Vagabonding Field Report: slowing down in Salta la linda, Argentina

Cost/day: £20

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Cerro San Bernardo, SaltaCowboys, everywhere – or gauchos as they are called here. It isn’t a daily occurrence, but every now and then a whole bunch will sweep into town and ride around, dressed up to the nines complete with fancy hats and tassels. They look spectacular.

Describe a typical day:

My boyfriend and I have been here for a month now, and we’re here mainly to get some work done (Steve is editing a feature documentary and I’m writing/making websites). We’ve rented an apartment looking onto the mountains and that’s our work base. Everything closes here from around 1-5pm. Even the surgeons go home to be with their families. It’s a beautifully relaxed pace of life. We go for walks around the pretty, cobbled town, shop in the local market, and sometimes go up the mountain to take in the sweeping views. Nighttime for us is quiet, although sometimes we might catch some live folklorico music at the local Casona de Molina.

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

We have been doing some volunteering with an organisation called CloudHead. One day we helped out on a project teaching media skills to teenagers from a poorer part of town. The kids were discussing things that were important to them and things they couldn’t understand about the world. Despite many of them being in their early teens, their sensitivity to their surroundings was wonderful. They were concerned about children who had no homes, and people throwing rubbish in nature. Most of all, they believed that they could help change these things. My favourite quote was from a 14-year-old girl who said “Together we can change everything, but first we have to start with ourselves. If we can’t change ourselves then we can’t do anything.”

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Steve and I have fallen in love with Salta. It’s nicknamed ‘Salta la Linda’ (Salta the pretty) and its obvious to see why. The white buildings with terracotta roofs on cobbled streets, combine with the surrounding mountains to make a charming and magnificent setting. As I mentioned before, the pace of life is mellow and the people are wonderfully friendly. It’s different to other cities we’ve been to in Argentina as its much closer to the Bolivian border and has a more obvious indigenous presence. In some ways, it reminds us of a much quieter version of Cusco in Peru. It isn’t touristy but it bustles with local activity. As for things we don’t like, that’s difficult. There’s not a lot of vegetarian food, but the empanadas more than make up for that!

Describe a challenge you faced:

Plaza 9 de Julio, SaltaWe’ve been a little in the wars since we got here. I had a throat infection and then Steve burnt himself quite badly on the sauna. Luckily we had our Red Cross first aid app, which came to the rescue! I wrote the app when working at the Red Cross last year so it was great to actually use it.

What new lesson did you learn?

Beware of wet, slippery floors in saunas!

Where next?

We’re here for another week and then heading to Cafayate for a few days before leaving Argentina and heading to San Pedro de Atacama. After that, we’re off to Bolivia and some incredibly cold temperatures!

You can follow our journey on our blog Bridges and Balloons.

Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Field Report: slowing down in Salta la linda, Argentina  | July 28, 2012
Category: South America, Vagabonding Field Reports, Volunteering Abroad

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