Getting back to Rio…San Pedro, Chile to Salta, Argentina

After arriving into Chile, I then had 7 days to make the 4,632km journey to get back to Rio de Janeiro. A very strict itinerary was created – next stop, crossing the border into Argentina.
Backpacking route San Pedro to Rio de Janeiro I walked through the tiny town of San Pedro to find the bus station, found an organic beauty shop, and booked the next day’s 9:30am bus to Salta. It didn’t look too far on the map, but I knew that it included an immigration stop and lots of mountains. It wasn’t too long before we arrived at immigration. First, we had to queue at window one to get stamped out, and then we queued at window two (right next to window one) to get stamped into Argentina. Simple.
Bus San Pedro to SaltaNext, we had to wait until everybody had been stamped, to then put our bags through the scanners and rejoin the bus which was waiting on the other side of the fence. The rest of the journey felt very long, travelling ever so slowly, up and down the winding, mountain roads.  I finally thought we had arrived when we stopped at a big terminal, to find we still had an hour and a half to go…
bus san pedro to saltaBy the time we arrived into Salta it was quite late, so I knew I had to go and buy my ticket to Buenos Aires for the next evening, and then get a taxi to my hotel. Luckily for me, the cash machine had no money, and there was no currency exchange. Hmm, how am I going to get to my hotel?
flowers saltaI managed to buy my bus ticket on card, and with no other option I went to explain the situation to a taxi driver waiting outside. He didnt seem to mind, and took me to two other cash machines on the way to the hotel. He then suggested we just get to the hotel, and they could pay him. With no better solution, we went to find the hotel. Walking through the doors, I spotted the Dutch couple who had been sitting in front of me on the bus! It turned out the hotel couldn’t fulfil their reservation, as they were fully booked, and as suspected, they didn’t know about mine either. Wonderful!
new friendsSo, still no money, a waiting taxi, and no hotel. But two new friends. The man running the hotel was really nice, and called another hotel around the corner to see if they had space. They did, but just the one room, which I said the Dutch couple should take as, 1. they arrived first, and 2. they didn’t speak enough Spanish to talk to the hotel man or their taxi driver. The phone rang again, and he told me the hotel was actually an apartment with two rooms. Didier and Carmen insisted I stay with them. So off I went, with my two new besties to a hotel run by a lovely lady around the corner. She paid our taxis, she let us stay the night before paying for the room, and she even loaned us 300 Argentian pesos to go and buy dinner. The man from the hotel then showed up, and insisted on driving us up the road to check another cash machine and to find a restaurant.
view of SaltaWe were exhausted, but as always, everything had worked out just fine. And we got free dessert. People are nice.
IMG_4628The next morning, the lady from the hotel drove us all around the city to find a cash machine. The problem seemed to be, that the Monday was a holiday, so they still hadn’t been refilled after the weekend. We drained one machine of all its money, paid our stay and took a taxi to Didier and Carmen’s new hotel and left our bags. We then went for a walk around the empty closed-for-a-holiday town, and of course, found the peak.
cable car saltaAfter Bolivia, 1454 metres to Cumbre del Cerro seemed like nothing – although I was still feeling a little wobbly from my altitude sickness. It was a lovely view, and some pretty water features, but not really worth 10EUR each.
IMG_4631Back down the peak, we continued wandering, and found the artisan market on our map – my favourite. And these two all dressed up with nowhere to go.
donkey and llamaI took a picture without asking, and the man in charge asked if he could as me a question… Turned out, he had a similar camera and was just wondering if I knew how to take multiple pictures quickly. We bought some last souvenirs and street cakes and jellies before going back to the hotel.
saltaThat evening we had a local fish for dinner, in a very touristy restaurant next to the square (as everywhere else was closed!) and I rushed off to get the overnight bus to Buenos Aires.
Argentina

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