There is a moment in every trip when we have to face an ancient dilemma. Is it really necessary to return with souvenirs for everyone from the office? Does that friend who I hardly ever see deserve a fridge magnet from my last trip to Argentina?
Souvenirs are instantly associated with tourism. Let’s face it, we all love to mentally move (at least for a moment) to a distant place only by holding an object some one brought for us.
The Argentine Northwest is a great place for collecting a few material memories or craftworks reflecting the rich local culture through art, clothing or food.
The true challenge is finding a way to stand out from the rest and make our gifts from far away unforgettable for ourselves or a beloved one.
If you visit this region, think about getting a beautiful poncho or tapestry from Seclantás, made by local people who still use their old looms to create these true works of art. Keep an eye and make sure they don’t use vicuña fibres since this animal is a protected species.
Anything to eat or drink is usually a sure shot. The Argentine Northwest is full of delicious options: cane syrup from Tucumán or some tasty, frozen empanadas from Salta ready to bake after a short flight. Wines produced in the Calchaquí Valleys are worldwide famous and you can also find some homebrew beers like Me Echó La Burra in San Carlos. Sweets are a great treat here, too. Colaciones, glazed nuts, quesillo, dulce de leche, cayote or cuaresmillo and alfajores are only some of the delicious options you can find in any souvenir shop. The good thing about this particular region is that it is a journey for all the senses. For those interested in music, it is possible to find handmade quenas, sikus, charangos and guitars in Salta and throughout the Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy.
If you enjoy going for a walk while you find the perfect gift, the Mercado Artesanal in Salta city is a great way to visit a beautiful building from the 1800s and see what the city looks like outside of the centre at the same time. There is a fair on Balcarce street every Sunday afternoon where it is possible to find all kinds of local products and handcrafts and see what the nightlife area of the city looks like during the day. Local fairs are also found around the main squares in Purmamarca, Tilcara, Humahuaca and even Iruya.
Try to enjoy your trip to the fullest but don’t forget about those waiting for you back home. Next time you visit Northern Argentina, make sure you bring back a piece of it with you to enjoy forever… or until your next trip!