“Make the most out of tonight and worry about it all tomorrow.”
Salta seems, in retrospect, a complete blur. Our first night at Loki Hostel ended fairly messily due to the cheap drinks and fantastic bar staff. Our group of 35 made our way into town where we all proceeded to go slightly crazy. A couple of us joined an al fresco salsa session and I then proceeded to join a local band playing in a bar! However an overly friendly dog about the size of a great dane at one point decided my arm was a chew toy and despite my cries of “ayudarme” (help me) the locals just found it hilarious. My toe nail being split in half by the rarity of a clumsy argentinian was the last straw. I headed home at 4:00 a good few hours before the others returned!
The drunken frivolities did not end there. Much of the group decided the best way to beat their hangover was to start drinking again as soon as they woke up. Here is the result:
For the rest of us the day revolved around eating, sleeping and watching Django! That being said, the staff decided that evening was the opportune moment for a ‘beer pong’ tournament. That night therefore proceeded in a similar fashion to the last.
The downside became immediately apparent the next morning. Amy, Lilya and I caught the bus into Salta to explore the town in the daylight. However after numerous empanadas and a trip up a cable car to see a view of the city, the state of my head became too much to bear so I split from the group to head home, getting lost for a couple of hours in the process!
Cheese empanadas in a little cafe near San Jose square, Salta. Yum 🙂
View from the mountain overlooking Salta.
Just an example of the beautiful architecture in Salta. This is the church of San Fransisco
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” Clifton Fadiman
We headed out to one of the biggest block parties this morning. It was as if the entire city had transformed into an overcrowded festival. There were people going to the loo on the streets. I say ‘people’ as it wasn’t just men, and I say ‘going to the loo’ as it wasn’t just peeing. Charming. Any way, it’s perhaps unfair to start on such a low note. The atmosphere was ecstatic. Everybody had some form of fancy dress; masks for the less enthusiastic, full body costumes were the norm. There were stalls and coolers full of beer everywhere and men struggling through the crowds selling metre long tubes of brightly coloured liquid which, through curiosity, we decided to try. Unsurprisingly they tasted highly poisonous and merely had ‘alcohol drink’ as their label.
Parts of the rabble were hilarious such as particularly good fancy dress efforts (the transvestites were superb) and overly vigorous dancing. However the young men were not so entertaining. It would be highly inadvisable to visit one of these parties alone! The Brazilian equivalent to a chat up line consists of the man grabbing the girl as she walks past and forcing himself upon her. Not so great when you lose your friends in the crowd. I’m hoping the Sambadrome tonight will be slightly more civilised; Although at first amusing, I must admit that I’m not entirely taken by the down and dirty 24/7 block parties.
Here’s an example of some of the debris which accumulated at the sides of the roads. The parties, incidentally, take place all along the main roads of the city centre.
A standard group of locals. By the way, this is by no means my full costume. It’s supposed to be worn with a long skirt, which I didn’t feel was appropriate for obvious reasons, and the top half!
I thought this was hilarious: A man sitting on a roof, dressed as a cat, throwing glitter into the crowds. Also somebody was squirting foam from an aerosol in the foreground.
Things have gone pretty pear shaped. I went to Mrs Nomino (the headmistress) yesterday morning as I was fed up of the way Margaret has been treating me. I already pay her weekly to look after me yet she has been demanding extra money left right and centre and insisting that I buy all the food which she then cooks for all of the people she invites round. I am running on my student loan. I cannot afford to be basically feeding a family of five or so each night. Anyway, Margaret had been leaving me on my own in the hut for large periods of time whilst she goes out to chew betelnut or drink which, after the incident with Alo, has made me feel pretty uneasy. She was frequently coming back too drunk to cook in the middle of the afternoon and she doesn’t wash up after cooking for days explaining the mice army swarming around the place.
I’ve just found out that an unmarried woman sleeping in the same house as an unmarried man for a night is a strict faux-pas here. I can see why. Any unmarried man see’s a single woman, particularly a white one as fair game. Being friends with an unmarried man here has a lot more significance and implications behind it than at home! Margaret has twice now invited strange men back to stay the night with us. The first time it was her creepy son, Jack. She promptly left for the evening leaving me on my own with him. I went to bed straight away. About an hour or so later he came into my room, lifted up my mozzy net, sat on my bed and started trying to give me a back massage and trying to force me to turn over. I firmly told him to leave and held my ground – trying not to appear weak or vulnerable. Thankfully he eventually gave up and left the room. I did not sleep after that for hours. Margaret invited two more men to stay on Friday; they were drunk and didn’t want to face their fathers. One of them was the savage who cooked my possum. Great, invite two drunk men back to an open hut which contains all of my valuables and with only a sarong hanging in a doorway to seperate us. Cheers for that. (To rub salt in the wounds she cooks them lots of MY eggs which she served on lots of MY bread but that seems relatively trivial) Anyway Mrs Nomino took me away to her house. Will keep you posted.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
Tonight presented itself as yet another sequence of ridiculous events. All the Mando teachers took a PMV down to the Bird of Paradise Hotel in Goroka (The only hotel in the Eastern Highlands) for a corporate ‘Ladies Night’ event. The hotel was pretty basic, to say the least, but after just two weeks here I was amazed at how much of a treat it seemed to have clean(ish) floors and running water in a bathroom. It seemed completely surreal. Anyway, after a couple of beers all of the ladies were pretty drunk so I retreated to the room where Margaret’s nephew was staying to watch TV. However, that didn’t last very long as he was clearly very drunk himself and was slurring his way through a one sided conversation whilst I tried to watch James Bond.
When I ventured back downstairs at around 12:00 when the PMV should had arrived to pick us up I found the room full of women around mum’s age grinding against each other, smashing glasses, vomiting and passing out around the room. It was like watching a group of young teenagers who’ve just ventured out into the mean world of alcohol.
To cut a long story short the group stayed on until the event closed, keeping the PMV driver waiting outside in his bus for over two hours. Margaret had been sick and was passed out on one of the sofas (this is the 50 year old lady responsible for my safety) so we had to leave her in a room at the hotel and come back without her. I have plenty of steam to let off as far as Margaret is concerned. Be warned: a rant may soon follow, depending on how easy I find it to get to sleep in a hut with no lock by myself (and, of course whether the internet holds out for more than half a minute – unlikely).