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Salta is a great little city in northern Argentina; in a valley, it’s surrounded by foothills of the Andes. Salta has some of the best colonial Spanish architecture in the country, and we loved walking around the compact downtown area.

This is a detail from a building next to the above San Francisco church. The facade looked simultaneously Inca, Egyptian and art deco.

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The cathedral resembled an ornate pastry on the outside, and had a massive baroque alter.

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People were very friendly, though most spoke no English. Salta, Iguazu and Carlos Pelligrini are the first places we’ve seen very many Native Americans on our trip. There weren’t many in Santiago, Valparaiso or Buenos Aires.

The local cuisine was delicious. It included tamales, humitas (tamale-like items), and locro, a hearty stew that includes veal, chickpeas and corn. Local white cheese with a quince-like preserved fruit are a traditional desert. We enjoyed the return to more rustic food, after Buenos Aires.

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Near our B&B were many beautiful old colonial homes in local style. Salta┬┤s architecture has a Moorish influence, from Spain, and there are lovely old tiles that reminded us of Spain or Istanbul. Enclosed balconies with wood screens continued the theme.

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A tribute to General Guemes, one of Argentina’s liberators, is at the base of a big hill on the edge of town.

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Nearby is a fun little archeology museum with some board-flattened skulls and funerary urns for children. Climbing the hill behind the museum took us about half an hour, and we saw lots of local joggers. From the top, we took a Swiss-made gondola down to the center of town.

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Odd ducks swam in the lake at the center of town.

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Another archaeological museum, Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana, was really well curated and nicely designed. The highlight of their collection is three frozen mummies — Inca child sacrifices found high in the Andes. The mummies are incredibly well preserved — lifelike because of the freezing temperatures, and have been featured in National Geographic. Unfortunately, they won’t be on display until September — we were very disappointed. But it was interesting to see films on how they were found and preserved. And the (non-invasive) studies done on the mummies have ranged from finding out whether they were well fed before their deaths, and gathering DNA to contribute to migration studies. Clothing, headdresses, and ceremonial dolls buried with the children were interesting to see. There was some controversy locally as to whether it’s appropriate to display the mummies.

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While in Salta, we stayed at Bloomers, a wonderful B&B. It had a courtyard, like many of the old buildings there do. The hosts served elaborate breakfasts, including local Andean potatoes, dulce de leche crepes, and media lunas (crescent moons, or croissants), which are ubiquitous in Argentina.