After leaving the salt flats and bidding a final farewell to Bolivia, all it took was one horrifying bus ride over a rutty dirt highway, a freezing and rainy two-hour border crossing, a 1.5 km walk with all my belongings (no small feat at this point), several failed attempts to find coffee (it’s the goddamn morning, isn’t it??), two more bus rides (one of which broke down en route to Salta) and three new friends…aaaaand I arrived quite effortlessly in Salta, Argentina!
Luckily for me and said new friends, Salta is the kind of city where hostel employees wait patiently (vulture-like?) at the bus terminal to present arriving travelers with organized three-ring binders full of information in hopes of persuading them to hop in the pre-paid cab that will whisk them away to a good night’s rest. And quite frankly, I couldn’t have been happier to see them…I hadn’t expected to arrive so late at night and had no reservation, but within 20 minutes I had access to a much needed shower and a proper bed. Thanks, bus terminal vultures.
My arrival in Salta was one day prior to the start of a reservation I HAD made in the newest branch of Loki, a hostel chain popular throughout Perú and in La Paz, Bolivia. I’d stayed in two Lokis prior to this, the first in Máncora on the beaches of northern Perú and the second in Lima. Like many large hostel chains, certain perks come with staying in several branches (read: free stuff) so I figured I would give Loki “Salta” a go…in addition, the less-than-year-old hostel was still allowing guests to stay FOR FREE until July of this year.
The next day my new friends and I (a Brit and Paraguayan brother/sister pair) wandered around the adorable city, hitting the central plaza for a lovely and surprisingly affordable set menu lunch (5o Argentinian pesos, but at an exchange rate of 10-12 pesos/dollar on the ‘blue market,’ that’s right around $5 USD) , and the teleférico (cable car) up to the top of a hill for great city views and people watching in the late afternoon. I had confirmed an early evening arrival time with Loki so at the end of the day I parted ways with the others and made my way out to the hostel, a good 20-minute drive outside of the city center.
Out of sheer panic about my diminishing travel budget, I originally booked a 5-night stay at Loki, but pretty immediately upon arrival I knew I’d be checking out early.
I’d read some pretty scathing reviews of the place on the interwebs but tried to take them with a grain of salt; after all, it’s still fairly new and I was sure they were doing their best to attend to the problems people were complaining about, and some of the complaints just seemed ridiculous- clearly the people writing them had either A: done absolutely zero research about the hostel or B: really didn’t know how dire hostel situations actually COULD be based on the trivial things they were so angered by.
In any case, my open-minded approach didn’t get me very far; the hostel management was downright rude to me on arrival and on more than one occasion thereafter, and I was far from in the mood to partake in Loki’s oh-so-famous party scene…I couldn’t even redeem any free merch for being a loyal Loki customer in the past, not even one lousy can of beer. So, despite the ridiculously comfy beds (one thing they got right) and beautiful countryside setting, I paid my miniscule tab and checked out after 2 nights to head back to the city.
The rest of my stay in Salta has been exceedingly pleasant, apart from the blazing daytime temperatures. Other activites I’ve enjoyed so far include: hitting the artisanal (I’ve been using the Spanish spelling of that for ages now! Why didn’t anyone tell me!) market, eating a delicious, meat-filled dinner at one of Salta’s famous parrillas, watching my Seahawks DOMINATE in the Super Bowl with some of my favorite Aussies, a day trip to the wine region of Cafayate to taste their famous Torrontés wine, and reading Argentinian Cosmo to “improve my Spanish.” 😉
I never imagined spending nearly a week in Salta and had it not been for those two days at Loki I probably would’ve made moves to my next destination by now, but as always, I’m enjoying relaxed travel not restricted by dates and schedules and perfectly content with that. I’m right on track to see everything on my current Argentina wishlist before I fly out of the country on the 25th of February (ok so there is ONE thing scheduled, and yes, I’m actually making my way back to the States), and I’ll definitely drink to that.