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Thieves, drunks, steaks and Salta

Written on: Wednesday November 26th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

The hot but beautiful town of Salta is brought to you by the letters M and E.    Malbec - their delicious red wine, and Empanadas (little mini pies that are filled with meat or vegetables).  Waistlines are expanding and chinlines are multiplying.


It's a lot more expensive than Bolivia - more like NZ prices, so we have downgraded our accommodations to hostel dorms sharing with 6-10 people.  Us mature travellers are careful to book our hostels ahead online, and stick with the hostels rated high on "friendly" and low on "fun" ("Fun" translates to under 25's getting drunk on casked wine, then shagging on the bunk below you - fun for them I guess).  We realised something went wrong with this strategy in Salta when the Police turned up at 3am to forcefully evict a rowdy Canadian guy who had drunk all day and was getting rowdy enough to have the hostel owners hiding out the back too scared to ask him to stop.

We hired a car to drive south to Cafayate for 3 days through some amazing rocky red desert landscapes, and visit some wineries.  Aiming to get an early start in the morning, we picked up our car the night before and were assured by our hostel owners that there was no need to use a parking building - an old fulla is paid to sit out and guard the cars.  Turns out he was feeling hard done by some previous hostel guests who didn't give him a tip, so he fell asleep instead of shooing away the dirty thieves who broke our lock and stole the spare tyre and jack.  Dirty south american thieving b*stards!  

We spent the morning getting a police report typed out, picking up a new car and starting again, trying not to regret our enthusiasm for an early start which doubled the cost of the rental car.    

Still - the best steak we have had was to be found on our road trip.  We walked the back streets (looking for budget eateries after our expensive night) and found a corner store set up as a footpath restaurant at night, with plastic tables and chairs set out in between a huge flaming BBQ and a TV.  It seemed a very popular place so we sat down and enjoyed a great BBQ dinner with salad and a beer for $8.  A close second to this steak was at a fancy restaurant in Salta where the waiter bought out a big steak to share and was able to cut it with TEASPOONS!

The first of many steaks while in Argentina.  Our livers may be on the way out, but we will not be iron deficient.