On our arrival in Cafayate, one of the local woman (a primary school teacher) whom we met on the bus, helped us to find our hostel. She advised us to rather take a taxi as it was already late and quite a distance to walk with backpacks. We arrived at our hostel, La Casona del Ser, at around 9 pm. The hostel is on the edge of town, with an almost farm feeling to it. The owner of the hostel did not receive our booking via hostelbookers, but fortunately had an empty dorm room available for the night. Although the mattresses were thin, we did not have any other option at that time of the night. We met another couple, Marianna and Max, in the common area of the hostel from Mexico and France and ended up chatting until about 4 am in the morning! Obviously we enjoyed their company a lot 🙂 After that the hard beds didn’t matter at all.
It was great being in a small town again! The next morning we went with M&M to town, where they helped us to book a trip to see the Quebradas de las Conchas near Cafayate (they could speak Spanish). Afterwards, they went a different way as we went to a local restaurant for pizza and a glass of the local Torrontes white wine. The thin crust pizza with a lot of toppings was filling and the white wine was refreshing and definitely worth tasting – very fruity and sweet, almost like a fortified wine. Our Quebradas trip started just after lunch time, so we hurried back to the tour agency where two other people joined us on the trip. One of them was a lady from England, called Hillary, who helped to translate some of the trip as she could speak a little Spanish. The Quebrada de las Conchas nearby Cafayate are fascinating, beautiful rock formations. These formations were formed over years by wind, water and weather while the coloured layers are a result of the exposed minerals in these rocks.
We returned to our hostel just after 7pm. The plan was to have dinner together with Marianna and Max, but we all were so tired after the previous late night, so we stayed at the hostel. The next morning we went on a wine tasting tour visiting Bodega Nanni and Bodega El Transito. We really enjoyed tasting, among others, the different variations of Torrontes wine produced in the region. Some of the Malbec was also good. Nanni was a bit more professional and informative than El Transito, but both had some good wine.
Next on our list was tasting some local food at the municipal local restaurant. Marianna introduced us to goat stew, humitas and tomales. Humitas is basically a mix of maize meal, different spices and cheese, and cooked within fresh corn leaves. Tomales are similar, but combined with meat, less spices and cooked within dry corn leaves. The goat stew and the humitas were both very tasty – a perfect combination of flavours. M&M had to catch a bus to Salta, so had to leave early. We hope to see them again somewhere along the gringo trail.
After our very tasty lunch, we walked to Cabras de Cafayate, the goat´s milk cheese farm approximately 2 km outside town. The road was beautiful, making it a definite worthwhile outing. At the farm they took us on an explanatory tour – from breeding and feeding the goats all the way to how they make the cheese. Some of their goats they imported from South Africa. They concluded the tour with a cheese tasting – they had some really nice cheeses!
After the cheese tasting we stopped at the ice cream shop in order to taste some of the recommended sorbet in Malbec and Tannat flavours. It was good, but it’s like eating frozen wine, so a bit weird. We also went to the Alfajores shop. They have a great selection of Alfajores and they tasted great too – the best we’ve had so far! Even better than those from the Havanna shop…
For our third and last night in La Casona del Ser we were lucky to get a double room with a much better mattress than in the dorm room. The next morning we got a bus to Salta. The owner was so kind as to take us to the bus station in his very antique car 🙂 We had a good laugh on the way to the station – the car is very old, and the boot didn’t close anymore. The owner waited until we were in the bus to wave us goodbye before he went on his way again! 🙂
We enjoyed Cafayate a lot and would love to go back for the friendly small town atmosphere, the Alfajores, the wine, and the beautiful surroundings. The owner of La Casona del Ser was also a special person with a kind and gentle heart, someone who went out of his way to keep his customers happy – a quality not always found in the South American tourist industry. He actually gave us a huge discount for not having a room ready for us on the first night. Sometimes as a tourist in South America one feels so exploited having to pay gringo prices for almost everything, a lot of people trying to talk you into buying things you don’t need or want, people cheating, museum prices being 4 times more for tourists than for locals, etc. Therefore La Casona del Ser really surprised us. We wish the owner well and hope his hostel becomes very popular! We also had a great time with Marianna and Max with whom we would like to spend some more time.
I hope, as a christian, that part of our witness will also be that of gentleness and kindness.
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.