Why we skipped Uruguay
Trip Start Jan 05, 2011
64Trip End Apr 03, 2011
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The next stage of our journey takes us to the north west of Argentina, to a small village called Chicoana in the region of Salta. It is summer, but intense heat means rain, for 9 months of the year they don't see a drop of rain, but in summer, ie now, the rain is torrential. The road to Cachi Is impassable due to a landslide 2 days ago, which swept away two 4x4's. Bad planning me thinks, however, there is a break on the weather and we have glorious sunshine.
The hotel is lovely, well it should be, we did spend months trawling the Internet researching hotels. It is owned by a couple, Tony who is half French, half English and Roxanne, half Peruvian half Argentinian. They have led very interesting lives, owning an award winning bakery in Toulouse in the 90's before deciding that maybe running a hotel in Argentina was their destiny. They have created a beautiful place, the use of bright colours on the walls is a bold move, but it works so well reflecting colours of flowers in the garden. The garden has lots of terraces with places to sit, a small pool and it's just perfect for relaxing while the children are in the kitchen learning how to make bread and empanada's.
Inside, their taste is impeccable, it's shabby chic without the shabby! The kitchen is simple and functional but has a huge ornate chandelier, in the lounge, they have a mix of traditional French furniture, with modern pieces in bright orange and a pink chandelier, it looks great, Tony and Roxanne are bakers, hoteliers and seemingly interior designers. It is more like staying in a friends house than in a hotel.
The area grows huge amounts of tabacco, just next to the hotel are some smoke houses where they heat the tabacco leaves to dry them. Roxanne takes us to have a look and meet the workers. The leaves are harvested by hand, then transported on trucks to the smoke houses, which youŽll find on all farms. The modern method stack the leaves into metal frames, which are secured with a large metal comb, these are then put on racking in the smoke houses, powered by gas heaters. The traditional method sees them sewing leaves onto wooden stakes, with a machine, but it is still a much slower process. These smoke houses are heated with wood fires. Once the tabacco leaves are dry they are sorted by hand into 5 qualities, they are then bundled and taken to the buyers, who decide the price. It is hard and monotonous work but the indian workers were very happy, laughing and joking all the time we were there, I wonder if they were laughing at us!