rwchilecito-1280In Argentina, they don’t hang about passively waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. The evening of Christmas Eve is when the main festivities take place; or, at least, that’s when the family that owns the posada where we’re staying choose to celebrate. On 24 December each year, they host a Christmas dinner for their family in the posada’s small but delightful gardens, and invited us to join them.

We emerged from our room around 11pm to find a table set for 24 people, booming music (we couldn’t work out whether or not it was seasonal) and a feast of food and wine. At midnight, hugs were exchanged, presents were hastily unwrapped, and fireworks and firecrackers were set off by the assembled children. As the night grew longer, the conversation moved on from Christmas traditions to the Argentine economy and governmental corruption, two favourite topics among locals. We retreated at 2.30am, leaving a party that eventually rolled to a close around 4am.

cristochilecito-1280Chilecito stirs slowly on Christmas Day. At 11am, climbing the 202 steps to the statue of Christ that affords panoramic views over the town and the surrounding valley, we had only idling policemen and the occasional stray dog for company. An hour later in the main square, two businesses were open: the gas station and the ice cream parlour. Just the essentials.

First thing tomorrow, we’ll be back on the road. All being well, we should be in the touristy but apparently delightful town of Cafayate for New Year’s Eve. In the meantime, though, thank you for reading this far, and have a very merry Christmas.

from Chilecito, LR, Argentina