Where are we?


We got up and left out parking site by 8:30, want to drop off the laundry as soon as we can so we can have it back today.  We find the laundry and can pick it up at 4pm - great!  2 baskets full = 700AP ($15)  about average.  Then we go to the mall to get some free wifi and have a coffee :)

Parking is easy at the mall since we are here so early.  We have coffee and a latte and what are called media lunas - little sticky croissants- or half moons. Guess this is a typical breakfast item here or at least with coffee. Plus just like in Europe we get a glass of sparkling water! All this for 280AP ($5)

We get caught up with our wifi stuff, I work on my blog and then go the Claro to get fixed up with internet. Seems I just got a SIM card, no internet. So bought 3GB 300AP ($6) cheap :)  I was lucky that I found a guy that could speak some English so it made what I needed go faster :)  Now it was lunchtime so before we buy groceries we'll have lunch back in the food court. Dwayne gets his burger and fries and I order a personal cheese pizza with onions - it has some fancy name but can't think of it right now.

We then go for groceries at the Carrfour, which is actually a French chain. We use to go to it when travelling in Europe and Morocco. Cool, we'll see what they have different here.  The selection is good, lots of different cheeses and meats. I'm buying some beef for the first time since it's suppose to be much better here in Argentina then the previous countries :)  Also get more wine, $1.50 again for a litre box plus I splurged on a 750ml bottle of wine $2 LOL!! All rosé wines. Dwayne found a few cans of Miller beer :)

What???? $2067 and all we get is.... 

2 bags?!?! LOL!! Actually $45C
Since we had a couple of hours before picking up the laundry we decide to take the gondola up to Cerro San Bernard for a view of the city. The short ride is pretty expensive at 500AP each ($11) and had I brought some ID I could have got a ticket for on 330AP ($7) There is a bit of discrimination here because women can get reduced ticket if 60 or older but men have to be 65 or older!

The ride up is pretty hot. But once we get to the top there are lots of trees to walk under to stay in the shade. Also lots of waterfalls to cool things off. Once we've walked around for a bit we head to the restaurant to enjoy a nice cold Miller beer :)  We go back down and then walk thru another park and watch people paddling around a big pond.  Nice water fountain to spray everyone as they get near it.

Love all the different waterfalls here!

We'll be travelling along the west side of those mountains to go further south

Downtown Salta

Beautiful flowers on this huge tree

Ahhhh! Miller Time!

Park at the beginning of the gondola ride
Then it was time to pick up the laundry. Once we pick the 2 bags of folded laundry we try and find a Parrilla restaurant to have some barbecue meat. But can't find anything open other then some places downtown which  of course has no parking.  As we are driving around we stop at some ATMs to take out money. It seems there is only one type of machine we can use in each of the banks I went into. The other machines are only for bank clients. The one I have to use charges us $10.50US!! Luckily we don't get charged by our bank back in Edmonton!  Tried 3 different banks and they all had the same machine for non-members.  Since we can't seem to find a restaurant we can get close to for parking we head back to the mall and check out the barbecue place in the food court. Since at this point I don't want to make supper 😝 Rather have someone else cook tonight.  Once we get there I have pork chops and Dwayne has beef with a nice mushroom sauce over top, not sure why I did't pick the same thing! Both are tasty but my pork chop was a little dry,  costs us 780AP ($17)

As we are leaving the mall parking lot to head back to the river site, the French couple we had seen a couple of days ago came up to us and asked where we were staying, because they checked out the municipal campground and weren't impressed. So I showed them on maps.me the spot near the river about 15km back on the highway.  We told them it was very quiet last night. Great - they also have had enough of barking dogs LOL!!

As we are making up the bed the French couple - Olivier and Agñes drove by and parked a little over from us.  Olivier came over to see our van.  Then we decided it was a good time for beer and wine. So we end up at their van drinking and talking and trying out the goat cheese they bought along the highway that day. By the time we to go back to Vanna is was already 10pm!!

Our morning started early when a truck parked near us was loaded with gravel at 5AM!! Then he was back within the hour and loaded up again, this continued until around 9. Oh well we did get to sleep a little between loads LOL!!!

It's raining out so we laze around since no use going into Salta to walk around until the rain stops.  Olivier and Agñes leave around 8:30, they stop by to say goodbye.  A couple hours later it has stopped raining so we head into the centre of Salta.

Parking of course is difficult. Mostly since there is very little street parking allowed. But we find a spot probably a km from the central park and start walking.  We get to the Catedral Basílica de Salta which is pink and white on the outside with lots of white carvings. The interior is beautiful and has lots of gold leaf in the alter.

Armadillo in the middle of the traffic circle

Nice monument in Plaza 9 de Julio

Cathedral Basilica de Salta

The tile flooring is mesmerizing!

how about those shoes!! Look like Herman Munster shoes! LOL!!
We walk around Plaza 9 de Julio (their independence day) for a bit and then onto the pedestrian mall. Just a lot of stores and not much interesting here for us so decide to go back to Vanna and get on the highway and head further south. We stop and pick up 4 small empanadas from a street vendor and find Vanna and head out.

