Salta

Salta is an old, old town in the far north. It's full of cathedrals (next page) and colonial architecture (and slums on the east side). It's a lot bigger than I imagined, having known it from romantic Argentine folk songs. If you head East towards Uruguay, things get tropical. If you head West towards Bolivia, as we did, it's desert then Andes.

 

Our favorite coffee hangout. Gautam commented on the low assimilation barrier in Argentine society. Many people have non-Spanish last names. He particularly recalled a tall blonde second-generation German drinking yerba mate and ranting about preserving our (Argentine) traditions.

Gautam worked on a tribal alternative energy project in Mexico and spent several years there. Pelusa came and used her anthropological background (her pre-math career) to convince women to return to traditional plantings. She commented that the Mexican national identity is as hard-shelled as France's or Japan's. You have to be born there or you'll never be a Mexican.

Gautam no doubt appreciates Argentina after the Deep South treatment he got as an undergrad in England. People would cross the street to avoid him, move away from him on the bus, and he swears the first two things out of everyone's mouth was: "Where are you from? When are you leaving?" All this was outside London, where the most common name in the phone book is now Patel. He felt the warmth as soon as he arrived in the US--and that was New Jersey!

 

This guy is selling cards with saint pictures. Maria gave him her doggie bag from lunch. Several people circulated the plaza selling small items like sewing kits.

Gautam, by the way, divides world cultures into two classes: If your salary goes up, do you work more out of guilt or gratitude (USA), or less because you can afford to (Africa)?

 

Lunch - fried potatoes and chicken in garlic butter. Extreme fat, extreme good. While at lunch some guy wandered by with a t-shirt that I WANT: "No Ispek Englis".

 

Gautam stocks up on mangos before hitting the desert.

 

Street scene.

 

The Lady Without Eyes seemed pretty happy doing what she was doing. Maria prefers Latin cheer (everything will work out) to Eurodepression (I remember seeing a German documentary where they interviewed the unsuspecting tourist bureau in the town with the highest suicide rate in Germany) or the malaise of fear and anger that tinges the US.

 

An Evita hospital. Argentina is huge on public works, many of them courtesy of the Perons. Everywhere you go there's transportation, medical facilities and public housing. View from the cable car to the mountaintop nature center.

 

At the nature center: Spiders in the sky!

 

 

 

At the national parks bureau in Salta. Gautam inquired which parks were closed for impassible roads due to recent rains. Turns out he planned to disregard the answers--"You just drive as far as you can drive, until you hit a river or something."

 

Not Forgiven, Maggie. True, the invasion was the last gasp of a military dictatorship that needed a diversion. What's less widely known is that Britain invaded Argentina twice in the 1800s (before going on to start the War or 1812), so from the Argentine point of view, driving the British off the Falklands looked like a bit of unfinished business.

 

Pedal-driven scissor sharpener. Gautam saw this and said "Welcome to Argentina!"

 

Citroen 3CV - Considered the best choice for surviving a trip across the Sahara

Model A
Fiat 600

(Gautam: This and a similar Fiat 500 (yes that’s the cubic centimeter engine displacement!) were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Many owners lovingly maintain them in mint condition today.)

 

Band played tangos. The bass were really good, the winds so-so. Maria talks Gautam into dancing. Friendly street dog dashed off to bite another dog, then came back to cuddle.

 

The Cross and the Coke. I've never seen Coke promoted anywhere as heavily as in Argentina.

The Mozart of Coke.

 

To the Cathedrals