Week two in Salta has been pleasant and unrushed, if mildly frustrating at times. We made the big decision to head home for the summer, bought tickets from NZ to Europe, headed into the city on fruitless missions, visited a Wichi village and watched the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup.
Monday 17/10 Noah takes Lila into school at 7:30 in the morning, and today we dragged ourselves out of bed early enough to get a lift in with them. We had two things on the agenda: pick up my new glasses from the optometrist, and visit the museum.
It had been an early start though, so we began the day with coffee and medialunas at a café on the main square before heading to the museum to check the opening hours. Which is when we discovered that it doesn’t open on Mondays. Drat.
Next, we headed to the mall to pick up the glasses. Of course, being 9:30 by this time, the mall wasn’t open either, but a least it professed to opening at 10. We skulked around the supermarket a bit and arrived at the optometrist’s at five past ten. However, there was a problem here too, and it wasn’t just that my new lenses were so much stronger than my old ones that they made me dizzy; the credit card machine wasn’t working. We tried all of our cards to no avail, and eventually Federico let us go without paying, as long as we promised to come back the next day. We left my old glasses with him as security, though I’m not sure how much security it is to leave behind something that will very shortly take up space in a rubbish bin.
Finally, we went to the market, where we had a lot more luck than in our other endeavours, and bought a whole bunch of vegetables as well as some Jesus Cheese. (The vendor’s cart was graced by a large picture of The Lord.)
Tuesday 18/10 After a morning spent wrangling the Air Asia website and making phone calls to the bank, we caught the bus into the city — to visit the museum and pay for my glasses. You can imagine our mirth when when we couldn’t pay for the glasses since the new machine hadn’t arrived yet. And the fun continued when, on arriving at the museum, we discovered that it was closed for the day for maintenance. Ha! Ha! Ha!
The day wasn’t completely wasted though: I bought some popcorn. It was good.
Wednesday 19/10 We’d told Federico that there was no way we’d be coming back on Wednesday to attempt to pay for the glasses, so we spent the day at home working and catching up on some reading.
Thursday 20/10 Thursday means an early start; we dropped Lila off then had coffee and medialunas at the bus station before heading to school. My little group kept working on the blog we’d started the week before, adding a couple of posts and changing the theme. Leigh and Noah were working with iMovie and Photoshop, and Craig was helping another group start a whole-class blog.
Afterwards we visited Yaguar, which turned out to be another bulk-food place which, like the one we visited last week, doesn’t sell unadulterated coffee — all the coffee here is laced with sugar. We had very tasty empanadas for lunch before heading back to the mall and finally paying for the glasses, though not by card; we had to take cash out. Federico kindly gave us a discount to make up for the fact that withdrawing cash is stupidly expensive here, and we were all happy.
the evening we made our first batch of Irreverent Empanadas. Argentinians take their empanadas very seriously and would never consider filling them with some of the things we plan to put in them. We started simply though; Fried Apple. Dusted with sugar, of course. They were tasty.
Friday 21/10 After the excitement of yesterday, we needed a rest; we stayed home and worked.
Saturday 22/10 Noah, Craig and I left the house at about 7:30 for the long drive north to the Wichi village at Hickman. Lila had woken up with a fever so Leigh had to stay home with her, which was a pity.
The drive took about four hours, which we broke with a stop for coffee and medialunas halfway there. It was midday and hot when we arrived, and Noah’s contact Simón invited us to sit in the shade while he finished the section of fishing net he was making. Women and kids started to gather around; Noah handed out the oranges he’d brought.
It was a pretty laid-back visit. Noah gave out batteries for the cameras they leave there so that the kids can take photos, and we talked with Simón and another community leader called Ramón about how they’d like Cloudhead to help the village in the future. Then we gave out the clothes that Leigh and Noah had collected at a recent exhibition they’d put on to display photos of the village, many of which were taken by the kids themselves. It was great to see the kids’ eyes light up as they played with the cameras.
Ramón and Simón seemed to be gradually accepting the fact that Cloudhead really wanted to help them and aren’t going to do a runner like has happened in the past. We talked about what they wanted: to plant crops, some bricks to repair the church… It wasn’t a lot.
It was dark by the time we got home, and Leigh had prepared a tasty soup and episode two of the Irreverent Empanadas: Steamed Red Bean. They were good but a little sweet; we plan to refine the recipe for next time.
Sunday 23/10 We had tried to find a live stream to watch some of the other Rugby World Cup games, and had failed. This morning though, Craig found one on Veetle, which was recommended to us by the owner of the hostel we stayed in in Asuncion. And thank goodness — I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the final!
New Zealand was playing France, a repeat of the quarter-final game we’d seen in Zurich four years ago. Last time, we lost. This time, we did not — and the World Cup finally belongs to New Zealand again! We expressed our joy very quietly, given the early hour (7am) and went back to sleep.
The rest of the day was relatively lazy, Craig did some work while I read (I’ve been catching up on some Terry Pratchett) and in the evening I smashed him at the Catan card game.