Salta is named “Salta la linda”, Salta the beautiful.. While there are a few beautiful buildings, notably around the main square, the walk from the bus station to my hostel seriously left me wondering how it happened to come by that name. I’m still not sure I would call Salta la linda.. What is safe to say though is that the surrounding countryside is absolutely amazing. But more on this later. I arrived in Salta very early in the morning.. I had been sleeping on the bus and completely failed to notice that we had arrived until the bus driver came up to ask me to please leave his bus so that he could go sleep now.
After dropping of my luggage at the hostel I went in search for a coffee and found the central square.. It was already guessable that something was going to happen soon. So I stopped by the reception of my hostel to find out that the next day would be the biggest assembly of gauchos, the Argentinian cowboys, in the streets of Salta to honor General Guermes whose battalions of Gauchos played an important role in winning Argentinia’s war for independence. Some 4000 Gauchos were expected to parade through the street.
In the evening big fires where to be set up around the monument in his memory and the Gauchos would be spending the night there. Once again I had arrived in the right place just at the right time without planning for it. We went to see the silent watch of the Gauchos at the monument that evening and saw already plenty of horses, gauchos, but also cooking pots and general merriness.. It is a big get-together after all.
The next morning the Gauchos started parading past the monument at about 7am.. When I got up at 10am, they were still going strong.. It took until roughly 2pm for all the Gauchos to ride past the monument and honor their hero. It was an impressive sight to see (although it gets a bit repetitive after a while and there’s really no reason to stay there for 5 hours). Contrary to what we believed, after the parade everything was over. No more celebrations or activities. Nothing was left except an impressive amount of horse shit on the streets.
One thing that was definitely more pretty in Salta than elsewhere, were the clouds. They frequently appeared in rainbow-colors all over the city.
Another thing we discovered in Salta was that Argentinian cuisine actually has more to offer than steak and empanadas. In the North we finally discovered local dishes that actually included actual vegetables.. Not just potatoes. Even though we had more options to try now, we kept returning to the empanadas.. Salta has a few amazing empanada spots and even if we all swore we had had enough empanadas for a life time, when it came down to deciding where to have dinner, we religiously returned to la casa del oro, to have some more.. They were just that good.