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Salta the Gorgeous

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Following the overnight bus, the few days in Salta are a bit of down time before we head north to the Bolivian border and high altitude deserts. As a place, Salta is by far the most beautiful and relaxed so far. As a consequence, it is also the most touristy, occupying an important trade crossroads between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. The area is one of the most traditional and indigenous in Argentina, and for the most part, it feels one of the safest areas that we have been to.

view over salta from San Bernardo Hill

Salta also has the best food we have had to date with locro stews, excellent empanada’s, and the best white wine we have ever tasted from Cafayete. This combination means very long lunches with comatose afternoons in the sun in the park.
For a bit of fun we did take the funicular to the top of San Bernardo hill and were rewarded with more than we bargained for as we got caught up in a forest wildfire. There were police, firemen and camera crews everywhere as smoke billowed up the mountain and enveloped us at the top. The fire crews were obviously struggling to contain it, and from no-where a stunt pilot in a little “meccano” plane flew straight over us, dived within inches of the trees and dropped a full load of water on the fire. Well with that kind of excitement, we were going nowhere – fire or no fire. We waited whilst the plane went off to refill and watched a further 3 water drops before finally deciding to head back down into Salta; stinking like a campfire.

the plane onm the final approach and some typical views of Salta

sitting on the main sqaure as the "election bus" drives round

food was amazing, but they eat so late that ours rarely make it to pudding

Another highlight of Salta was the archeological museum. The main exhibition, is the famous child mummies that were exhumed from the top of a volcano at over 6000m. What I did not realise, was that the children were selected on their royal standing and beauty, they were then taken to the top of the volcano, and in a big ritual, given an alcoholic brew. This sent them to sleep in a drunken stupor, and whilst they were asleep, they were buried alive as a sacrifice. Well this freaked the kids out a bit, but the real cruncher (especially for Kai) was the darkened room where we were face to face with the fifteen year old girl that had been sacrificed. She was perfectly preserved and looked exactly like any other teenager sitting there cross legged with her hands in her lap, hair braids and necklaces hanging down and her cloak around her shoulders. Kai refused to let me take a picture and decided that enough was enough and that the park and swings were a far more appropriate way to spend an afternoon. It was very powerful, a bit traumatic but well worth seeing.

I was allowed to take a few pictures - just not the mummies

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