11 September 2008

Vacation report: Samay Huasi

Joaquín y Marisa On Sunday, August 31, we decided to visit Samay Huasi (that's Quechua for "house of rest"), a large country residence that belonged to Joaquín V. González. The guy's name was vaguely familiar to me before, but in La Rioja he was everywhere. He was born in Nonogasta, near Chilecito, and he was a deputy, senator, governor, educator, historian, philosopher and writer, besides (rumour has it) an atheist and/or a freemason, and an obsessive gambler — a truly fascinating character.

Samay Huasi is minutes away from Chilecito's city center by taxi. There's a small historical museum, rooms with preserved stuff from Joaquín's time, and plenty of space outdoors for the visitor to wander freely, once the AR$1 admittance fee is paid to the guide.

So we walked around, listening to the noisy wild parrots, among galleries, withered vines, and seemingly decorative olive and almond trees. The heat increased as the morning turned into noon. We came by a big statue of Joaquín in a meditative pose, at the foot of a hill. We took a path up the hill and climbed and climbed until we got tired (which was not that close to the summit, I'm embarrassed to admit). I took some pictures, and then we went down a bit, sought the shade of a boulder, took out our sandwiches, and ate lunch.

Samay Huasi - Panorámica desde el cerro

Coming down the hill wasn't as easy as we'd guessed, but finally, sweating and panting, we returned to the main residence and sat comfortably on a bench in the shade, drank mate and ate cookies and generally attempted to waste as much of our time as possible. The guide had disappeared around siesta time, so nobody looked for us to check what we might be doing. I guess we could've camped somewhere in the fields and stayed for a couple of days.

We had spent a quiet and well-rounded day. We took a deep breath and walked back to Chilecito, 3 or 4 km along the road.

And that was the morning and afternoon of the second day.

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