Federal to me implies a devolved system of governance with multiple centers. There ain’t nothing federal about the air system in Argentina where all routes lead to Buenos Aires. As one of our winery guides in Salta joked, “The president lives in Buenos Aires. The Congress is in Buenos Aires. I think God lives in Buenos Aires.”
Although I awoke in Cafayate, I was to sleep in Mendzoa and travel a circuitous route to get there. The two wine growing areas lie about 1000 miles apart so driving would take all day and then some. Instead we flew all day.
The ride back through the Lerma Valley was more spectacular since the cloud cover had lifted and the rock formations seemed more red, and the hillsides more dynamic with the sun and shadows. It is spectacular and really makes the long and windy drive actually enjoyable.
Despite being the closest Argentine city to Bolivia and Paraguay, the sleepy but surprisingly large Salta airport now only welcomes one airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, and has service to one airport, Buenos Aires (domestic).
The check-in counters of several other private carriers that used to service the airport now were ominously dark. Privatization brought only brief joy to the areaÂs travelers as the return to monopoly now elicits complaints of delays and high prices from the locals.
The flight to Mendoza left only one gate over from the one where we arrived in the clean, new terminal. Back in the air for another two hours only to arrive in Mendoza as light was failing and a rare drizzle was falling.
View this leg on the map.