Salta, Argentina is in the Andean northwest of the country, and for us almost felt like a swing back to Bolivia. Sure, there was still the Argentine gnocchi and the steak and the sifón everywhere (we loved the sifón - fizzy water at your fingertips!)
but there was also coca, and people chomped down on HUGE cheeksful. Women dressed in bright indigenous colors walked the pedestrianized shopping boulevards with babies blanket-strapped to their backs. And late one night, we stumbled onto a festival complete with people in wide-ranging costumes dancing to cacophonous music blasting from speakers in a blocks-long game of oneupmanship.
In Salta, you can also visit the small yet fascinating archaeological museum, MAAM, which hosts a rotating display of three different child mummies, sacrificed by the Inca and entombed atop icy Llullaillaco peak. The children (and their grave goods) are immaculately preserved, and seeing them is wrenching. When we were there, "The Boy" was on display; he's very young, and you almost feel that you can reach out and pinch his chubby little kid-elbows, still dimpled with baby fat. Pictures are not allowed, and would feel kind of disrespectful anyway.
The child mummy couldn't have been much older than the children we saw dancing in the parade.
Just look at that face,
In fact, children were everywhere in Salta, and the town in this era would be a very friendly place to travel with young 'uns. There were cute ponies to pose and play with,
a lagoon with paddle-boats, and a cable car ride that sweeps you to the top of cerro San Bernardo.
The cuisine is child-accessible as well, with meaty soups (locro, a specialty of this area, is hearty, thickened with beans and potatoes and sometimes sweetened with peaches)
the submarino, which is simply a chocolate bar lazily melting in a glass of warm milk,
and giant hot dogs. This one was on the Rococo end of the pancho spectrum, with fontina cheese, chips, celery aioli, corn, green olives, tomatoes, and onions. They aren't always this elaborate!
Adults shouldn't miss a trip to nearby Cafayate. The amazing Quebrada de las Conchas provides arresting scenery on your way out of Salta; the geological upheaval around here produced otherworldly striations of color and texture.
And the region grows wine! Lots of wine, at some of the highest vineyards in the world. The torrontes is wonderful, and we'll have to seek out more when we get home. Unfortunately, with only a day to give for a Cafayate trip, we were in a rush and didn't get to see many vineyards.
Next up: Iguazú Falls!
(and in current news, we're in freaking JOHANNESBURG! Hoping to get the next four or five posts done and in the chute before we leave for Tanzania on Tuesday. Hello spicy Zanzibar!)