Wah. Why does Charlie get easy internet access and not me? I lost a post. I won’t try to recreate it.
It’s a ghost town here at La Vidala. The Fiesta Nacional de Queso is over. The crowds have gone or are on their way out of town. Town being Tafí del Valle. We arrived on Saturday morning after an overnight bus trip from Cordoba, through San Miguel de Tucuman. It was sad leaving Colanchanga. But as I recite every morning: “I give thanks for the journey. I give thanks for the arriving and leaving.”
I really like the location of Tafí. Nestled in a valley, its surrounded by soft green hills, very different from the hills of Colanchanga. The day we arrived it was hot and humid, even here, one place people come to escape the heat of the city. Most likely the city of San Miguel de Tucuman, about 2 hours away. A city we are thankful not to be in, not that it was a consideration. Maybe a short consideration when we checked in on Air b and b and Booking.com to find that places to stay were in short supply and expensive in Tafí.
But we found La Vidala and are happy to be here. We also found out why accommodations are in short supply. The Fiesta referenced above. It started Wednesday and ended this morning around 7 am. What an odd time to end a fiesta, you think, on a Monday morning. They do things differently here.
While the fiesta title focuses on cheese, it’s really a fiesta of Argentine culture. Yes, there is cheese and lots of it being sold in town and on the fairgrounds where the main fiesta is held nightly. The large grounds encompass a rodeo ring, a children’s midway – think rides for the very young ones, lots of cheese stalls, artisans selling homemade goods of woven and crocheted variety, leather items for the vaquero, grilled meat, and did I mention grilled meat? Also fried potatoes, hotdogs, which are called panchos here, beer, wine, and Fernet and Coke.
A word about Fernet and Coke. Fernet branca is ubiquitous. Given the branca, (Portuguese for white and since Brazil is close by…) I thought it would be white/clear. It’s a dark medicinal brown, with that same medicinal flavor. Bitter. We had to try it. Stopped at a stand and asked for one, but said we wanted to try Fernet solo. Surprised looks from the young man and woman. But okay, and they warned us. Then they had a good laugh at my face after trying a sip of Fernet. The way to drink it is with Coke, we were assured, so that’s what we got. Although we were also told that a capful of Fernet straight, after a night of hard drinking and/or too much eating had a healthful effect. At the fair, people carried 2 litre sized bottles of coke, a bottle of Fernet, and plastic cups filled with ice. I wondered if Coke started the Fernet and Coke craze. Or does Coke manufacture Fernet? People are as addicted to it here as folks are married to mate in Uruguay. Fernet, by the way, is a bitter and was originally produced in Milan, Italy as a remedy for cholera. Fernet crossed the ocean with the many Italian immigrants to Argentina. And it is still distilled by Fratelli, not a Coke product.
Back to the fair. We also experienced an Argentine rodeo. Lots of fast riding, roping, and riding a bucking bronc.
I have neve seen so many horses out and about, being ridden and grazing just about anywhere. And leaving massive horse poops just about anywhere, too.
Okay. Why did the fiesta end sometime between 7 and 7:30 am this morning – a Monday morning? I don’t know why. Only that it did. Music starts on the grand escenario at 9 and it don’t stop until the wee, wee, wee hours. As our digs are about 1/8 mile from the event, we were really surprised to awake to music at 6 on Saturday morning and it went until after 7 on this Monday morning. It had been going all night! We stayed until midnight-1 am both Saturday and Sunday.
We enjoyed Saturday night’s music more as it was traditional but updated. Check out Canto 4 if you get the chance. However, it seemed that the Argentine population enjoyed the Sunday night line-up better as they were more traditional. Sergio Galleguillo is especially loved. We enjoyed seeing young and old alike breaking into traditional dance moves on both nights. How I wish I could upload a video. (Another, Why me?!) I tried to send one to Charlie to upload, but that failed as well.
The fiesta also included a parade of carrozas, (floats) each one a celebration of some aspect of Argentine history and/or food. As floats passed the Grand Marshal, participants distributed bits of food related to their float – beef, cheese, bread, or a treat typical of a wedding. Being nosy, er curious, I talked with one woman closely guarding her tray of treats. They were the wedding treats she would hand out when that float passed by. There were 2 sorts: one, a pastry type and the other a bittersweet mix of peach and meat – kind of like mincemeat, but better.
One other noteworthy aspect – the cans of spray soap foam. Kids and adults go crazy with this. Think Silly-String, but in a foamy soap spray that disappears. Although it would take some time for it to disappear on some kids who were absolutely covered in it. Oh, the shrieks and the running wild. It was delightful to behold.
We didn’t realize that this event would be occuring while we were here. In fact, I’d read about it and looked it up on-line, but the dates listed were not the dates of our stay. What a wonderful surprise!
What a great time! Sorry about your lost post – but, geez: it is a ghost town 😉 Nice pics, Paula… I didn’t know Charlie could ride a horse, let alone a bucking bronco!