November 5, 2006

Slackpacking
Salta, Argentina

I've been a lazy man this past week, enjoying the abrupt transition from perpetual bus travel to stationary hostel life.

I've been here longer than most—many are en route to other destinations (as expected). Finishing another novel, experimenting with unfamiliar vintages and blends of red wine, and trying to rebuild some of my lost vocabulary with zee Germans has comfortably filled (and entertained me for) several days.

Halloween and All Saints/Souls Day was a total wash—I crossed paths with no related celebrations or traditions… Although I did experienced a serious dose of Argentinean culture last night: Dinner at 10:00 in the evening; out to the nightclub at 2:00; home after daybreak. I've never seen a disco still packed with people at 6:30 in the morning—amazing. I can see why businesses take the 1–5:00 afternoon siesta so seriously here.

Eye Contact

Given the number of travelers that pass through Salta, I'm rather surprised with the percentage of men and women that stare at me as I walk the streets. I'm not being sized up (for my value or strength)—I'm acutely aware of that type of behavior—it's just friendly, persistent eye contact from folks. I look back, and give 'em a friendly Howdy in the local tongue.

I know I don't blend into the population—about the only place I'd do that would be in northern Europe—but I am seeing an incredible shift in skin tone (towards the lighter end of spectrum). I would describe many as cross between an Italian and a Spaniard.

Outlaws

Bolivia and Argentina are two of the last places I would have expected to hear about bandits from the American Wild West, but the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid permeates this region of the continent. I'm thinking to myself, How on Earth did gunslingers find themselves living and robbing in Bolivia? It seemed a little unbelievable.

Crazy as it sounds (to me), Butch Cassidy and part of his posse fled from the United States back in 1901, catching a British steamer bound for Argentina. The outlaws lived for several years in NW Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia at the onset of the 20th century, until they supposedly met their end in southern Bolivia.

It's pretty wild to think about these guys running around down here over a hundred years ago. I wonder if they learned any Spanish.

See Ya, Salta

As much as I've enjoyed standing still for the past week, marinating in wine and conversation, it's time for me to be moving along. Many travelers are taking long bus trips back to Buenos Aries for a huge concert event on the 11th of November, but I'm heading south tonight—off to Mendoza, the heart of Argentinean wine country.

Comments:

Adrienna

November 8th, 2006

This sounds like an amazing journey, Craig.

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