We had the vacation of our lives in "Salta the Beautiful." We went for our summer, their winter. I went for Spanish language immersion. But calling this language immersion is like comparing a Catholic sprinkling to a Baptist dunking and calling them both Baptisms. Salta is in the Northwest corner of Argentina. When you look at the picture books for Argentina you will see the glaciers, the water fall, and then many more photos of the beautiful and multi-colored mountains and lands: these are all within a day trip by car. We hired Judy, a local guide who spoke little English but had a car and knew the sites. (By the way, you can hire a guide with a car for four for about the same money as one ticket on the excursions the tourist agencies offer). We rented a house and used the neighborhood store as if it was a pantry. My wife enjoyed tennis lessons every day, massages and pedicures, all for the equivalent of just a few dollars each. It was time to be pampered. We "lived in Salta" through the week and became tourists on the weekends.
We found very few people who spoke English. Only in the hotels and best restaurants will you find English speakers. Many of the tour agencies did not even have the language.
Food was very good, but there is little variety. Yes, the steak is excellent. It wasn't free, but came close. Six adults in the finest private club / restaurant in the city, steaks and seafood, wines and bottled water, a big tip for the waiter and staff all came to about $US 41.
Salta has some of the most beautiful churches in the world, including the famous San Francisco church and the Salta Cathedral. The people are very religious. We felt safe letting the children play outside with any child who came down the street; or taking a taxi or bus at any time of the day or night; to go anyplace in the city.
Salta is two hours by plane and 24 hours by car from Buenos Aries. People who go there tend to stay long enough so that the very low cost of living offsets the high airfare.
The only problems we had were in two distinct areas and these were not as bad as we would have found in most Latin American cities. First, it seemed we were regularly running into signs that things were broken: unlike other places they did get fixed, just not with the speed I have come to expect in the heart of a major US City. Second were the afternoon naps: most businesses and professional offices DO close around 12:30 for lunch at home and a nap, then reopen between 4:30 and 5:00 and stay open until 8 or 9 pm. There is little choice but to live this life. Even the taxis take off, they don't expect us to be out there trying to go to someplace closed.