Thanks to a lovely school schedule with classes only on Mondays, Tuesdays, & Wednesdays plus a national holiday, I've got a six day weekend (does that count as a weekend?). Only issue is, I'm the only one here with such a sweet schedule, so what am I do to? To solve this predicament I buy a bus ticket for a trip to Salta in northern Argentina, sola.
With a backpack, a one-night reservation at a hostel, and a loose idea of how to spend the next five days, I boarded the bus in Buenos Aires for the 23-hour drive.
Lesson one: when traveling solo always stay at the most populated, "party" hostel in order to meet people and potential travel partners. Success. My first evening at the hostel proved ideal for both purposes: the place was packed for a party in the common room until we all headed to Salta's boliches. I found that there are few things more fun than partying and dancing to cumbia music with a hodgepodge of travelers who haven't been home in months mixed with native salteños. From the hostel owners, to their friends, to the travelers from Argentina, France, Israel, and beyond, there was an unlimited supply of buena onda (good vibes) and laughter to last through the night -- and convince me to turn my one-night reservation into a four night stay.
Lesson two: when you have no plans and someone invites you to do something with them the next day, say yes. I was lucky enough to share a room with an awesome pair of porteña girls who were vacationing in the north for two weeks. I'm not exactly sure what inspired them to invite me along with them to tour around Salta, but damn I'm glad they did. We ended up spending the bulk of our next five days together: walking, shopping, and eating around the city, touring to Cafayete for wine tasting, and taking buses around Salta to pueblitos and nature excursions. The buena onda from these two girls kept going the whole trip. We laughed uncontrollably over parilla as they taught me some very useful Argentine slang and then informed me that I had just eaten cow intestines (I had a funny feeling I was eating something weird). All in all, I left Salta with a new pair of Argentine friends with plans to meet up back in Buenos Aires for parilla, English-Spanish lessons, and a host of other activities. Nuevas amis for sure!
Lesson three: when another group of people from the hostel invites you to go with them to do something, again say yes. By doing this, I met another group of Argentines from Rosario & Buenos Aires plus some people from Israel. Buena onda once again when we went to an authentic peña (old homes turned into restaurants where people congregate to play music) for parilla, live folklore music, coca leaf chewing, and gaucho kissing. After eating a full cow's worth of meat, the video camera came out to record our uproar of laughter as we taught each other phrases in Spanish, English, Hebrew, and Arabic.
Lesson four: always bring a coat on the bus rides to/from Buenos Aires, because you never know when you'll have to stop and wait for an hour at midnight at a random outdoor bus terminal in the middle of Argentina. Just saying.