The bus ride from Salta capital to S.S. de Jujuy is a mere two hours but it felt a whole lot longer. Perhaps it was the arctic air-conditioning limbering up for the forthcoming summer. And the trite Nicholas Cage film on TV battling for attention with the driver’s belting folk music was definitely responsible. I arrived in Jujuy deaf and cold, with a sore head from bumping it twice on the rather low luggage rack.
I took a cab. It got a puncture and the driver threw me out. I walked the two blocks to my hotel. I’d noted down the wrong address. It was 3pm and siesta time, and I couldn’t pick up a lunch snack for love or money. Then my luggage burst open, and the vultures started to circle over my sore head…
I got to the Gregorio I and for a feed, was told to head to the new shopping mall. “It’s your only option,” said Martín the concierge. I sloped off, tick-ticking sights along the way. San Francisco Church, which is deceptively old looking, the cathedral, Cabildo and General Belgrano Square – not a drunk in sight, although plenty of Kirchneristas keen to remind me that Néstor is indeed alive on the first anniversary of the former president’s death.
Bog-standard mall fare awaited me on the second floor of the Annuar Shopping so I wandered back down Belgrano street to one of several taco joints I’d spotted. Un taco solito – just the one for AR$8 – freshly sizzled beef and then around 15 dips to shovel on top. I chose black beans, butter beans but none of the creamy sauces which looked like they’d been at their prime (rather like me) several hours ago.
Panza llena, corazón contento so off I wandered to see some more north-western history. I clambered up into a stunning old-school Club Social, all dark wood and pannelled walls, briefly wished I was a member knocking back a Fernet and coke and as I walked back down the pedestrianised area, realised just how many ladies’ slutty shoe stores there are in the capital of Jujuy province.
In Salta, a city with its fair share of cobbled streets, I had noticed women teetering about, wobbling, without a care in the world about their instability. But 97km north in S.S. de Jujuy, the more outrageously vertiginous the heels (tacos) have become, made out of plastic and other awful man-made materials that frankly look unsightly and impossible to even stand in – maybe it’s because the city is 1,259 metres above sea level, a whole 72 metres higher than sister la linda Salta, that the ladies feel the need to be higher.
Lame explanation? Sure, but I wanted to share tacos in all their evident forms near the Quebrada de Humahuaca. It’s just that for me, it’s well ‘ard to conquer high heels at the best of times, never mind on cobbled streets or in dry, arid mountain heat. Taco, taco? Best off eating one, me thinks. Over and out.