I think if I had flown business class I would equate the trip on the bus from Mendoza to Tucuman with it...Em assures me it´s not but the extra leg room, seats that lie almost flat and airline style meal make the extra NZ$5 or so well worth it!
Tucuman was a kick in the head after the relative tranquility of Mendoza.
As in every town, the area around the bus is desperately impoverished and decrepit, leaving you slightly on edge as you walk into town, although in all honesty and in broad daylight it is probably no less dangerous than walking through the less well heeled suburbs of Auckland. The biggest annoyance could be the interest (male and female) generated by Em - blonde, tall by Sth American standards and of course stunningly beautiful (brownie points? Hopefully I can get off the couch tonight!)
The Sth American men in particular have made an art out of looking a woman up and down, up and down again and then giving a hard stare until it becomes biomechanically impossible or imprudent (because they would fall off their bike!)
Thankfully a disapproving glance from me tends to divert most of them, and again thankfully even little ol´me is much bigger on average than your Argentinian guys - particularly the indigenous Andeans in the North.
Tucuman itself is enigmatic, and not in a good way. She is a scratchy whore by day and a seductive lover at night.
Steaming, bustling, crowded and chaotic she transforms into a tranquil and quite beautiful place at night. A beautiful plaza with wonderfully lit colonial buildings, hundreds of young lovers in the park and great dining could almost convince you to stay...until awoken by the cacaphony of morning....
Our accomodation was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet and it became the nail in the coffin of our respect for that publication. I felt like the sweat of hundreds before was soaking through the threadbare mattress into my very dreams and it was a torrid nights sleep. Hotel Petit will not on our recommended list!
`El Portal´ howevere was a great place to eat and we finally managed to get away from the standard Argie fare of bread and pizza and try Andean fare - Humitas, Tamales (cheese, corn, meat raisins etc all cooked in a corn leaf) and ´locro´ (pork and bean stew in a loaf of crusty bread). Bueno...que rico!