Salta is in northern Argentina and it is noticeable that the people here look different. The populous of S.America that we have seen so far has had a strong european influence about it which given the level of colonisation is not surprising. However in Salta you start to notice a higher number of people with more indigenous features which gives the place a different feel, definitely less western. We read that this is party due to the fact that when the europeans invaded the continent some of the people migrated north to escape.
One of the ‘things to do’ from the guide book is a cable car ride up a mountain to get a broad view of the city and surrounding area and then hire a mountain bike for the ride down. This is something that we put on our agenda for the day plus some general walking round, shopping and museums.
We walk to the cable car through the park (which has free Wifi – something that would be good to see more in the UK) and see two police officers tell two teenagers to stop snogging on a bench. Seems a little harsh but you don’t argue with people with guns I suppose. When we arrive it is not running and ask if will be later we are told “It might be. It might not”. Helpful.
The central plaza of Salta is a beautiful open space with trees and benches surrounded by beautiful colonial architecture. A pleasant place to sit and watch the word from a cafe and use the wifi before we head to our first museum of the day – MAAM, the museum of high altitude archeology.
A slightly strange place whose main exhibit is a display of mummified children found in an Inca sight 6800m above sea level! There are 3 children, but only one is displayed at a time on a rotation. The children would have been married to help join Inca tribes before being made to drink alcohol until they pass out and then buried alive (or maybe killed) as a sacrifice to the gods. The children were almost perfectly preserved because of the extremely high altitude. Creepy.
We check the cable car. Still not running so grab some lunch.
After lunch we are aware once again of the siesta problem. The town shuts down between 1:30 and 5:00 so we try the second museum of the day, a contemporary art museum with an entrance fee of 20p, but it is closed. So we move onto the next, the historical museum of the north which is housed in a very impressive 2 storey colonial building (apparently the best preserved government building in all of Argentina). The contents of the museum lack a theme and structure other than ‘old stuff’, but there are some interesting exhibits. We liked the old money, the giant old car, and what we think was a moustache collection!
Outside we once more look to the hill. Still no movement on the cable car front.
Time in the plaza in a cafe with wifi allows for us to catch up with the world and appreciate the Catedral de Salta. The people here seem to be very religious as the plaza fills with more and more people before mass starts and it creates a lovely lively atmosphere as the light fades. It is well attended and we can see long queues for the 8 confessional booths (must be a sinful lot) before we leave to hear the chimes of the bells. Well I say bell chimes, it bizarrely sounds more like an ice-cream van.
One last look at the hill indicates that the cable car is still not running and therefore as it is scheduled to close in 20 minutes we are not going to chance to ride.
Watching the world go buy as the sky becomes dark and the lights come on (including some small subtle Christmas decorations) we see a number of well attended noisy protests that circle the square (for or about what we cannot work out), a lovely group of old argentinians having dinner and singing a song, and a man who tries to persuade me a shoe shine in Birkenstocks is a good idea!
After eating a substantial amount of meat we use a Lonely Planet / Trip Advisor recommendation and have a vegetarian meal for dinner and post our latest batch of post cards to our family (which we couldn’t do from the main post office, instead we were directed to a shop that resembled a tool shed).
Our bus out of Salta leaves at 1am (seemed like a good idea when we booked it) so we return to the accommodation to collect our bags and wait in the lobby for an hour or so using the wifi before getting a taxi. The 2 late night porters are very kind and allow us to use the facilitates to get showered and changed before our late night journey.