Friday, January 11, 2008

San Lorenzo

When we arrived in the beautiful little city of Salta in Northern Argentina, we knew there was something very special about it. Whilst exploring the city centre we savoured the idea that Salta was a hub for domestic tourism and were therefore unlikely to see many other gringos around. So you can imagine our surprise when all of a sudden we bumped into our gringo friend Kat! We had met her in Buenos Aires whilst studying Spanish. Actually, to be perfectly honest it wasnt THAT much of a surprise, we´d already bumped into her in Iguazu...

Not having the first clue as to what we were actually here to see, we headed to the tourist information centre. We decided we all wanted to go horse riding in the nearby town of San Lorenzo and agreed to meet at a restaurant the next morning.

At breakfast the following day, I noticed a dog poke his head through the window grill. As usual, I made a lot of high pitched cutsie sounds to it. When we left, the dog was behind us and Jez commented that I had made a new friend. Now there are a LOT of stray dogs around and generally they are pretty self sufficient and don't bother people. So when the dog crossed the street with us and turned the corner we started to suspect he was following us. A few blocks later we arrived in the city centre with our new friend in tow and spotted Kat waiting for us. "Look who followed us all the way from our hostel," we said excitedly. "I was also followed," she said pointing to a big black dog that was loyally sitting next to her.

When we got up to leave, both dogs got up and followed us. We found this both amusing and concerning. We were used to walking dogs on a lead. Telling them when to stop, sit, look left right and left again and then cross the street. But these dogs just ran across roads negotiating traffic, stopping to inspect scrap food and lapping up drain water. Somehow, another dog joined the crew. After proving he could successfully make it across the road without getting run over, he was accepted into the group.

Anyway, after about 20 mins we landed up at the bus stop and wondered if we could take our new friends with us? We never rule out anything anymore, too many strange things happen to us! Turns out we didn't need to worry. The dogs waited patiently with us and when the bus came they didn't try to get on it.

Shortly we arrived in San Lorenzo, a stunning town with rolling green hills and magnificent houses. Nestled into one of these hills is the Los Amigos horse riding club. For a bargain price we got to ride 3 beautiful horses into the hills for an hour. The horse riding itself though was rather informal. No helmets, no indemnity forms and no experience needed.

Jez and his horse were like two peas in a pod. No need to show the matching picture of Jez ...

alt=After our ride, we got to feed the horses...although as you can see from this picture, the horses happily munched on what they could along the way. Click on the photo to your left see Jez feeding his horse and listen out for him trying to remember its name.

But the day wasn't over yet. The horses weren´t the only ones that needed to be fed. Across from the horse riding place, was a little restaurant. To the left is their menu and we decided to be adventurous and try the tamale and humita. Tamale consists of steam-cooked corn meal dough filled with vegetables or meat and wrapped in an inedible corn husk. The humita is similar but sweet. After many of these, we were ready for a hike.

Well it was less of a hike and more of a relaxing walk through the forest on a clearly marked trail. San Lorenzo had not seen the last of us, days later we would return and stay overnight at El Castillo - The Castle. It was built over 100 years ago by an Italian gunsmith as an extravagant summer holiday home but abandoned due to the enormous financial overhead. An American backpacker picked up the pieces and restored it into its current state - a stunning hotel and restaurant.

This was the view from our balcony. We would be fortunate enough to meet the American backpacker whilst he was up a ladder diligently plucking figs off a tree right outside our room...

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