134 days down, 12 to go: Observations from Salta and Jujuy

purmamarca jujuy argentina un pueblo chico


[Photo of Purmamarca, Jujuy, Argentina. Population in 2001: 2,089]

WOW! Time really does fly when you’re having a great time and boy have these four and a half months flown by. I can’t believe I only have 12 days left here and then I’ll be back in Arizona. I have mixed feelings-sad to leave the culture, the friends I’ve made, and the language here but excited to see my friends, family and return to my life in Arizona.

This week’s post is about a few observations I made while visiting Salta(the capital city of Salta) and Jujuy(San Salvador de Jujuy and Purmamarca-two provinces in the North.

Foreigners stick out more

While in San Salvador de Jujuy, with of population of over 230,000 people, we definitely caught a lot of attention. Since Jujuy is farther North and has a warmer climate, the people tend to have darker skin. As a result, we stuck out like a sore thumb. A group of men even decided to call us out by yelling, “GRIIIIIIINNGGOOOOOS!” from across the street. I felt a little intimidated but got over it since I’m used to people staring at me in Buenos Aires because I’m a foreigner.

They´re more formal in the Northern provinces

The people tended to use usted, which is the formal word for “you” whereas in Buenos Aires, almost everyone uses vos, the informal word for “you.” I’ve heard that they use vos for everyone in the Capital because the don’t believe they should put someone higher than themselves for age, occupation, etc.

The people are friendlier than in Buenos Aires(The capital)

Whenever we needed help or bought something at a store and left, they people were always 10x friendlier. Instead of just chau, hasta luego(bye, see you later), most people also included something along the lines of qué les vaya bien(similar to the way we use “have a nice day”).

The “ll” sounded less like “sha” and more like “jah”

I was told this before but didn’t realize how different it sounded til I heard it in person. In Buenos Aires(the capital), the people usually pronounce the “ll” like a “sha” but in the North, people pronounced it like a “jah.”

Well, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below! 🙂


Caught in a protest in Jujuy and a night in the airport in Salta

“Joe, get up!” Stacey yelled at me first thing in the morning at our hostel in Salta.

“What? No, I wanna sleep more.” I replied back without opening my eyes or moving.

“No, seriously, Joe, get up, get up! I think there are bed bugs.”

“No, it’s probably just a fuzzy from the bed or something.”

“No, Joe. Look.”

I finally turned my back and peeked open my eyes. I saw a little black circular looking fuzzy on my pillow. I went to grab it with my hands to show her it wasn’t a bed bug and then suddenly it moved.

“Oh, no. Stace, you’re right. That’s not good. This isn’t good. We should probably switch hostels, even if this one is free.” I muttered calmly to Stacey.

loki hostel en salta argentina

And this was the first event of our exciting adventure in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy in the Northern part of Argentina.  After talking to Allie, the other friend in our group this trip, we all decided the free night’s stay wasn’t worth the bed bugs so we headed to the bus terminal and bought tickets to a province farther north called Jujuy. We had originally planned the trip to visit the Salt Flats and the Cerro de siete colores anyway so we thought the change could only benefit our trip.

When we arrived there, we were extremely lucky to receive a free map and assistance from a man at a ticket office who recommended a few hostels in the area. The first hostel we went to looked cozy and had a pool so we booked it for two nights.

Thanks to our luck, the room had a few cockroaches(only 2, thanks goodness) and I had trouble sleeping due to my fear of cockroaches and the idea that one might climb up the bunk bed and land on me while sleeping. Lucky for me, we found them and killed them before they could sneak up on us.

The second day in Jujuy was amazing. We took a bus to Purmamarca, a city about 90 minutes away from the capital of the province(San Salvador de Jujuy) and visited the Cerro de siete colores and the Salt Flats(las Salinas Grandes). The road from Purmamarca to the Salt Flats was quite an adventure(picture in the middle).

el cerro de siete colores
la ciudad purmamarca en jujuy argentina
la cuesta de lipan joe previte en una remera de university of arizona wildcats
salinas grandes con stacey y joe

After our awesome day, we ate delicious ice cream and went home to watch a movie and go to bed early because our bus back to Salta left around 9am so we needed to leave the hostel by 8:30.

