La Chaya


Sand, flour, mud, meat, paint, and wine.
What more could you need?

On my first day in La Rioja, Argentina - Sunday March 1 - I got to experienced the deadly combination of the six substances listed above. The chaos is called La Chaya and it happens only in La Rioja.

Actually, it's not accurate to associate meat with La Chaya, because there's meat everywhere. Just a few hours after I arrived in my new Argentine home I was at a table covered with heaping plates of beef and sausage. (Every Sunday Argentines eat asado - a sort of barbecue on steroids. Some 20 family members and friends come over to eat and chat for the entire afternoon). Anyway, I stuffed my face with the best meat I ever tasted and then fell asleep instantly, as is the Argentine custom. When I woke up - or rather when some friends dragged me out of bed - we went into the streets for the Chaya.

The Chaya is a summer festival that lasts most of February. People gather in the streets armed with garden hoses, buckets of water, sand, paint, handfuls of mud, and flour, and something like a food fight ensues. In less than 30 seconds you will be filthy, but so is everyone else so it doesn't matter. Everyone drinks heartily and you can just walk up to any stranger holding a big cup of wine to have a sip. Big grills on the sidewalk are cooking up cow heads. I actually ate brain of cow on bread. Either huge speakers or live bands will fill the streets with folklore - fun upbeat guitar music. Admittedly, I couldn't understand half of what was said to me, but I had a damn good time.

Oh yeah, at dusk they blow up scarecrows. Like, they actually blow them up with explosives.

after la chaya

. . . . . asado


  1. It's good to know that while us New Jersey Surbanites are trapped in the cold, ugly, and unwelcoming you are having all the fun enjoying Argentinian bovine pleasure