The bus journey to Salta was the only one so far that we’ve done during the day. It was pretty interesting to actually be able to see the countryside, and we were rewarded with giant cacti and even a little tornado that was sweeping through the dust.
We didn’t have anywhere to stay when we arrived, so we walked into town, looked at a few places and eventually decided upon Residencial Elena. It’s in a neocolonial building just a couple of blocks south of the plaza and is run by a really lovely Spanish family. Once we were settled in we headed up to the impressive Plaza 9 de Julio to locate the Museo de Arquelogía de Alta Montaña (MAAM) which houses the truly amazing mummified bodies of the Incan children found on Llullaillaco in 1999 (although only one is on display at any given time). Even though we had been told how incredible the mummies are (thanks Janna), nothing could have really prepared us for just how life-like they are. We also popped into the Catedral to try and take some photos, but it was filled with children, I’ve never actually seen a full church before, let alone a massive cathedral, it was quite an impressive sight! Back at the B&B that evening we met Laliv and Yossi in front of the fire who are travelling in the opposite direction to us. We ended up spending hours talking about travel, films and even a little bit of biology and ended up skipping dinner and going to bed late.
The next morning we met Laliv and Yossi for breakfast and spent another couple of hours chatting! Then we headed to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, but unfortunately it was closed for assembly of a new exhibition. That evening we went up to Pajcha – Museo de Arte Étnico Americano, a privately owned gallery north of the centre of town. We were greeted like long lost friends by the Deputy Director, Diego, who proceeded to give us a really fascinating guided tour. He is amazingly enthusiastic and very dramatic in his descriptions, especially when moving from one piece to the next… ‘Prepare your attention!! Especially you, Anthony!’ he would say as we moved from one to the other. ‘Alexandra! Try to see! Try to see the feather! Always the feather!’. At first we were trying to hide our mirth, but soon we realised that it made the whole experience so much more alive and interesting than usual. The gallery was founded by an anthropologist who has been collecting for practically her whole life and it really shows in the quality and quantity of the pieces. It is one of the best presented galleries that we’ve been to here which is pretty amazing considering it has no government funding. After our tour we sat in a café for an hour or so until it was a reasonable time to have dinner (9.45pm). We had steak and chips at La Leñita and ended up sitting next to the Puerto Rican basketball team! I really wish we had some photos, these guys were HUGE! Halfway through the meal one of the waiters grabbed a guitar and started singing folk songs to the guests, he was a great singer.
Friday we got up really late, did some yoga and exercises and went out for lunch. We were planning on booking a bus from Salta to Humuhuaca to see the quebrada, but we realised that we will see similar landscape once we cross over to Tupiza, so we booked a bus straight to La Quiaca which is on the Argentine side of the Bolivian border. We can’t book onwards from Villazón to Tupiza, so we’ll have to sort that out when we get there. Tickets safely in hand, we decided to take the teleférico (cable car… reassuringly made in Switzerland) up to the top of Cerra San Bernado to check out the view of Salta from on high. Luckily we chose a good day to go, it was pretty spectacular.
Today has been pretty uneventful, we have already seen most of what we wanted to in Salta, so we had a late breakfast and wandered back up to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, which has reopened. It’s a pretty small gallery, but has some interesting local art. Then we walked around the sunlit and pleasantly warm streets taking some photos and discovering little markets by plazas. This afternoon we sat in the Plaza 9 de Julio and watched what we think was some kind of pre celebration for tomorrow’s Dia del Niño. There was also a band playing and some strange races where waiters ran around the park carrying a tray with a bottle of beer half poured into a glass. We were pretty impressed that none of them actually let the bottle topple! We have a couple of hours left before we get on the bus at 12.45am!