9 de Julio, Salta, Argentina´s beautiful central plaza is abuzz with activity most mornings and late, post-siesta afternoons. Sundays are the glaring exception; a ghost town takes over Salta. Young kids in school uniforms invade every inch of the main square, seemingly all day long though they must be on break. They eat candy and browse the internet on mini laptops courtesy of the plaza´s free wi-fi, blare reggaeton through their phones and tease each other incessantly. Other sounds include the occasional idle of a truck or passing motorist, squeaky bicyclists, quiet chitter chatter from the numerous outdoor cafés and daytime birdsong. The plaza smells like exhaust and pastries, as usual, and sometimes citrus; hundreds of orange trees outline the plaza. To my discontent they are fiercely sour, though perhaps they are premature or just past their prime… I´m hopeful that most of them were, are, or will be wonderful!
Sitting in the sun at one of the numerous outdoor cafés for a late breakfast – café cortado and my Argentine obsession, medialunas (mini crescent croissants) with avocado and cheese – I am approached about 36 times by street vendors eager to hack their innumerable goods. Here´s a list of many of the items for sale as I ate breakfast that morning:
– A quick shoeshine
– Coca leaves
– Angel statues
and Children´s books
A pretty typical, albeit great day in South America.