12.03.2012 - 12.03.2012 25 °C
Easy going day, after breakfast only transfer to Salta, where we reach proper civilisation of the first time after Valpo, 10 days ago. Slobodan is pleased, in high mood, after all this nature some prospect of a coffee shop, on a paved road.
After me taking the obligatory pictures from Purmamarca and it's colourful stonewalled backyard, just after sunrise, which is not that early, we have another plung into pool, before packing, breakfast, and the pickup arrives.
There are only another few photoshoots to be taken, from coloured mountains, and piturestically laying cemeteries, before we reach the motorway, and Salta shortly afterwards.
We try to engage the guide into a discussion on economics and politics, but don't get too far, as her English doesn't reach that far, but also the remainders of the Menem family are kind of tabu.
But at least we learn that a local teacher earns 1500 pesos, while the local polical representative from Salta earns 10-20 times more. One might think that the middle class would be able to change this, but fortunately for the political class there is an even larger group of people at the bottom end of the society scale, who are unemployed and have no money, aside from the basic government support which allows them without work to survive. They are being promised a base income by any new winning government, and vote therefore quite consistently the feudal family at the top, the Kirchners, him earlier until his death, and now his wife.
We reach the town, a squared, chess board organised colonial city, and quickly enter the oasis of our hotel. It's unexpectedly a little palace with a courtyard inside, sunny and airy, very high ceilings, a balcony, and not much noise from the street.
Since the major attractions are around the main square, 9 Julio, the cathedral, the museum of contemporary art (MOC), some high altitude ethnology museum, and most important many coffee shops, of which the van gogh, based on Slobodan's research serves the best.
We have a break there first, before we enter the ground floor of the MOC, which exhibits some Paraguayan young artists, social exploitation, indigenous rituals re staged, and reflections on unhealthy foreign alliances. The texts are Spanish only, our understanding limited.
The first floor exhibits a Buenos Aires based artist, Marcos Lopez, who restages private scenes which can involve local celebrities from politics and sport, often based on newspaper prints, fotographs them, and partly overpaints them with helping hands from his atelier. The result is a hyper realistic image, comical, placative, sometimes like an advertising, bu with no obvious product. He also stages the resulting paintings to the confusion of his co-citizen covering a whole high raise building or on stalls in malls or on harbour walls. Interesting guy, socially aware, if not critical, based on the people he screens.
Back to our schedule, the main square, which also hosts the local cathedral, we enter as many others do, since it's time for the most important catholic service during the week, Sunday it is.
We observe for a while the incoming people, as in Mediterranean churches, whole families attend, kids running around the corridors, and only after the chaplain, a lady, opens the service announcing the priest, which I'm not sure of since he's too young, could because of his rope be a cardinal, but I doubt it. The people get of their seat soon, and start singing lead by a small choir, filling the room with an unexpected harmonic sound. After listening to a parable, which I didn't understand, only something on the sevens day happened and some readings from the corinth letters, we decide too leave.
The ice cream parlour is also on the square, in case we didn't mention it, has three different sorbets, which we all try on the way home. But we're no staying long, since another drink is due tonight, bu figuring out a bar starts getting difficult. We search the internet first, but only a few places popup, two in hotels and and in wine bar. We reach the hotel first, a high rise, but the bar integrated into the restaurant is on the ground floor, no ambition of the hotel to provide a nice view with a drink, matching the ambience, a postsocialistic style, although the stuff nice, we leave quickly. The next place on the list is the wine bar (feisty something), which is closed! Next on the list then is a busy street, where one bar/restaurant is next to each other. It's quite a noisy stretch, sit down in a spot where they life stage, play back, some 80s rhythms, and we order a pizza and some drinks, finally. After midnight w head back home into our oasis.