Salta, San Salvador de Jujuy and Purmamarca - big trip - diary - argentina - april 2003

Salta, the plaza

Cream of Argentina's customs officers

Click to see the rest of this wicked church

Friday 18 - Sunday 20 April

We arrived in Salta on Friday evening and parked up at the town campground which boasts the biggest swimming pool in Argentina. Pity there was no water in it. After a quick clean up we stood by the main road and waited for a cab into town. Very soon a normal car stopped with a passenger in the back and asked us if we wanted to go to the centre. Things turned out fine though as we arrived with no worries and only a peso worse off.

The nightlife is concentrated around a street called Balcarce and we gravitated to the fullest looking bar. As we waited for our beers we realised it was some kind of singles night and the heavy female presence was mainly of the haggard variety. Moving on we couldn't find anywhere particularly good so we called it quits after a long day.

Old house by the plaza

Making use of tall guys to pick oranges

Huge swimming pool takes a week to fill

Walking around the plaza all the shops were shut as is usual in Argentina on a Saturday afternoon and it was very tranquil (or 're tranqui') as they say. A couple of young dorises were asking for money but seemed happier with an orange each which B plucked from a nearby tree. Strolling past the big customs building, we got chatting to two very fat blokes about the usual peso devaluation and their subsequent drop in effective monthly salary from $1000 to $300. The people can still live as many things are devalued too (hence we are spending a lot of time here) but the previous ability to go on holiday abroad no longer exists. These guys abundant culinary knowledge led us to go and eat tasty Locro (a stew thing) in a nearby restaurant.

Party petrol station

Ctiroen's finest still going

We eventually left Salta after a few dead ends and arrived in Jujuy at dusk. As the only campsite was miles away, we followed our usual modus operandi and looked for a cheap hotel with parking so that we could go out on the town. One was found with a car park in a mechanics yard around the corner, and as is often the case, the landy just fitted under the entrance with millimetres to spare. Walking around the centre we couldn't find anywhere with a bit of life. Fortunately we happened upon three young dorises dressed up for a night out and they led us to a choice of a busy bar, or a petrol station with some tables and chairs in it. By the time we left the bar after being heavily used for English practise by drunk college girls (what a shame!) the petrol station was in full swing. We hopped into a cab to the most highly recommended nightspot, and found one of the best discos of the whole trip (again!) so had an excellent night.

Hill of 7 colours...

...behind Purmamarca


Getting hussled

Purmamarca plaza

Winding through desert valleys

With no reason to stay in Jujuy by day, we headed north into the Quebrada de Humahuaca. All of this region was populated by the Incas and so the people are more Peruvian or Bolivian looking and their customs and dress are more or less the same. Purmamarca is just off the road north and worth the detour to see the madly coloured rock which overlooks the village. We fancied empanadas for lunch but didn't reckon on them taking almost an hour to come, definitely in a different part of Argentina.

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