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Loving Argentina…

I don’t know if many of you have heard, but Argentina is going through some hard times. Their dollar has lost close to three times it’s value in less than a year and things are very, very cheap. What does that mean for the traveler? It means that things are…very, very cheap. Our guidebooks all say things are like 9 and 10 bucks, but nowadays, we get to divide it by three. That means an incredible steak dinner is 3-4 bucks. That means a pretty nice hostel room is 2-3 bucks. That means that a nice and cold Argentinian beer is less than 30 cents (for a huge bottle). It’s strange too. Salta, at least, seems like quite a modern town, with very little poverty, no kids begging on the streets, no shoe shine boys everywhere you turn and very modern facilities (we went and saw a movie last night at the theater and were disoriented as we walked out because we thought we were all back home). It’s only a matter of time before the dollar climbs back up here and I’m lucky I get to take advantage of this before such a thing happens. There seems to be no crime here and things are really laid back – and the people are so friendly! If you’re lost, they walk you around to show you where to go – and the guys even kiss each other on the cheeks (really weird). Some buddies and I took the city tour yesterday and I really really like it here in Salta. It’s a shame I leave on a flight to Cordoba in less that 20 minutes, but I’m sure I’ll love it there just as much.

But how did I get here? As I said in my last post, after about 5 hours of sitting in a train car packed with so many people to the point that I wanted to vomit after thrusting my head through the solid glass window so I could breath, I switched to the first class part of the train and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the trip. The rolling Bolivian country side was very relaxing and the movie (yeah, there was a movie!) was really cool as well. When we arrived to the border, a few other travelers and I made it across to Argentina without much of a problem and followed a tout to the bus station to catch a bus here, to Salta. The ensuing bus ride was over 12 hours and after a 12 hour train ride, it was a marathon of endurance to keep from going crazy. We were stopped several times to have all of our bags searched by the Argentinian Border Officials (looking for drugs and stuff), but they always just passed me along and never bothered me – although for nearly everyone else, they took everything out of their bags and even scratched the book pages to make sure they weren’t made of coke.

When we got to Salta at 2AM, much to my surprise, I found Oliver and Laura (from the Uyuni trip – they were in the group I wanted to be in) who had just come from the Chilean side of the border and were looking for a room as well. We all took a little bus of a hostel to a really nice hostel then hung out at the bar (yeah, the hostel has it’s own bar) before going to sleep.

Since then, we have been hanging out and enjoying Salta, eating some incredible food, and just enjoying ourselves. We bought our plane tickets out of here already though, as they are continuing on to Mendoza for Christmas, and I am going to Cordoba to meet up with my friend Erika.

With me luck!