Cachi is a small town in Valle Calchaquí, in northwestern Argentina, known for its adobe houses and white colonial buildings. It is a renowned tourist destination , as its natural and artisanal beauty invites thousands of tourists to stroll through its streets every year. In the center is Iglesia San José, a spanish colonial church. Nearby is the Archaeological Museum of Cachi Pío PabloDías , which exhibits artifacts that were found in local excavations, some of 10,000 years old. ntilde; os of antiquity.
At 2,280 m.a.s.l. Cachi presents himself before the traveler with a legend on a humble adobe wall:
“ Dear Mr. Tourist this little corner of the Calchaquí Valley welcomes you, wishing you a happy stay. If fate guides its steps towards this town, we take the opportunity to cordially invite you to discover the poetry hidden in its old mansions and streets, where time is asleep. Please try not to wake him up...”
In the northwest , there are n the mountains of Nevado de Cachi, whose tops are covered with snow and can be seen from the city. With all this natural beauty, Cachi hosts one of the key agricultural activities for the NOA. In addition, there are ancestral knowledge and historical practices that are carried out to this day.
Sleeping in the sun
From May the landscape of the Calchaquíes Valleys changes colour. The villagers dye the ruby fields following an ancient tradition of drying the production of peppers in the sun. From the route and for those who do not know the practice , this is a strange phenomenon. Since you can see infinite rows of a strong and striking red . But, luckily, they're not aliens or any paranormal phenomenon. In fact, this is one of the most common procedures for Salta society. Between the medium of such radiant color, farmers are spreading the result of their work on the ground with their rakes. This drying procedure is done in order to lose more than 80% of the water and thus be able to make the best sweet paprika in Argentina.
Continue with production
About 130 small producers work every day to dry the pepper, which can take a fortnight and start again. They produce between 1200 and 1400 kilos per hectare, although 900 is a good average. Once ready and dry , they are loaded into bags that happens to find a truck to move them to Salta, where the mills turn them into paprika.
From the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), the accounts fix more figures, such as the production of 800,000 kilos of paprika pepper in Argentina. Or the five million that Argentines consume, given that 20 percent of the pepper is destined to the food industry and the rest is handcrafted. 70 percent of what is produced, dry, is sold to fidders.
A thousand families
Throughout Salta there are a thousand families who are dedicated to this activity that is distributed on a map that covers Cafayate, Cachi, Molinos and San Carlos Angastaco. Between February and April, 90 percent of the fruit is sun-dried on the typical natural terraces that form the stone slopes.
Some Salteñas agencies propose the “Pepper tour” or the “Red Tour” in which since March visitors know about the magic of the harvest and the flavors that originate from the heights. Taking a bag of this paprika home is treasure a little bit of the valleys in the kitchen. In addition, it is the key to salteñas empanadas.
And you... Have you ever seen the Calchaquis Valleys painted red?
Argentina, nacida en Córdoba. Investigadora en el área de lingüística. En formación constante sobre las Letras y sobre la vida, gracias a la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. Mis experiencias en viajes me llevaron a aprender cada vez más idiomas y querer conocer diversas culturas desde adentro. Pienso en la escritura como una herramienta para transformar el mundo y volverlo un espacio justo y equilibrado.