Sunshine and steaks

Trip Start Sep 22, 2007
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Trip End Nov 10, 2007


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Friday, October 5, 2007

Travelling from Puerto Iguazu to Salta looks like a relatively short distance on the map, but it takes us more than 26 hours on the bus, with a one hour transfer in Tucaman to get here. Itīs not such a nice trip to make, but itīs actually not too bad and I feel better when I see there are other backpackers on the bus. Itīs a good time to make friends and we meet 2 Swiss girls that are also travelling to the same hostel as us.

Salta was founded in 1582 by the Spanish and was used as one of the main administrative centres for trading. The city now houses some splendid colonial buildings although since the 19th Century and the move of trade to Buenos Aires, many of the buildings are now in decay.  I expected a city similar to Sucre in Bolivia, but it actually much busier with heaps of cars on the roads and well-dressed business people walking around.  

On our 1st day, itīs a sunny and dry 38C. We check into Hostel Rejas, originally built in 1900, with its high ceilings, wooden floors, and dark wooden doors with matching furniture. Itīs too hot to do anything so we take a short siesta before walking around to the main plaza and visiting the Museum of High Altitude Archeology.  

The local population fiercly resisted the Jesuit missions and there is a rich indigenous heritage and culture. There are plenty of museums, but we limit ourselves to the beautiful Museo de Arqueologica de Alta Montana, situated in a restored colonial building. Inside, we discover more about the findings of an archaeological survey of 1999.

At the summit of Volcan Llullaillaco (6700m), three Inca children were found, almost perfectly preserved. It was over 500 years ago that these children climbed the mountains to be sacrificed by the Inca priests. This was thought to appease the Gods and to bring good harvests and safety of their population. The children were the most beautiful and were dressed with finely weaved shawls, together with gold brooches and ornaments. 

For me, the effects of a long bus journey are accumulating. The museum is similar to the museum in Arequipa that we visited during our last trip except that it is a little busier here and the bodies are preserved perfectly. I find it a little eerie seeing a preserved child displayed in the darkened room in a -18C glass windowed freezer. The hair, clothing and skin are in intact and I can clearly see the childs facial feautes with closed eyes, mouth and nose.

In the evening, the temperature drops and the town comes to life. As an avid Latin music lover, I want to visit one of the famous peņa to listen to some local singing, but we decide that we are both too tired. Besides it is about 9pm and as it has been so hot, we havenīt eaten anything decent all day.

We have dinner at El Solar de Convento, recommended in Footprints as one of Saltaīs finest restaurants. Our waiter is extremely professional and the prices are actually very reasonable. We settle down for a free glass of champagne before sampling "Tamales", a blend of maize and meat steamed in wrapped in sweetcorn leaves. Our main course is a delicious and succulent Bife de Lomo (Fillet steak). It is one of the best steaks I have eaten and it costs a mere 12 Pesos (2 GBP). We finish our meal off with a sweet cherry, ice cream and cream desert.    
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