Back to School In Salta
14.02.2008 - 25.02.2008 35 °C
Thursday 14th February was a big day. We just spent 15 hours on a bus getting to Salta for early afternoon so I could catch the Aberdeen match. Unbelievably Fox Sports was showing Aberdeen vs Bayern Munich on the box so I had to see it. We found a small pub called the Goblin where there was beer on tap and a big screen. What more could I ask for. As you may, or may not, know, the game finished 2-2. Brilliant match and a fine start to our adventure in the north west of Argentina.
Well, all good decisions are made over a few drinks, right? Ali and I had been mulling for a while over whether or not to take more Spanish classes and that night after a couple of beers we agreed that as soon as possible we would look into it.
The next day we took ourselves around Salta on the lookout for such classes as once we hit Bolivia it would be a while before we were somewhere appropriate. After a short time we found a small hostel where a woman named Graciela worked and after a short "interview" she agreed to take us for 4 hours a day for the coming week. What had we got ourselves into. We were due to start on the Sunday, surely a day of rest!
Salta itself is a nice town and since it was such a great day we went up the cable car to check out the views over the city. At the top we found a nice little cafe where we tried out some Bolivian food (humitas and tumales) for the first time. Verdict: disgusting. Not exactly great since we were due to head there in a week or so.
That evening we were walking down the street when we came across a football stadium. It was pretty busy and soon enough we found ourselves buying some tickets to the game. It turned out to be a 5th division game and if truth be told the standard was pretty awful at times. Mind you, as usual the crowd more than made up for it with their usual antics. A few thousand, maybe four, for a game of this level seemed unusual but it was a derby game. It finished 0-0 and there were some scuffles in the crowd but the cops soon had them sorted out.
Saturday came and with it was our trip to Jujuy and the football match there. This would be my last chance to see a game in Argentina and it was Jujuy v Estudiantes whom JS Veron now plays for. Dave had organised to meet up with a supporter of Jujuy who would help us out up there but in the end it never materialised so we made our own arrangements but this was easy enough.
Once at the stadium the atmoshpere began to take off. The game started well enough and the home side were taking a hiding. About 20 minutes into the game a few thousand more supporters arrived and we had to quickly move as we had sat where the hardcore like to be. A few minutes later they unravelled a huge flag. It was the flag of Estudiantes. The supporters had kindly relieved the away fans and began to taunt them with their new trophy. It didn't last too long though as they ran out 2-0 winners despite this not being a fair reflection of the game.
Sunday was now upon us and with it came class number 1. Thankfully we didn't start till 1pm which gave us plenty time to recover from our day trip to Jujuy. The class was hellish. Graciela was intent on speaking Spanish only and getting us straight into the verbs. I didn't even understand verbs in English at school. Homework was dished out on top and in the end that took us a further 3 hours on top of the 4 at school. This was definately not my idea of fun.
8am Monday came and I was in trouble. My homework wasn't up to scratch and I got a grilling. The class was just as tough and more work than ever was dished up. It became apparent that the week was going to be harder than I had ever imagined. We treated ourselves to a brilliant lunch after class but then it was back to the books. No time for fun!!
Thankfully on day 3 Ali was the one who was taking the heat. My Spanish was picking up and I finally broke the ice with the teacher. She asked how I was enjoying it to which I replied "I would rather jump off a cliff". Strangely the reaction was a good one as she almost fell off her chair laughing. Still, the homework didn't get any easier.
That evening was due to be our friend Dave's last before he started his journey home so we headed out to a Pena show at La Estacion Vieja (The Old Station). This is basically a nice meal followed by some folk type dancing and a band. The meal was fantastic and we all got our first taste off the local goat and llama specialities. Soon after the dancing kicked off. As much as I tried not to make eye contact some dancing girl came and hauled me up. There could not have been one person in the place less willing or apt. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was a disaster but it certainly isn't up there in my SA experinces. In fact, I'd rather have been in class!
By Wednesday the classes were definately getting better. The fact they started at 8am was not though. Come our last class on the Thursday our skills had improved dramatically. We conversed with Graciela for well over an hour with relative ease and she seemed quite proud of our advances. The classes had been very tough but most definately worth it and hopefully they will help us in our final 2 months through Bolivia and Peru. There is still oodles of work for us to carry on with in order to become more fluent. We just need to find the motivation and time now.
To celebrate we hit the pub. The 2nd leg of the Aberdeen game would hopefully be on. Fortunately it wasn't as they got gubbed 5-1 but we had a great evening nonetheless.
As this was our last city in Argentina we decided that it would be best to pick up some souveniers here and mail them home. Unfortunately our plan was met with a no can do at the post office as we missed the international deadline for mailing. On the plus side we hadn't yet bought the goods we intended sending. Mind you, I still spent 2 hours looking in about 20 odd sports shops for an Argentinian football top which I never did get!
It was now time to sort out our trip to Bolivia. We picked up some tickets for the 7 hour bus trip and as we did so we bumped into some friends we had met in the southern most parts of Chile. We arranged to meet up with Andreas and Christina later that evening.
Check out day of any hostel is a little depressing. More so here as it was raining and we had 12 hours until our midnight bus. We filled up the day with a visit to the cinema. I can say with absolute certainty that under no circumstances should you waste your time with Cloverfield. We had also seen Rambo 4 and even it was better.