Salta (12/13-12/18)

We made it from Iguazú to Salta with no issues at all. It’s weird to think that on December 13th when we landed Salta felt so much like home to me and now it seems like a distant memory. We made it to my apartment which was still in good shape thanks to my friend Matías who kept an eye on it while I was gone! After throwing in some laundry and relaxing it was time to show my mom Salta! It’s weird to show someone a place you’ve been living for almost a year, because everything is so familiar to you and so distant to them. Anyways, we checked out the plaza, ran some errands and then headed to dinner at Café del Tiempo, one of my favorite spots in Salta. I had made a Salta itinerary so I was able to revisit all of my favorite places (or at least that was the plan…).

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Pedestrian streets near the plaza

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Cabildo in the plaza

The next morning we headed up to La Quebrada de Humahuaca which I had visited 4 times before and blogged about a ton. We had horrible weather – it was super gloomy and ominous which makes the Quebrada towns not nearly as cute as they usually are. But we still had a good time!

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Gloomy weather in Tilcara

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We did meet a lot of stray pups

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Salt flats will never get old

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Terrifying drive on a mountain road with this much fog behind a semi truck – coming back from the salt flats

The next night (Sunday night) we were back in Salta and ordered pizza and watched the Packers game on my laptop – felt just like a Sunday at home! Monday and Tuesday I had lots of errands to run, lots of loose ends to tie up, and friends and Rotarians to say goodbye to!

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Last time I will ever be seeing my “Facultad” at my university

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This is the university exam schedule… hahahaha

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From the top of the hill overlooking Salta

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The central market where I always bought my produce

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A typical intersection in Salta… no stop signs or red lights anywhere. Just go.

My last few days in Argentina also meant a final trip to the grocery store and eating at all my favorite restaurants!

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The aisle at the grocery store dedicated to “mate,” a looseleaf Argentine tea consumed my 98% of the population…. so many varieties

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Lots of different brands of dulce de leche!

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Aniceto, my favorite breakfast spot

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Lunch at Santa Gula with a fresh pitcher of lemonade

So, as I mentioned above, I had my last days planned down to the minute really. Our flight from Salta to Buenos Aires was scheduled on Wednesday, December 18th at around 1 PM. On Monday night, I took my mom to Balderrama, one of the most famous folk music peñas in Salta. It has been around forever and is a must-see in the city for most tourists and those who want a look at folklore culture. We got there about a half hour before the show was set to start, ordered dinner… and were the only ones there. We ate and I finally asked the waiter about the show. “Oh, no show tonight, you’re the only people here.” “Oh. So just… no show?” “No.” “Well this is my second to last night in Argentina and I really wanted to show this to my mom.” “Oh.” GREAT. Epic failure.

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At Balderamma… total disappointment

We left the restaurant and I immediately started to feel sick. I sucked it up because I had plans with my two best friends, Matías and Camila, to make s’mores. They have no idea what s’mores are because there are neither marshmallows nor graham crackers in Argentina, so my mom brought the ingredients all the way from the USA! Thanks mom!

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The s’more making was very successful, but I felt awful all night. The next day (Tuesday, my last full day in Argentina) my mom and I had plans to spend more time exploring Salta and that night was my going away party at my favorite restaurant in Salta, la Casona, which I’ve blogged about before. However, around 1 PM I started to feel really really hot even though it was only 75 degrees out with a light breeze. We went to lunch and I wasn’t hungry but ate a little bit and felt nauseous and dizzy and hot the entire time. We got back to my apartment, I laid down and immediately knew… I had food poisoning. The same place that screwed us out of a folklore show also gave me food poisoning. Great.

So rather than spending my last afternoon wandering the streets of the town I’d called home for the last year and spending my last night surrounded my friends and live folklore music, I spent it in my bathroom (I’ll spare you the details). My mom was great about the whole thing, even though I could see that she was disappointed she never got to experience a huge part of Salta culture and something that had become super important to me over the past 11 months. I sent sad text messages and emails to everyone I had invited and realized I would not be seeing any of them before leaving for the USA because I just couldn’t physically leave my apartment.

The next morning I actually felt better, went to pay my final cell phone bill, run some final errands, and move our BAJILLION suitcases down to my apartment building entrance. My friend Matías came over to say a final goodbye, I gave him my extra key so he could go in and take a lot of the stuff I had bought during the year (an iron, toaster oven, etc.), and we got into the taxi.

Salta, I love you. You were the cause of extreme frustration and confusion. You make waiting in line for 30 minutes look easy. One of your master’s programs is basically awful and unfortunately that’s the one I chose. You have great public transportation. Your inflation is really scary and makes me worry about the future. Your people are kind and always willing to help. I will miss your little kioskos, your insanely dangerous traffic, your beautiful plaza, your amazing empanadas, your enchanting folklore. I will miss your long nights that don’t even begin until 2 AM. I will miss the Spanish classes with Pato. I will miss drinking mate every day. I will miss spending time with my Argentine friends, speaking a crazy mix of Spanish and English. I will miss the crazy gringo friend group that somehow found each other in a city of 600,000. I will miss you Salta. I will miss you.

I know I will be back someday. I don’t know when. Maybe Fulbright will work out. Maybe it won’t. But I know that I have eleven months worth of amazing memories. I’ve become a much stronger, more patient, more reflective person. I’ve become more fluent in Spanish. I’ve returned with a huge wealth of new cultural experiences and resources that will make me a better teacher as I take on Spanish 1 and 4 at Hamilton this spring.

This New Year’s Day, I am thankful for an amazing, incredible experience in Salta, Rotary. Thank you for an unmatchable year. Adiós, 2013. Te espero, 2014.

I leave you with a piece of Argentine music: La llave, by Abel Pintos.

Salta, la distancia y el tiempo no saben la falta que le haces a mi corazón. 

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