrical stores that also sell scooters and motorbikes, it was all a bit surreal and brought home the fact that we are actually in a giant sprawling city.
Once we got to the end we decided to go up
a block and follow the next road back and it turned out to be more of the same. We also came across a massive indoor market with a food court but it looked like the chickens had been hanging around for quite some time so we gave it a miss.
The prices of everything in the shops are really expensive I don’t know how the average Argentinian person survives. I guess the prices must be relative to their wages but from a UK perspective they are very steep. Howard informed me that there is a massive divide here between the rich and the poor and clearly we are mainly seeing the very affluent.
We ended up eating at a restaurant near our hotel and when we went in at 7.30pm there was only another 2 people in it, by 9.30pm the place was heaving and we had to wait for ages to get the bill. Everyone seems to eat so late over here it’s really weird I can’t figure out when they can go to bed if they are still eating at midnight!
11/4/13 Trip to Cachi
We were up at the unearthly time of 6.30am
again to be ready for our trip to Cachi. There were 11 of us in a minibus and as we were picked up last we got the back seats. We got chatting to a lad from Leeds (who lives in Sydney), a girl from London and another lad who were all travelling together and a girl from Montreal who was travelling on her own. There was also a Japanese lady with a boat load of cameras who kept wandering off and holding everyone up while she made the guide take her photo. However, it was really nice to have other people to talk to for a change.
It was an 11 hour trip and a lot of driving. We went up through the cloud forest and then the landscape changed to barren mountain scenery. There were a few stops at viewpoints for photos and then we went through the National Park. This was a cactus NP and I have never seen so many in my life, they went marching on for miles and miles of into the distance. Apparently this is the 2nd largest cactus NP in the world, the first is in New Mexico.
It was quite
interesting but in the end they are just cactus and there are only so many you can look at before it wears a bit thin. We had a lunch stop at a restaurant place in the middle of nowhere and as lunch wasn’t included and we had brought along sarnies it was a tad embarrassing, but the 3 amigos made us sit with them and we all swapped travelling tales – so now Howard regrets not doing Antarctica even more!
Eventually we reached Cachi where we had an hour to look around, it is a tiny little colonial style town high up in the mountains at about 11,500 feet. After a slow (altitude) walk around the few streets, a look in the church and a visit to the museum (everything was in Spanish, so we invented our own interpretations for things) with lots of petroglyphs and a couple of cactuses we had used up about 30 minutes, so we just sat in the square under the trees and stared at the man not on a horse (this time).
Then it was a long drive back down the way we had come, on the winding road with lots of
switch backs and I nodded off during the Spanish version of what to see in Salta and missed the English bit.
It was quite a good trip, but I thought a very long way to see not a lot apart from cactuses and mountains, Howard thought it was great!!! – no surprise there then.
Back at the hotel we were shattered so it was 3 biscuits and a packet of crisps for tea and then sleeeeeeep!
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