A valentines day in Argentina

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
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Trip End Oct 01, 2015


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Flag of Argentina  , Salta Province,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And so began the most disorganised border crossing in the history of time!
We checked out and headed to the bus terminal half an hour before our bus was due to arrive. I say bus terminal in the loosest possible way- we were told to go to a car park on a road leading out of town, there were a few car parks along the road which resulted in people loitering in different places hoping it was the right one. 5 minutes before our bus was due a message was passed on through a couple of other travellers that the bus was running an hour and a half late. And so everyone settled on the dusty road and got comfortable (ish) for the next 1.5 hours which turned into 2. When the bus finally did arrive we drove about 2 minutes and then we all had to get off again as we were at the Chilean border and had to get our passports stamped, for some reason this then took an hour or so- the majority of that time was spent just outside the bus waiting for the driver to give us the ok to go to the border office. Once we were back on the bus it was about 2.5 hours drive across no mans land to the Argentinian border. On this border was about 3 other buses (1 of which had left the carpark an hour before us) the driver told us that it could take 1, 2 or 3 hours for this section as they only had two people working and needed to check the buses and everyone's bags! We eventually got through the border at around 6pm - 9 hours after we should of left and wed only covered about 2.5hours of the actual journey. As always happens when journeys get delayed people started getting really irate and generally acting like idiots, an American/English couple behind us were especially not happy as their plastic bag containing 1 mango and an avocado had been thrown out as your not allowed to carry fruit or veg across borders just like every other border crossing in the world. It was obvious who wore the trousers as the American lady ordered the English man to demand from the bus driver that he turns back and retrieves the 1 mango and 1 avocado from the bin in the migration office. Quietly the English man responded he didn't think that would be feasible but he did it anyway with his angry wife in tow!
Needless to say they didn't get there mango and avocado back and wouldn't buy anything from a nearby shop out of principle so they went hungry!
We finally arrived in salta in Argentina around 3am the following morning - only 7 hours later than scheduled.
We noticed pretty quickly that we were not going to be able to understand anything the Argentinians say, not only do they pronounce words slightly differently and speak incredibly fast they also use completely different words for things! It was back to square 1!
We woke up on valentines day and had breakfast at our hostel which gave us orange juice in plastic champagne glasses... Very romantic!
(this was served the same way the remainder of our stay so obviously wasn't intentional)
Then we headed into the city to explore, we got a map from the tourist information and headed towards the Teleferico - a cable car which goes up to a mirador overlooking the city. When we were nearly there we realised we'd left our wallet at the hostel and had to go back and pick it up before heading off on our way again!
The Teleferico was fun, you only had the group you were with in the cable car with you which was nice. We boarded our little car and headed up high over the city to the mirador. We imagined there would just be a look out but there were gardens, waterfalls and even an outdoor gym up there!
After we got back down, inspired by the mini waterfalls we headed off to the bus station to try and book the next part of our trip- a bus to iguazu falls. We were shocked to find that the cost of the bus was going to be over £150 for the both of us, someone had told us that flights are sometimes cheaper so we headed to the flight office to check. They werent and whilst we were in there we met someone else how said the bus journey could take over 36 hours, then we would have to get from there to buenos aires, another 28 hours- we had some thinking to do.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and even bumped into Jim Carey as the mask!
That night we cooked dinner at the hostel and had our first bottle of Argentinian malbec, we talked at length about the next few weeks and made the hard decision to change our flights and head to new Zealand earlier- we are leaving south America on the 24th February!
The following day we checked out and headed to the bus station to book our bus to buenos aires, we stopped quickly in the airline office to check the flight costs, realised they were too much and carried onto the bus station only to find the cost of the bus was over 100 pounds each - the same as the flight. The flight was leaving in a few hours so we raced back to book a flight - tai was especially happy at the thought of a 2 hour plane ride compared to a 20 hour bus journey. We made it to the office and went straight to the computers to book, we'd almost made it to the payment page when a member of staff came over and pointed out that the price we were looking at was for Argentinians only and the uk price was double that- racism!
So a 20 hour bus journey it is! We had to get some money out and on the way went into a tour agency -which was just a table in the corridor of a disused building - and parted with a hundred pounds for both of us (half the price of the bus station) for a bus that was leaving the following day (that days buses were full) .
A confused couple of hours then followed- was the agency real, was the bus company real, were we going to get robbed on a fake bus, had we just been robbed? We cancelled the bus and then re booked it again before heading back to the hostel - checking in again and then had to lay down after the stressful day!! We'd made our decision and was sticking to it, with the prospect of being stuck in salta forever we decided to make the most of it and headed out for a glass of wine- which turned into 2 bottles! We also decided that we should try some of the local Argentinian steak- we must of picked the only restaurant in Argentina that doesn't know how to cook steak as what came out was a chewy tough piece of meat that had been beaten and cooked to within an inch of its life, tai ate 2 dinners that night as I didn't like mine. Non the less it was a great night - wed made another big decision tonight that seeing as Argentina seems to be pretty pricey and we only have a week left here we are going to put the price of things to one side and make the most of our final few days!
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