There are many reasons, we chose to settle in Salta for a while. But really, the answer comes down to one thing.Lately, this question seems to be popping up a lot. Friends, family, people I've met through this blog and even from Saltenos, surprised and happy to meet an American family who seems to love this place almost as much as they do.
We didn't leave New York City just to travel. We left on an open ended journey to find a new place to call home. Along the way, yes, the proverbial travel bug bit, making it very difficult to decide on just one place to settle.
So why, then, Salta?
The weather here is lovely. Never too hot. Never too cold. Salta is a city, big enough to find everything you could possibly want or need. Ok, maybe not maple syrup, but that's a small price to pay to live in such a lovely place. Still, it's small enough not to feel overwhelmed and overcrowded.
There's a well working system of buses. Wifi cafes and local internet make it easy to stay connected to the world outside of Salta, and it has an international airport making it easily accessible from anywhere in South America. As I explore more, I find unique places and people who show me a different way to view the world.
But really, it's the people here that make me want to stay.
People here use a particular figure of speech in response to a Thank You that sums it all up for me. You don't say You're welcome as is the case in English. It's not the French Je vous en prie. And not even the de nada you hear in other Spanish speaking places.
Here, they say Aye, por nada and always said with such warmth and meaning that you truly feel that you are indeed welcome, that whatever has been done for you comes from the heart with no strings and from a a complete and utter generosity of spirit.
When Noah was sick last year, our neighbor, who I barely knew, helped us find medical care. When we needed a place to stay but the apartment we wanted to rent wouldn't be ready for another week, Monica (again) took us into her home for that week while our new landlord, another person we'd just met, stored our stuff and drove us around town making it easy for us to make the transition to our new place.
I feel this open friendliness everywhere I go. From the person behind the counter at the one McDonald's in town to an accidental bumping of arms when walking through the busy Peatonal Alberdi -- one of many pedestrian shopping areas -- in the center of town.
At first, I didn't trust it at all. Fifteen years in New York -- home of the "Hey! Great to see you. I'll give you a call and we'll get together" then you don't get the call, taught me to that words don't mean what they seem.
Salta is helping me unlearn all that. It's a slow process, but I find I am more relaxed, more comfortable with people, less worried about how these social interactions will affect Lila.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the cost of living in Salta is less money and of better quality than just about any other place I've been. There's lots to do and a great school for Lila. All the fruit and vegetables in the market here -- the fabulous mercado municipal on calle Urquiza -- has been locally grown. The wine region here is incredible. Travel just a half an hour by bus, and you'll find some of the most beautiful country I've ever experienced.
Nothing in life is perfect. I'm aware of that, and as easily as I list the positives, I could supply you with a list of negatives as well. Maybe another time. For now, I'll be a bit more Salteño in that respect and not worry so much about what I don't have and what isn't.