Salta and the Opera

Day 1: July 11, 2010
I arrived in Salta very late at night after a picturesque journey through the Jama passage. I got a taxi and headed to the hostel that Mario and I have agreed on. Taxis in Salta by the way were very cheap. He dropped me off at the hostel, I handed him a rather large note and he of course didn’t have any change. I went into the hostel and told them I wanted to stay there and wondered whether they had any change for the taxi. At first he didn’t but then he found some small bills and paid for it. I would have to pay him back.
They didn’t have any space available in the main building but they offered to take me to their second building that was just a few hundred meters away. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It was a large, spacious colonial house elaborately decorated with pretty tiles. There was even a small fountain in the back courtyard. I got settled in the dorm and went out for a quick bite. I had a plate of locro in a nearby restaurant before I went back to the hostel for a hot shower. I bathed and went to bed.
Day 2: July 12, 2010
I got up in the morning, eager to see Mario, wondering why he was running late. While I was having breakfast, the lady informed me that the other building had advised Mario as to my whereabouts (just as I had requested the night before) and he was now on his way to me.
Once he had settled in we went out for a bite and a mini city exploration. We wandered around, chatting. We decided we felt like some Chinese food and asked around for a restaurant. The police pointed us to a couple of good places and we went to check them out. The Chinese restaurant was not just Chinese but everything else you could imagine and it was all you can eat. I don’t remember the last time I had seen Mario so excited. The only downside was that it only opened at 8.00pm and it was still about 6.30pm. We decided to head to the market to kill some time.
After dinner we went to the tourist office to get some ideas. We decided to go for a short hike on the following day.
Day 3: July 13, 2010
After breakfast we headed to the city center and after some searching we found the bus stop we needed. Soon enough the bus arrived and it took us all the way to a nearby village where we could begin the hike. The trail was only a couple of kilometers long and it didn’t take too long to finish. It was a pretty, leafy walk under the trees, overlooking the valley in the distance. We walked casually, stopping at a small river to get some fresh water before continuing to the lookout point on top of the hill.
We bumped into this young bull on the way there and Mario was trying to take a photo with him, hugging him! Once that was dismissed we could continue our walk. The view from the top of the hill was pretty. We saw the village of San Lorenzo at its foot, Salta in the distance as well as the valley further down. We played a few games of backgammon, Mario munched on Pringles and I had some M&Ms before we headed back to town.
As we were walking back to the hostel we passed by the local theater where I spotted a poster for an opera performance for that same night. I went to give it a closer look and realized it was the national polyphonic choir and soloists singing excerpts from Traviatta accompanied by the local symphony. It was too good to miss and although Mario wasn’t too excited he agreed to come in and find out the ticket prices with me. Imagine my surprise when some of the best seats cost only $4! There was no way I was missing it now. I imagined it being explosive and I was so excited. Mario wasn’t sure but he thought it was so cheap that he couldn’t really go wrong so we bought the tickets.
We went back to the hostel, showered, dressed up and hurried back to the theatre. The seats we had bought were better than I thought and we had an excellent view of the stage. Soon the performance began and we listened. Mario made fun of certain parts but admitted he actually enjoyed it. I was so happy that it turned out to be the explosive performance I was imagining it to be. As we were leaving the theater they treated us to a glass of champagne. Sweet! Mario was now in love with the performance.
We went for a late night dinner and then back to the hostel to get some rest.
Day 4: July 14, 2010
Today we were going to Cafayate for a multiday trip through Valles Calchaquies but first we had a few chores to take care of. Mario had to talk to his family, I had to talk to mine, and most importantly I had to extend the dates for my return flights. While Mario busied himself on the Inet I checked my bank account, making sure I had enough money to pay for the next three months of traveling as well as pay the airlines penalty fees. Once that was confirmed I found their phone numbers, talking directly to the airlines instead of going through the website I had used t purchase the tickets thus avoiding an extra penalty charge. Luckily, I could change the tickets, and my preferred dates were available. I worried it would be a huge deal as I had seen others struggle with it but it only took half an hour (mostly on hold) before I saw the e-mail confirming my new dates. Sweet!
Now that was taken care of, I could talk to my grandmother. First thing she said was ‘where are you? Aren’t you coming back already?’ and then ‘Who’s this Mario you are traveling with?’. Gotta love my grandma. After the latest updates on the garden, the animals and the family affairs I decided to talk to my sister, since I hadn’t spoken to her in a really long time. I couldn’t get through to her at home and I tried her mobile but that didn’t work either. I phoned my dad, hoping he would know where she was and although he got her on her mobile I only managed to relate a message to her. The rest of the time I spent talking to my dad about the family and my travels.
Once we were done with all the talking we picked up our laundry and headed to the bus terminal. The trip to Cafayate took four hours and we arrived in the late afternoon.
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