Border closures and conflicting thoughts
July 28- We're in Salta Argentina. Been here a couple days now. Busy bustling city, but not overwhelming like Buenos Aires was. We went to the MAAM (museum of high mountain archeology) and saw the exhibits of 3 children that had been discovered in 1989, entombed and mummified, still in perfect form due to the high altitude and non exposure to the elements. The children had been sacrificed centuries ago and were entombed with many trinkets and toys. We saw the mummy of the 6 year old girl. It was an interesting moment. Very somber and reflective.
While at the museum, we ran into a couple from Denmark who were also travelling south America for 5 weeks and are outdoor instructors back home. They were traveling the same routes we are and were heading to Chile next. They told us the border into Chile was closed indefinitely and they weren't sure what they were doing since they couldn't cross the border now. We hadn't bought tickets north yet and decided to walk to the bus station the following day (today) and see for ourselves what the situation was.
We had a great dinner in the town plaza, superb steak, garlic chicken and beer. It was entertaining trying to translate the menu and we ended up with chicken fried rice as a side... There was a live band playing outside that nearly blew our eardrums out. We watched a demonstration walk by, yelling and waving their signs. There were local natives on the sidewalks selling a variety of alpaca clothing and trinkets. We unfortunately looked over just in time to see one of the young native boys (maybe 4 years old), drop his trousers and take a dump right in the plaza market square. That was gross. Nobody seemed to bat an eye or think anything of it though.
Someone here supplies local stray dogs with coats, so you see dogs everywhere running around, laying around, sniffing around, all wearing coats. It's kinda weird. People love the dogs here. They leave food out for them in front of their doorsteps and happily pet any dog that walks by. Lots of the dogs here appear to have mange and or lesions on their bodies. It's not something I'd want to pet!!
We had amazing Irish coffees at a coffee pub called Tazos. We will be returning there for another round before we leave Salta!
We walked into a Catholic church built in the 1600's. They were having mass. The priest was chanting and the acoustics were incredible! We'll post pics and video in the photo section. The architecture was truly awe inspiring.
The city buildings here are works of art. Everywhere you look there's something incredible to see.
We woke early and had breakfast, then walked a couple miles to the cable car that takes you up a mountain to overlook the valley. It's Nate's birthday today so we figured it'd be a fun way to celebrate. Up top we took pics, walked around, had submarinos (a popular warm milk drink with dark chocolate chunks added, making it a weak hot cocoa) and a bottle of Salta Negra beer, which we discovered was really tasty! Cable car ride back down the mountain and a walk over to the bus station, we discovered the Chilean border is truly closed indefinitely and they couldn't tell us why or when it would re-open. They said come back tomorrow and see.
So we left, with new information weighing on our minds. We walked thru the parks and the Saturday market, seeing stall after stall of the same stuff. It was interesting, but I don't know how anyone makes money there. Its literally the same items for the same prices in every stall.
We walked back thru town and saw a restaurant that had been highly recommended in the travel guide. The restaurant, Dona Salta, featured authentic Argentinean cuisine, served by waiters dressed in traditional gaucho garb. The food was amazing! We had a meat filled baked empanada that was fabulous, a tamale wrapped in corn husk, locra (soup with corn, pumpkin, potatoes, veal and bacon), a thick fire grilled steak, fresh salad and house wine. The meal was amazing and the atmosphere fun and entertaining.
We continued on to the hotel and crashed for siesta. We've decided siestas are awesome. We're incorporating them into our daily life when we return home. The town shuts down from noon to 4 pm and nothing really starts buzzing again until 9 pm.
So at 10 pm, we headed back out to see the night life. Nates birthday dinner was at Chicago Burg. A local restaurant trying to be an American burger joint. Food was good but not as good as lunch was!
We started discussing thoughts and plans over dinner. We both had a sense of unrest, and the feeling like we shouldn't continue north. We thought the activities up north would be alot of fun, but we are at the halfway point in our trip. With the border closure being indeterminate, we thought it best to revamp, and consider heading south.
Interior Argentina has so many things to do, which was on our loose itinerary for returning to Buenos Aires anyway. So we researched Cordoba, Rosario and several other small towns along the route back and got a sense of peace and excitement, versus the unsettling stress we were experiencing thinking about how to get north thru a closed border.
So, listening to that still small voice and going with our gut instincts to travel South instead of North, we will be headed to interior Argentina to explore more of this vast country! We are excited to head on to new adventures! We'll be in Salta until Monday. Then southbound it is!
Our plans to see Peru and Chile will be put on hold for another time, which is great, because due to our timeline and the vast amounts of time travelling from one place to another, we would just be rushing anyway. So we kick back into slow and relaxed mode, which in and of itself is a very peaceful thought. When we return someday, Peru will be done in one trip, focusing on the many activities there. Chile will be done in another trip, exploring north to south as there is so much to see and do there too! There's just too much to see and do in our limited time here!! We didn't realize the vastness of this continent! Each country deserves its own trip, that's for sure!!