Salta, the largest city in NW Argentina, (pop 550000+) sits on the east side of the Andes Mountains at about 3900' msl. It is a very walkable city allowing us to visit the main sites by foot.
The first order of business was to purchase some Argentine pesos. We found an ATM and withdrew AR$1000 (cost us about US$209--effective exchange rate about 4.78:1). A few minutes later we ran into the couple from Taiwan whom we had met at the bus station in San Pedro the day before. They told us about the money changers in the main square and the cambio shop nearby; the exchange rate with them was 7.6+:1! We went to a very nice cambio place just off the square and got 7.6 pesos/dollar. We soon were in cash mode and and will be paying cash for everything during our time here in Argentina. If you do the math you can see what a great difference this "blue market" makes for someone with hard currency. The Argentine peso is weakening by the day and when we left Salta the rate was 7.8:1! The Argentine government is making it very hard for its citizens to obtain foreign currency and thus the "blue market"; good for us with dollars to change.
Argentina seems to be the repository for 70's era Peugeots, Renaults, and Ford Falcons! We had a Renault R4 in Algeria in the early 70s and enjoyed seeing them still running around today. There are a lot of small motorcycles in Argentina and I think about 50% of them have after market exhaust pipes installed. They all sound much bigger than they really are, but not annoying like many Harley Davidsons at home.
We visited several churches in the city and one small, but very impressive museum. The MAAM (Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montaña) has in is possession the mummified bodies of three Incan children left as sacrifices at the top of the Llullaillaco Volcano (7690' msl). The exhibit changes every six months and only one mummy is shown at a time. The displays are very well done and the background music adds to the mystic and solemnity of their fate.
About a block away from our hotel there were a couple of streets lined with outdoor eateries/bars/night clubs. We wandered down about 2100 to find a place and were usually some of the early diners!
|Iglesia San Francisco|
|General Arenales (with pigeons) in the main square|
|February 20th Monument|
|Hotel room dining|
|Patio de la Empanada|
|Patio de la Empanada|
|Papas de le crema con pimentón--yummy!|
|Gloster Meteor circa 1950|
|Music at the supermarket|
|Tiles in the cathedral floor|
|The floor really is flat!!|