Saturday, July 9, 2011


I woke up from my bus ride in Resistencia still hung-over and very tired with a day to kill in a city I had low hopes for. After confirming my bus later in the afternoon and eventually finding luggage storage I caught a bus into the central city area. It was Sunday which meant everything was shut so my options for the day were pretty limited. I found a place which did coffee and Wi-Fi and chilled there for a few hours loading up on caffeine to get through the day. Then I went for a walk through the city, which was nice enough. In Resistencia there are statues absolutely everywhere so it took some time to take that in but after that I was done with the place and spent the rest of my day reading in the square.

Victory! Salta from the lookout.

I was pretty pleased to get onto the bus out and even more pleased when I woke up coming into Salta. I found the hostel with no difficulty and smashed back a breakfast (most hostels in Argentina do a free breakfast). Townie woke up and we went for a look around Salta, heading up the Gondola. The view of the city was pretty impressive but that was about all that was going on up there. On the way down we decided to make it a bit more exciting and go a bit bush. We got stuck when at the bottom we hit barbed wire fence – a manmade bluffing – and had a bit of a mission to get back out, but      made it okay.

A bit off the beaten path.
Salta central had a bit going on and we went for a look. The square was pretty tidy and a bit further along we ran into an orchestral band. After a look around the city, we went back to the hostel and organised ourselves for the next day.

At 3 we had arranged to join a bunch of Americans (say it with a Southern accent) and go bungy jumping. It took about an hour to drive out to the site. The jump wasn’t huge but big enough to get the heart going. As I’ve jumped before I went last out of the group and it was great to watch everyone freak out a bit. This was partly because the operation was a bit haphazard (probably wouldn’t get certified by OSH in NZ). There was only one rope (back home they have 3 thicknesses to use depending on the persons weight) which was attached to a metal structure that seemed to move around a lot more than it should. Everyone jumped successfully and then it was my turn. The jump was fine but I was surprised to go into the water up to mid-forearm. This was definitely not part of the plan, but at least it added a bit of excitement to it all.

Back at the hostel the Americans were gearing up for some 4th of July celebrations and us Kiwis were keen to get amongst. We hit the super vea for some supplies to run a monster grill. A round of “Edward 40-hands” was on the agenda (taping a 40-ounce of beer to each hand, like scrumpyhands) but a few kicked it up a notch and went for wine hands. This proved to be a regrettable decision as I got absolutely obliterated a bit before the meat was ready. I’m told I really enjoyed my steak though, which one of the girls was good enough to cut and feed to me as I had wine bottles taped to my hands.

I woke up the next day with fewer memories than I should have had and also much less hang over than I deserved (Argentinian wine is good). The day before I had arranged to go mountain biking with a NZ guy who was now based in Salta. I laxed back until 2pm when he met me at the hostel and we headed up towards San Bernardo hill. As we climbed up the road it quickly became apparent that I was going to tear the guy’s legs off. I was beginning to feel like the tour was going to br a bit disappointing.

Niner goodness. even with ugly frame protection.
We headed onto gravel road and traversed along the hill for a while before hitting a small section of easy singletrack. Then it was back onto gravel road. The guide didn’t really know his way around the hill so we decided to go uphill and have a look. I had a feeling that if there was any singletrack it would be that way and I wasn’t disappointed. It looks like Salta has a reasonable but small trail network, mostly focussed on downhill. The guide was completely ignorant to its existence, making him more of a pseudo-guide.

Packing crate huck. Tiiiiidy.
 We hit a track which looked good. My guide was on a slightly haggard bike and looked like he didn’t ride much so I was riding away from him. The trail was dry and loose, reasonably steep in some places but mostly at a pretty reasonable gradient. There were also a few natural rock gardens about, and some hucks. It had enough going on to keep me interested and satisfy my need for riding. At the bottom we found a racetrack which had carts racing on it. Heading along we found some xc type singletrack which eventually led to a junction of many trails ending. It looked like there were 4-5 trails exiting at the same point. I also got to see some of the tidiest woodwork I’ve had the benefit of witnessing.

We started to head back via the gravel road and I again dropped my guide. He was a bit out of his depth on this tour but he was an alright guy and to be fair I think he is more focussed on 4x4 tours. Back in town he showed me where the bike shop was and headed off. We took it fairly easy that night, heading out to a Shisha bar. It was great to just relax and talk smack.

We spent the next day looking around Salta with the Americans. We started off at the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology which contained a bunch of Incan relics discovered at the top of a nearby mountain. It was great to learn about Incan rituals – the society was amazingly well organised and interconnected for the time. We also got to see a couple of sacrifices which had been unearthed. It was a bit creepy looking at dead people but kind of interesting at the same time.

The Cathedral. Impressive.
From here we headed to the Cathedral for a quick look around. I felt a bit out of place in there as a non-religious person. The cathedral was incredible, a truly huge room decorated with many unbelievable statues and paintings and the such. It was a bit humbling if I am being honest. From here we went to look at the outside of a nunnery – you had to be a nun to go in.

We were pretty hungry at this stage but decided to push on to an artisan market a bit out of town, a mistake as it turned out. The market was miles away and we got on the wrong bus, resulting in a good walk. About half of us were mostly thinking with our stomachs so by the time we got there we were a bit phased about the markets. There was some well-made stuff there but it was pretty pricey.  We split up with half of us heading for home and a feed. We battled, as everything was closed for siesta and ended up at the super vea. I have never enjoyed a precooked chicken more.

That night we went large again with the Americans and our new English friend Jack. The copa America was on, Argentina versus Peru I think, and we had a big grill again to celebrate. Along with the grill we got into the drinking games, and I ended up fairly mowed. The game quickly became a bit irrelevant. We had a bus at 12.30 and I was sort of sad to have to leave to catch it as the Americans were pretty good value. On the plus side Jack had decided to come to Bolivia so he tagged along to try get a ticket. There were none available so he sussed out a ticket for 7am the next day. Townie and I got onto our bus successfully and we were off to the Argentinian/Bolivian border.

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