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Published: September 24th 2011
First night in Salta we had a wee look around the main square, which was very pretty. They are very good at lighting up their buildings here. We had to eat and as there is no sign of a supermarket anywhere and with cheap steak to be had, that is what we did. We are not doing well with the backpacker budget so far, but there is very little in the way of cheap, easy to cook, food. So we both ordered steak with a side. I ordered papas a la crème, which I guessed was potatoes in cream and Rob ordered something which he thought was some kind veg but it turned out to be apple sauce! I also ordered my usual coke and it came in a 1 litre GLASS bottle. You can’t beat coke in a glass bottle! I didn’t manage to drink all the coke, so took the bottle with me but was stopped on the way out and told I could not take it as it was against the law to have glass bottles outside, funny that since every newsagent sells coke, fanta etc in small glass bottles and opens them for you
there and then.
Next day was Rob’s birthday, so after opening the card from Louise and Billy that I had hidden in my pack, we headed out for our day on the ranch. We had booked a half day horse riding with BBQ (£60). We were picked up and driven to a ranch way into the mountains. It was a crazy drive, hairpin bends at 40 miles an hour on a dirt road. We were introduced to a couple of Americans who had been riding that morning and joining us for the BBQ. A 79 year old, retired police man from Colorado and his sister from Vegas. He was a chatty man who had travelled a lot in his life and told us about his time in Edinburgh as a police observer. However, he was also the most racist man I have met as he couldn’t resist getting in some dig at some race with each of his stories, e.g. ‘I hate heights. I wouldn’t chase the blacks over the rooftops, I would just shoot-em’
and ‘Algerian dirt-bags’
. Each time he did it, his sister would pipe up with ‘for god sake Michael, don’t say that, you don’t know
what people think’. The American’s left and we had a wait for another couple to be picked up as they would be joining us for the riding. While we waited, the other guy showed us the farm cats brand new litter of kittens. Obviously this was the highlight of my day. They were like wee sausages, eyes still shut and Mummy feeding all 5. It was sooo cute. I spent a lot of time in that room. The guy told us they weren’t sure who the Daddy cat was but assumed it was the white one ‘over there’, over where we wondered. He pointed to the many animal skins drying on the fence and we spotted the wee one. Obviously this horrified us both but he quickly explained that the dogs kill anything that threatens the chickens etc and that included Daddy cat :-(. I asked why he had skinned it and he said ‘for fun’
. It’s a Gaucho’s life I guess. He then got out the comments book and turned to a page from July, he pointed to one of the comments and told us this was the comment written by one of the 2 French girls that had
been kidnapped, raped and murdered in Salta the day after they had been at the Ranch. He then explained that he and the other guide were both arrested and questioned for 3 days about it. The girl had written her comment in French and a part of it was badly translated and it seemed she had said the BBQ was bad, so the police thought they may have killed them because of this! I could see, even though he was trying to keep it light, that it had been a terrible time for them both. Obviously it was very interesting and all but me and Rob were also quite horrified at this story especially after he just told us that he skinned cats! Anyway, the guys that did it are now in jail. I read up on it later and it was just horrible.
We then took a wonder over to the horses and tried to coax them over, but they weren’t interested, however the farm goat came over. I was surprised it let me pet it. It then stuck itself to the side of my leg and followed me everywhere. It was so cute. I love this goat.
It would then wonder off and try to piss off the horses by head butting them. Such a personality. Later in the day it played with the dogs, dummy fighting, head butting them and the dog wrestling with it, he sprang around the place like he actually had springs on his hoofs. Then he would come over, stick himself to my leg for a pet and catch his breath. Have you ever seen a goat out of breath?! He out did the dogs easily and they were avoiding him cause they were exhausted so he tried to head butt me a bit as well.
The other couple arrived and we were quickly shown our horses and how to get on them. Rob did a sterling job and mounted like a real Gaucho, I on the other hand was a different matter. Luckily I had the camera and it was not recorded. I just felt so sorry for the horse with by big fat ass clinging onto it for dear life, trying desperately to get my leg over! Once I was on though, I think I did the best out of the group riding wise. We were taken up through
the mountain and forest, trekking along. We had to duck a few times to avoid getting our heads chopped off by the trees. Once we got down from the trek, we went along the drive, about 300 yards from the house. I got bored with the walking, so encouraged my horse to go a little faster, she went into a trot which is not easy to ride. In fact I was sure I would fall off, so I slowed her down again. Rob shouting behind me ‘Tina slow down, you are too far ahead’
. We got to the end of the drive and the guide asked ‘Are you ready to gallop?’
