The Havanna Café, Salta, Argentina

Leo sips his café and bites into a small alfajor. His close-cropped black hair frames a face prone to easy smiles and glittering eyes. We’re sitting in the Havanna Café north of Salta’s main plaza and chatting about the region as the clock ticks past 9 PM. Dinner at Leo’s friend’s house won’t be ready for a couple of hours.

I met Leo several days earlier at a CouchSurfing gathering, and he generously agreed to chat with me after his vacation. The “Havanna” signature drink I ordered is sickly sweet, a large band of condensed milk huddled at the bottom, and it stands untouched as we bounce among topics, from asados to folklórica music to wine. We get to talking about the people of Salta – their origins, customs, and struggles – and I’m captivated by the history. Read more...

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A Packing List for Argentina

I’ve had this topic stewing since well before I left for Argentina, but I decided to take the trip and analyze the packing list afterward to provide details on what worked well, what didn’t, what was lacking, and what was just adding to the strain on my endoskeleton.

When I prepare for a trip, whether I’m flying to San Francisco for the weekend or Europe for six weeks, I try to fit everything into the same two bags. This means that while I’m not exactly a disciple of the one bag travel philosophy (or Rolf Potts’ no baggage challenge) I’m also not pulling a baggage train behind me. Read more...

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Argentine Pesos and Centavos

The time after a trip is filled with all kinds of denouement. Of particular importance to most travelers, especially those who are self-employed and need to file accurate taxes, is the health of the travel budget. Of course, if you’re looking at your budget for the first time after the trip, you’re probably not going to be happy. You might regret the week-long string of five-star steak dinners or buying that section of the vineyard that 10 years from now will yield your namesake wine.

During my month in Argentina I found a daily reconciliation of expenses to be a critical 10-minute exercise. In fact, this practice coupled with some useful tools helped me stay on budget to the tune of spending 87% of the $3,500 allotted for this trip. Tips, tactics, and breakdown below. Read more...

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Death by street-crossing

Argentina is not out to get you.

Sure, it’s possible to freeze to death on a glaciated ice plain in Tierra del Fuego or die of thirst wandering the blistering Puna highlands. Of course there’s the chance you’ll startle a napping Yarará pit viper or catch a pouncing Puma to the side of the face near Iguazú Falls. As a whole, though, Argentina’s a pretty hospitable place for people. There are plentiful farmlands filled with walking barbeques (i.e., cattle), gorgeous mountain communities, and pleasant coastline.

Lest you think the forest animals serenade you awake each morning, however, you should know there are some very real dangers to the visitor. After spending a month in the streets of Buenos Aires and Salta, I’ve faced each several deadly challenges on numerous occasions and lived to share my survival secrets. Don’t place yourself in unnecessary peril – read on! Read more...

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Salta's Plaza 9 de Julio

It’s hard to believe my month in Argentina has come and gone. Seems like just yesterday I wrote a post thinking through my options, and now I’m writing a post-mortem for the trip.

My month in Salta (with a few days in Buenos Aires) was an intense learning experience filled with many challenges. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the trip: I met incredible people, ate delicious meals, and experienced unique cultural events on a near-daily basis. But this first trip of Traveling Savage will be remembered as the journey that tested my solo travel resolve, mental toughness, and ingenuity, and the one that set the bar and measuring stick by which future trips will be devised and judged.

I’ve distilled a few overarching observations from the month abroad below. Read more...

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