It has been over two months since I left and time is going both fast and slow. In Salta it stood still.
I don't like to wish away time so I needed to concentrate on filling up my days in Salta to make the most of my stay there and to distract myself from missing Melbourne.
There are three main day trips that are on offer in Salta. All three are about 12 hours and most of that time is spent sitting in a mini bus and about 400 kms are done for each trip. Because I had spent 20 hours on a bus from Mendoza and was going to bus 24 hours to Iguazu Falls the last thing I wanted to do was spend my days on my butt in a bus.
On my first full day I climbed up to Cerro San Bernado to get an incredible view of the city and mountains in the background. I took another route on the way back down and upon getting a little lost joined up with a local bus driver on his lunch break and jogged a few blocks with him until I found my way back to familiar ground. I was suprised at how much conversation we could have in spanish!
That evening was quiet, and I spent it in the hostel enjoying the Asado they put on. More meat. Heaven.
Leaving the souvenir shop after purchasing enough sweet Argentinian goods to last a lifetime, or five minutes in my case, I went back to the hostel and booked a full day of horse riding with a ranch called Sayta who had great reviews on Tripadvisor. Ironically Sayta means "where time stands still".
Gauchos are an inseperable part of the Argetinian culture. In art and literature the cowboys are used to represent the free spirit of the country. I was excited to spend a day on a ranch, experiencing this side of Argentina.
I was picked up at 9am and driven out to a small village called Chicoana which is about 40 minutes outside Salta. There were ten other tourists there when I arrived and a huge spread for breakfast! I was never able to get used to having dulce de leche, which is caramel, first thing in the morning. Although I did give it a good go that morning....
When going on organised horsetreks I'm always worried the horses aren't in good condition or that they are slow and boring. I told the gauchos I was experienced and to my delight I got the fastest horse! Bentika was her name and she was amazing. She didn't like not being at the front so it was not a dull ride! I also loved the fact that half an hour into the mornings ride we got to gallop! Riding western style was interesting as I was bumping along, trying to only have one hand on the reins! So much fun!
We didn't ride into the mountains as I would have liked but instead did two three hour rides around the local area passing through villages, riding down barren river beds and through coffee plantations. In between the two rides we were treated to the best feast I have had in Argentina! I was so excited too at all the veges! Not just meat! The host Enrique loved feeding us, and wouldn't take no for an answer as he walked around with rounds of steak. I am sure one guy went six rounds! I managed only two as was filling up on veges... There was also a lot of local wine which meant by the time we got back on the horses we were all a little sleepy.
I hadn't originally planned on heading to Salta, and after the day in Chicoana was so glad I did. Now all I can think about is going horse riding in Colombia! Melbourne can wait a little longer.
The world, especially the backpacker world in South America, is so small. I got asked by two kiwi girls on the trek if I had a sister who went to Otago University. Turns out they know my sister Deb!