11/21: Arrived early to DFW.
11/22: In Buenos Aires. My compass seems to work fine here. Changed $100 at the airport, bad xchg rate.
They have HSBC here, I should see how much local money I need and get it from the ATM.
Cheated by the cabbie. I hope this isn't going to be a theme.
Walked over to the obelisk and to Congress, but both were closed as it was Saturday. It's warm and sunny. The Centro is compact and the blocks short, so you get around quickly walking, but still build up a sweat instantly. The cars are dirty. Need a clean-air movement (ironic what with the name of the city).
Went over to the Casa Rosada. There were youths skateboarding off the steps of the Central Bank (closed on Sat.). Local time is PT+6hrs.
11/24: Arrived in Salta after very long bus ride. Geography near here is much more interesting than the plains. I wonder if the water here is good to drink. I'm guessing yes, but when I went to check the S.A. on a Shoestring guide, it was missing. Did I leave it in B.A.? (I'm not liking this tour's habit of sharing rooms. Especially considering how much I paid them.) I feel bad about losing the book, a gift from Sara. [I found it later — turned out it had just shifted in the luggage over the bus trip.] On ride here, as leaving B.A., saw several derelict ships, decaying in their moors. One was only a metal hull left, gradually rusting away. Today is a “free day” until dinner at 8pm (local time is only PT+5), so I'll shower and change and walk around, maybe buy some souvenirs for people. Tomorrow we get out to nature I hope, then I can get some photos.
It is hot here. After 2hr walking around the promenade, I'm ready for siesta. After a while, I'll photograph the nearby cathedral and look for some postcards to send out.
Couldn't find any postcards. Went up the funicular, nice place, but spoiled by tons of children running around.
Yesterday in B.A. I walked one side of the bird sanctuary. It was dry, supposed to be marshy. The air was better, I think due to less people driving around on Sunday. Here in Salta today the city center was filled with people. But they mostly seemed to be walking from place to place. Is that how you get a vibrant city, have ped traffic instead of auto?
The city is larger than I thought, from the mountain I could see the development spreading over the plains below and around to the other side of the mountain. There's a lot of drink & ice cream places here, not so many traditional restaurants. They're used to dealing with the heat!
Prices are below reasonable here, versus above reasonable in B.A.
11/26: Siesta in Salta. Have HSBC here, means I don't have to worry about money. I don't like being bound by the tour schedule. So far been healthy, allergies even acting up less than in SoCal. (But then, SoCal was on fire.) Still no hiking. May get a group to go to San Lorenzo in the afternoon. (Some went in the morning.) Yesterday saw some impressive salt flats. “Polygonal ground.” Before I forget, saw a large iguana crossing the path at the bird sanctuary back in B.A. Got postcards yesterday, mailed them this morning.
12/2: Just arrived in Menzoda after a night bus, not nearly as comfy as the B.A. → Salta one. The trip from Salta → Cafayate was on a regular bus (in the day), but yesterday's regional tour around the Salta area was very picturesque, but unfortunately on very cramped vans, no legroom. We should have stopped over in Jujuy.
At Cafayate I rented a bike and hit all of their trails. (Weren't that many.) Most of the roads are dirt & rocks. On day 2, got caught out in the hail, unpleasant. Did laundry. On to Tucumán: on the way there, the van is impounded, then the replacement van, finally we get a van with proper registration. Get to drive through rainforest, which is nice, and the van has legroom too.
12/2 cont.: We didn't get to spend long at all in Tucumán, which is a shame as it looks like a great city. Arrive @ 9pm, leave at 8am. Saw the Casa Historica, but didn't see it, IYKWIM. On to Chilecito via La Rioja. La Rioja seems like a better place to hang out than Chilecito. Couldn't find any bikes to rent in Chilecito, go trekking for several klicks instead, my feet hurt. Got caught in heavy rain and soaked. Spent the late afternoon in the hotel lobby. The “optional” being hard-sold is a Nat'l Park tour — as there's nothing else to do — which costs from 150 pesos on up.
12/2 cont.: Then took a night bus to Mendoza, much less comfy than the B.A. → Salta bus, and that brings us up to “now”. Going on a city tour at ~2pm (35 pesos) and tomorrow a 7-7 Andes tour (100 pesos). Was broke, so refilled my wallet at a local ATM. Checked out some squares: Plaza España is best, next is San Martín; Independencia is large but uninspired; Chile is closed for construction.
Checking my flight home — leaves at 11:45pm, Sat. Dec. 6 — just before midnight. Somehow I missed that detail. Well, gives me an extra “day” in B.A.
12/4: Keep on burning through money. Got another 300 pesos from HSBC and have 80 or 70 left. Did the Las Montanas Altas tour (130 pesos with lunch) which went up to the Chile border and included the very impressive Bridge of the Incas. We didn't get to see the big mountain because of the clouds though. (Next day (today) was clear.) Lunch was different: filling trucker fare. Light dinner. Today did two wineries & an olive orchard. Bought a jar of olives for my sister and some packets of cookies for people at work. Currently riding back to B.A. on a very luxurious bus. Seriously, the seats here go all the way back to level flat! I can't wait to see what they serve here for dinner.
12/6: Final day in Argentina. Yesterday went to the Presidential Museum at the Casa Rosada. (They weren't offering tours, alas.) Then did the outside path of the Ecological Reserve, along the Rio Plata. Okay beach on the Rio, but the breeze was very welcome. Had a chorizpan for lunch — great for $1 street food. For dinner went back to the Puerto, the long way — again the portion sizes are immense, except for on drinks (and the food is salty!). Today I trekked up to Parque San Martín to see the copy of Big Ben, but you can't go up it, sadly. Returned along the Florida Promenade, then during siesta walked along Lavalle. Feet are very tired. Resting at hotel.