We need water, and the gas stations don't seem to have any. So I figure we need to find the firehall since they would have water! I find one that is only a few blocks away and when we arrive we see a hose hanging on the column 😁 Dwayne goes and asks to use it and of course no problem. Great now we have a full tank again. We're taking the slow route south thru some more canyon area.

Once we get into the canyon area they must have had a lot of rain here lately because the highway is covered with lots of mud and rocks. Everywhere there is a dip in the highway to let water flow thru is covered and we need to slow down. There is some equipment out moving the dirt away but this cleanup will take awhile!

Around 3:30 we find a spot near the river - muddy but nice to listen to. As it turns out there are 2 other vehicles here from locals that are fishing. So we park and I decide to make a pot of veg soup in the pressure cooker.  Once I had that made I sat outside and could here the music from one of the vehicles. There are 3 guys there sitting around the fire, having a few beers. But we decide that if they stay longer the music will be louder and so will they so decide to move to another spot 20 mins further down the road.

As it turns out the second spot is way nicer then the last one. Here there are trees we can back into and are hidden from the highway. After supper we watch a movie called Spotlight, real interesting movie (2005) about the priests and how they were getting away with molesting kids in the catholic church. The movie is about the Globe and Mail in Boston doing the story on it and bringing to light the number of kids that were molested and how the church just moved the priests around and paying off lawyers to prevent the priests from being prosecuted and sent to jail!!  Man what a screwed up bunch!!

This morning we get to use our outside shower! Great to have some room to move around in our little add a tent and it's such a nice sunny morning! After pancakes we pack up and continue on south thru this canyon. Not sure where we will end today.

Lots of mud/dirt on the road from a river flowing over the highway

Also seeing lots of grapevines here

Road into our spot for the night 

Still have vendors along the highway anywhere there is a tourist stop - this one selling pottery dishes

River snaking thru the valley

This is all gravel from a river previously running thru here in the heavy rains

There's Vanna waiting for us :)

A lot of cool rock formations in this area

Another area where the river has flowed over the highway and then towards the main river 

Argentina!! :)

Our last might spent in Bolivia got interrupted by the Policia around 10pm.  After we had spend the afternoon by the river we moved to a site off the road that other IOverlanders had stayed at. It was probably around 4pm when we parked. Dwayne then did some work on Vanna - needed to replace the brakes on the driver’s side, passenger side is still ok.  After having supper and watching one of the new movies we bought that day we hit the sack. Shortly afterwards headlights shine into the back window. Policia come to the side of the van and Dwayne gets dressed and opens the door and talks to the policia who tell us we have to move. Need to go to Tupiza.  And they left. 

Pigs came to visit us :) 

No you can't come in!!

Dwayne building up some muscle 😂

Got a shot of the goats eating the berries in the argan trees
So we had to get everything moved to make the 10 minute drive back to Tupiza. Guessing someone must have complained about us to the police because where we were parked no one could see us from the road. There were only a couple of houses nearby.  So we move stuff and head into town. First time we’ve been kicked out of a parking spot! I check IOverlander and shows we should be able to park near the train station. Damn there goes our quiet night!  We arrive at the train station and park - lots of lights shining down on us and still a few people in the park just infront of the station where were are parked.  They actually stayed there talking loudly until probably after midnight. Then at 3:30 a few guys sat right on the bench beside our van (there are lots of benches here) and start talking. After awhile they leave, think they were waiting for a ride since they all had small backpacks with them, because I don’t think buses are running at this time of night. So our sleep was interrupted a few times. Once we got up we moved over to the site by the river to have our coffee and breakfast in peace :) 

Then it’s time to get moving and drive to Villazón (90km away) to get to the border crossing.  We get to the crossing - as usual it’s a little mixed up. Seems we get stamped into Argentina but we don’t need to get stamped out of Bolivia. Thats a first. Then we cancel our Bolivian temp import permit and get a new one for Argentina.  Once we got that we waited to have customs check Vanna - the customs guy looked in - spoke English so asked us a few questions, gave back the permit and that was it. Off we go into Argentina 😁 

Of course the first city looks no different then what we have been seeing for the last almost 4 months - just another dirty border city. But we find an ATM and take out 4000 Ar peso ($60C) and the charge is $10.50US!!  So not taking anymore out of the machine, hopefully we’ll figure out which ATM will not charge us to take out money! When we get to Salta we’ll have time to check out the ATMs. Right now we have enough plus the tank is full of gas, used the last of our Bolivianos (except 30Bol).  Then went to a kiosk to buy a SIM card. Claro is here so thought I would buy that one.  She told me the price in Ar pesos but asked if she took Bolivianos and she said the cost was 10Bol.  I asked if she could help set it up and she would, so I put in the SIM card but shows No Service. I shut the phone off and turn it on, no change. She looked at my phone to try and figure it out, but couldn’t. I then put the SIM into Dwayne’s phone, still no service. Then switched the language to Spanish so maybe the girl could figure it out. Nope.  Well guess that was a waste of 10Bol, must be a defective SIM but of course I can’t get my money back. I’ll get that fixed once in Salta. We drive around looking for a grocery store but everything is closed up! The town seems dead!  Oh well we’ll get groceries somewhere along the road.

