The food is excellent. Don’t worry about choosing the right restaurant, just try to eat the simple things. Corn products. Beans. Baked goods such as empanadas. Don’t waste your time on the steak. The food stalls in the Mercado Municipal are a good place to start, and many items there cost fifty cents to a dollar. The “sopa de mani” (peanut soup) is especially good, and almost identical to what you find in Bolivia.
The overall vibe in Salta reminds me of both northern Mexico and the older parts of the American Southwest. And the adjacent parts of Bolivia. It is hot, the cities are surrounded by beautiful scenery, and it still all feels rather wild. Salta is also much safer than Buenos Aires, and you don’t see many beggars here. In B.A. they are now asking for food rather than money.
There’s not much to do in Salta, as the central sights in town are the two mummified remains of young Incan girls in the archaeological museum. They are memorable, as it feels like they are staring right back at you.
Spending time here will cure you of utopianism, and also of pessimism. Whatever issues you might think are really important, most people here really don’t care about them or even know about them.
American brands at the retail level are not to be seen. Nor will you run across Chinese or Indian merchants. Perhaps a Syrian or Lebanese is to be found, but not in any great numbers.
Tyrone is accompanying me, and I asked him what he thinks. As you might expect, he had only stupid rudeness in response. Tyrone said that northern Argentina is the true essence of the Argentinean nation, and that everyone interested in Argentina should visit here. In fact, having visited North Macedonia, he wishes to rename the country South Bolivia — were they not once part of the same Viceroyalty? Is it not enough to share the same soup? Do they not have broadly the same accent, devoid of all that B.A. slurring? Was not the country born here in the north? That is where the decisive battle for national independence was fought and won. Do we not all agree with theories of deep roots? It is not just who moves to your nation, but it is about how and where your nation was founded. And for Argentina that is in the north, and with violence and corruption and economic decline. Tyrone even wishes to hand over the rest of Patagonia to the Chileans, so that Argentina may better recognize its true self.
In the twisted view of Tyrone, the creation of the modernist city of Brasilia was a big success. The real failure, hermetically hidden by some charming Parisian and Barcelona-style architecture, was the attempted modernist outpost of Buenos Aires, an immature and underdeveloped excrudescence from the real nation of chocro, horse saddles and the quebrada. It tricked a few Johnny-come-lately migrants during the early 20th century, and neglected to tell them they still would be ruled by the ideas and the norms of the north.
Imagine thinking that you could govern a nation with high modernism and Freudian psychoanalysis — what folly! And now, Tyrone tells us, we have the Milei revolution, attempting to replace one Viennese modernism — that of Freud — with the Viennese modernist revolution of Mises. Good luck with that one, Tyrone says. What kind of fool would think that the future of South America would be determined by a war across different Viennese modernisms? Those mummified corpses still will rule the day, whether or not the feds balance the budget in the short term. Desiccated ever-young girls are in perpetual deficit, no matter how the daily fiscal accounts may read.
I had to stop Tyrone right then and there, as he was explaining why the current hyperinflation probably was a good thing, as the only path to true dollarization and at least one symbolic unification with North America. Tyrone was shouting that such symbolic unification nonetheless was impossible, and thus the corpses had brought in Milei to restore fiscal sanity and prevent dollarization and thus protect the true Incan and Andean nation.
Such thoughts are not allowed on Marginal Revolution, and so I am now trying to persuade Tyrone to visit Iguassu, in the hope that I can induce him to take a quick swim in those falls…
I hope the rest of you will visit northern Argentina nonetheless, and put all that nonsense aside. The empanadas await you.