Friday morning, we woke up and headed out on schedule, arriving at the bus terminal five minutes before our bus left. We boarded it with smiles on our faces knowing that we would arrive in Salta with enough time to explore before our 8pm flight home to Buenos Aires. Little did we know that our adventures were no where near the end and only about to  get 10x more interesting from here on out.

Less than 30 minutes into our two-hour-and-thirty-minute bus ride to Salta, we encountered our first problem- a road blocks made of tires lite on fire on the highway by protesters. They surrounded all the entries and exists and prevented us from leaving. Fortunately, the protest was not violent by any means but they said they weren’t going to lift the roadblocks until 9pm that night. We heard that the protest was happening all around the province because the protesters were angry with the government because the government stopped providing some sort of welfare to the people.

protesta corte en la autopista de jujuy

“Wait, but you don’t understand. We have to catch a flight back to Buenos Aires at 8pm.” I thought to myself. Stacey, Allie and I felt a little bit of a panic attack because we didn’t know what to do. I only had about 20 pesos left on my prepaid phone so we were in a pickle. Very lucky for us, there were two moms on the bus who asked needed to change their flights and called the airline for us. The airline charged us about US$50 to change our flight to Saturday morning but it was the only thing we could do to ease the stress of missing our flight or not.

After about 6 hours of sitting on the freeway, the roadblocks back to the bus terminal in Jujuy were lifted and we headed back to the terminal to change buses. We waited about an hour before the new bus came and then made our way to Salta and then the airport in Salta.

We arrived one hour before our original 8pm flight and rushed to the ticket office in hopes of being able to change back. However, our hopes were soon crushed after the woman at LAN, our airline, told us it would be another 400 pesos(about US$50) for us to change the flight. Reluctant to spend the unnecessary money, we decided to keep our flight for the next morning and spend the night in the airport.

Yes, you would think the adventure ends here, but it doesn’t! I don’t know why we didn’t bring any extra money, debit cards, or credit cards but somehow we ended up with only 15 pesos left for food until we went home to Buenos Aires.

In the cafe in the airport, Allie asked if she could use the credit card information  she had on her phone to purchase food. She came back with a yes and we drooled looking over the menu, considering what we wanted to order.

After we decided what we wanted to order, Allie went up to the register to place the order only to be shut down once again when the same woman said, “Oh, I’m sorry. You actually can’t use the credit card details because we’re only able to slide the card.”

We went to our last resort and called my friend Ivana who is from Salta and has friends here. She explained the situation to our friend and told us that her friend could bring us 200 pesos for food later that night.

Ivana called me about an hour later and said her friend just left the center and was heading to the airport soon. Dying of hunger, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer so we ordered the pizza instead of waiting til Ivana’s friend arrived. The pizzaria 6 delicious meat empanadas and a large mozzarella pizza would arrive in 40 minutes. Perfect! The money and the pizza would arrive around the same time and we would be able to eat! We were filled with joy.

Then I received a call. It was Ivana. Her friend couldn’t bring us the money.

Our luck stuck once again! I panicked at first and didn’t have any idea what I would tell the pizza man when he arrived and I didn’t have the money to pay him. We called the pizza place and cancelled the order and decided we would have to wait until tomorrow to eat since we spent 10 of our 15 pesos calling the pizza place and using the internet to contact our parents.

stacey and allie sleeping in the airport of salta

To end our adventure of unluckiness, we woke up around 5am in the morning on Saturday and agreed we could buy a medialuna, or croissant, with our last five pesos and split it for breakfast.

I walked up to the cafeteria and proudly said, “I would like one medialuna please” and handed the cashier the two 2 peso bills and peso in coins.

“I’m sorry, they’re six pesos.” She said with a sad look on her face.

“Wait, what? But yesterday they were five on the menu?”

“Yes, you’re right. But we raised the prices today.”

“Well… okay, then. Thank you.” I said disappointingly and walked away.

We battled our hunger off and waited til we arrived in Buenos Aires to be treated to a large mozzarella pizza by Ivana. Wooh! What an adventure it was.

If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed it 🙂 Feel free to leave any comments below!