We now driving out in the Altiplano again, with llamas, alpacas around us. Highway is nice and smooth. Mountains in the distance. We stop in a little town to get some more water and continue on. I look at my phone and see I now have service! Guess Claro has none or very little service in the border town. Now I have to register the phone once I have a strong signal. 

Wow these are beautiful mountains once we are in Argentina

The opposite direction - still altiplano
The highway is great!

Even some of the gas stations look North American

We can always tell where the policia stations are because all the wrecked vehicles are parked out front!

Our first little town in Argentina to get some water 
We soon leave the altiplano and start thru the mountains and they look really cool. But first a police check stop. The young guy comes up and asks where we are from - Canada, then in English he say Why are you here? We’re tourists! and smile. He smiles and asks for our passports and then says to go - with a smile. First check stop that the policia spoke English :)  

Today we are only going about 150kms to what sounds like a nice quiet spot off the highway near a canyon :)  We still see adobe houses since most of the people living in this area of Argentina are the native Quechua - which are also in Bolivia and north. But we are seeing more European type cars on the road instead of Chinese or Japanese cars like we have been seeing. 

We get to the parking spot for the night right next to a nice red canyon. We see lots of people returning from the hike to thru the canyon, we’ll do that hike to tomorrow. We then realized we lost another hour - we now on Toronto time.  Another overland drives by and parks close to the the entrance to the hike.  They are from France.  I make something different for dinner Chicken Milano, pretty tasty and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine that we bought in a small store on the way here. Bought a litre box for 65AP about $1.50!! LOL!!! Next time I’ll really splurge and buy a bottle, but those are usually to big to put in our fridge and also only 750ml 😂

Nice area for spending the night

When we wake up in the morning it’s nice a sunny. Had a great quiet sleep but unfortunately the sky was cloudy so never got to see any stars. After breakfast we head out for our hike. Suppose to be 2km one way. On the way we stopped and talked to the French couple. They are about our age and are now heading towards Uruguay to park their camper until July so they can fly back to France for a visit. They have already travelled to Ushuaia in December and said it was very cold. Hope that when we get there by Dwayne’s birthday (end of Feb) it won’t be so cold! He’s lucky he always gets to enjoy having his birthday in different countries! I always get to spend mine (June) in either Alberta or BC LOL!!!

After talking with the French couple for about 15 mins we head out for our hike. We’re not hiking up high but we are still at 9500’ so still tough just walking uphill a little! But the view is great. The French couple had said the hike was magnificent!  As it turns out we followed the maps.me trail and it took us to the base of the mountains, but there was no canyon. As we walked back we see some people walking back from another direction so we head there. Now we actually find where the river flows (during the rainy season, it’s dry now) The walk thru here is great. Reminds us of other red mountain trails we’ve taken back in Arizona and Utah 😅 (yes Sue I hear Greg in the back of my head but don't tell him! 😂)  But there are not bus loads of people being dropped off here! We are the only ones walking thru here. Guess it continues for quite aways but I’m pooped so we head back. We get back just after 12 and have hiked 6km. Time to get back on the road and head to Salta. 

Oh so this is where we were suppose to go!

Odd looking plants growing on these rocks

We travel thru the mountains and see more great views. Once thru the mountains we end up taking what I thought was the main highway to Salta but instead it’s an older road. Looks like the roads in Holland where we weren’t sure if we were driving on a bicycle path or a road! It’s very narrow, Vanna doesn’t even fit in the lane :) The road is in good shape other then when a car comes from the other direction each vehicle had to drop a wheel off the pavement to be able to pass!  The road is very windy but it’s so nice driving thru all these trees.  

Dressed up gauchos??

They even have bicycle paths here!

Love this road

But it is a little narrow!

As we get closer to Salta it is almost 4pm so instead of driving in and finding a place to park in the city, we’ll look for something outside in the country.  The first place we stopped at looked like a great place, had to pay but it had nice shelters for the tables. But the guy at the gate told us it was not for overnight parking :( So we continue on and then find a place along the river. We drive thru a gravel business to get to it but hopefully we can stay here tonight and not get told to move!  

Our parking spot along the river

Across the river are some nice houses

Salta in the background

Families having fun in the river, even though it's not very clear

Some are enjoying fishing and family time

We got thru the night and now look forward to seeing Salta, plus get groceries and get some laundry done and get my cell phone working!!