From Buenos Aires I’ve made my way to Salta, which is in the northwest part of Argentina. Compared to Buenos Aires, Salta seems small. It sprawls a fair bit though and if you believe Wikipedia, the metro area has over a half million people. Wandering the central part of the city yesterday, I would not have guessed that. The central part of the city is not that many blocks to walk and there were plenty of people around and in the streets but nothing like Buenos Aires.
Technically I’m in the foothills of the Andes here. The altitude of the city is about 3800 feet. My reading had suggested that the rainy season would be over in April and I could expect pleasant weather. Well, we’ll see about that. It’s been mostly overcast since arriving yesterday and the same is true today. It’s not raining at the moment, though it sprinkled a bit yesterday and I’d say good chance for some rain today.
I’m staying at the Kkala Hotel. Click here if you want the English version. Beware, it plays music. Like the place I stayed in Buenos Aires, I found this place via TripAdvisor and what a gem it is. It doesn’t seem like a hotel. It’s in a residential neighborhood and the sign for it is barely noticeable. It looks like the homes in neighborhood – only nicer than most. I’d say it was maybe originally built as a home but then the rooms are very much like nice hotel rooms. Big bathroom/shower area. They refer to it as a ’boutique’ hotel and they’re a member in what is called the BBH or Best Boutique Hotel group. I noticed a plaque on the wall and found their website. Plush livin’.
The hotel sports a pool that would look more inviting if the weather were nicer and some great decks to hang out on. There’s one off the entry/living/lounge area and then one on the 2nd floor just outside the glassed-in breakfast area. I’ll try to get some pics and post them here. I was hanging out writing this with a nice cup of coffee on the 2nd floor deck just a bit ago but it started to sprinkle and the computer’s not too fond of that.
Walking through the city yesterday it’s not unlike Buenos Aires in the sense that much of the city seems to be enduring some amount of neglect. Whether it’s the economy over the years, I don’t know. It just seems like the cities have seen better times. With significant income inequality, I wonder if this is what America will look like in time.
There was a market going on along the main street yesterday. It stretched maybe 4 blocks. Lots and what appeared to be handmade goods like jewelery, wood bowls, clothes, artwork, and those sorts of things. Limited crowd of people on the streets. Not crowded by any means. The innkeeper today tells me this is only on Sundays. It’ll be business as usual down there today.
Logistics and Getting Here
Flying domestic within Argentina took me back to a pre-TSA era of security screening. No xray body scanning, no 3-1-1, no ‘take out your computer’, no ‘take off your shoes’. You put your bag through an xray and you walk through a metal detector. That’s it. The line was 20 minutes long but it was otherwise moving quickly. They just had too many people for only 3 metal detectors/bag scanners.
I flew LAN. Standard issue wide body 737. 3 rows each side. Cleaner than most US planes. They bussed us out to the plane in waves and we loaded on the tarmac – from both the front and rear doors. I think they have more flights than they have gates. No extra charge for luggage. No extra charge for the in flight snack – which was a nice little box that included a bag of water crackers, a bag of 3 chocolate wafer biscuit’y things, and something else chocolatey that I just tossed in my bag for later. The entire flight they seemed to have one TV channel playing on the overhead video. It was some kind of ‘candid camera’ type show. It seemed odd that was the one choice they would have picked.
The Salta airport is pretty small. The baggage area had 2 small conveyors that moved at a glacial pace and squealed like it could use some oil. At the 3rd unloading, my bag appeared. Yea!
The taxi ride in was an adventure. The driver had never heard of my hotel and did not know the street name. I showed him google maps on my iphone but he was having trouble with that. He spoke only Spanish. I speak only English… so he aimed it into the city. We went to the central part of the city and he pulled up to a small store and went in to ask directions. In all we stopped 4 times to consult with locals. The iphone and google maps is the only reason I got here. I was navigating from the back seat and we took several wrong turns. We even drove by the place once and completely missed it. Finally as we were shrugging our shoulders and creeping along at 1mph I noticed the Kkala sign on the wall of the building. It blends right in. Success!