We were both dead excited when he said that but the girl from the other couple didn’t want to, so as I turned my horse round she was left way behind along with everyone else as my horse obviously knew the ropes and took off. I screamed the whole way and held on to the saddle for dear life but it was AMAZING! I imagine it looked just like Black Beauty except she was white. Rob looked away in horror as he ate my dust, convinced I would die
very soon. Rob’s horse wasn’t as lively and didn’t really do what he told it too. It just followed the guide but he did get to gallop back and later shared how he couldn’t understand how horse riding was such a male dominated occupation as it really hurt his Gonads.
The guide then taught us how to Lasso. He took us over to a tree trunk which was about 5 foot high and had a bulls skull attached to the top. I was up first and he showed me the technique. We were allowed 3 goes and if we didn’t get it, we would have to run from the tree trunk to the door ( about 50 feet) without the guide lassoing you. So, I took the lasso and started to swing, chucked it and GOT THE BULL BY THE HORNS, first time!!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get it on the next 2 but I escaped the lasso run. Rob was up next and he missed all three goes (poor Rob, on his bday too) so he had to get ready, set, go. Check out the video at the top of the blog for the results. The other couple missed
as well, so I was the winner, YAY. After that we played a game were you had 6 gold discs, you threw them at this strange board type thing that had holes in it. Down the middle were three frogs lined up one behind the other and behind the last one, an Inca type face. The aim was to get the discs into their mouths and they would fall through into a drawer below which showed you the score. The guide won of course, but I came second. It was a good day for me! So that was the end of the day and we headed back down to Salta and back to the hostel. We decided to go out for a wee cocktail at a bar round the corner and have a snack too. My cocktail was basically pure alcohol, so I couldn’t drink it. Rob did his best with his Pina Colada and my Caprihana.
Next day we had to move hostel because I hadn’t booked any more nights in time at the one we were in. Shame as well, cause as it was owned by a guy from London, he provided eggs and bacon for breakfast.
This was a big pull for us at this hostel. So we had to move to another, cheaper place. We decided to go on the cable car ride in Salta (£9). It takes you to the top of one of the surrounding mountains and you get a great view of the valley. There was also a really nice waterfall feature up there but that was about it, so we headed back down fairly quickly. The clouds have cleared, so the weather for the last few day has been scorching and being in the gondola was like a mini greenhouse. As the day progressed, my body got soarer and soarer from the horse riding. By late afternoon I had almost completely seized up. I am pathetic. In this sorry state, I decided enough was enough with the crappy food. I mean, I know steak is luxurious and lovely but the rest of the time its bread bread bread! I craved veg and chicken (not in batter) so we spent too much money on lunch and had a lovely chicken breast and veg with a litre of freshly squeezed orange juice, yummy.
Our last day in Salta we got talking to
a couple at breakfast who were nearing the end of their trip. We talked for hours and got some good info including the fact that one of the museums we had walked past everyday in the main square had 3 Inca mummies. So we popped along there. First though we took out £300 from the ATM to change into Boliviano as apparently ATM’s in Bolivia are few and far between. So off to the bank we went to change it and were told no, you can only change American Dollars into Boliviano, why we don’t know. So we are carrying too much money now but we will hopefully be able to change it at the border. So off we went to the museum (£9). It was quite interesting but very small and they only show one of the mummies at a time. The mummies are of 3 children who were offerings to the gods. They were taken high up into the Andes and left there. There was a 7 year old boy, 15 year old girl and a 6 year old girl. The one on display was the 15 year old girl, she seemed to be the better preserved of
the 3. It was fascinating and spooky at the same time. I half expected her to wake up. No cameras were allowed so if you want to see what I saw have a look at this link
So now we wait for our bus at midnight. It will take 8 hours to get to the Argentine/Bolivia border. Not sure what the wifi situation is going to be for the next 3 or so weeks but we will be on when we can.
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