The magic of winter in N.W. Argentina
The seasons in Argentina are, of course, the reverse of the northern hemisphere, but each have a distinct and charming flavour of their own as you will have seen in our last post.
In winter most days are dry, sunny and warm. They can reach up to 30 degrees celsius with cobalt blue skies, great days for travelling, trekking and all kinds of sports and activities, but days are shorter with eight or nine hours of sunshine and at night temperatures can drop significantly to around -3 degrees.
The vegetation becomes thinner and takes on a brown tinge, offering great opportunities to spot the animals and birds out in the country. The tall verdant green sugar cane plants are harvested and fires can be seen across the vast Estancia, clearing the land in preparation for planting for next year.
Something to warm you up
May 1st is a special day in the culinary life of the area. It is the day when tradition dictates that the first ‘Locro’ of the year is prepared for the family. Locro is a stew made of different cuts of beef, tripe and other parts of cow intestines, chorizo, huge amounts of pumpkin and pulses and is cooked in a huge pan over an open fire for a minimum of six to eight hours. It is a fabulous dish with immense flavours and when shared around the open fire makes one feel that, even for a gringo, being a Gaucho is a real possibility.
Sunday May 21st is the International Day of Museums. This year forty organisations across Salta province joined in the event with – MAAM in Salta city (The Museum Of Archeology of the High Mountains)– putting on a particularly engaging exhibition.
The Gauchos of Guemes
We believe that Salta’s most spectacular winter event is the ‘The Gauchos of Gũemes’ parade on 17th June. It commemorates the great General Martin Miguel de Gũemes who led his Gauchos to victory in the fight for Independence of Argentina from the Spanish.
The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe a “migratory horseman, good with cattle” but other phrases attributed to the qualities of a Gaucho says rather more.. “Noble, brave and generous” but also “One who is skilful in subtle tricks, crafty..” they definitely proved their worth on the battlefield!
The parade of the Gauchos involves around two thousand mounted Gauchos of all ages, in their distinctive red and black outfits taking part in a number of traditional rituals across the city. It is an amazing experience, with great emotion, passion and wonderful scenes only to be found here in Salta.
Visit a local Rodeo
One winter Sunday we visited La Caldera a small town not far from Salta to see a rodeo. There were a range of activities throughout the afternoon with riding of unbroken horses, the greatest challenge.
We grabbed a choripan (hot dog) and a beer and made our way to the performance ring.
With the unsuspecting horse tied to a large pole in the ring, a rider, dressed in traditional Gaucho gear including the beret, acted as guardian to the next brave soul about to climb aboard. Once mounted the rope was quickly released and the wild bucking bronco began. Three seconds seemed about the average ride but the occasional rider hanging on for dear life lasting ten seconds.
Fortunately no-one was injured and the afternoon continued with more beef, beer and wild activity. It was far too exciting to notice the cold and a really worthwhile experience.