The next day we toured La Rioja. This town and the others we’ve visited have lots of small businesses and very few big ones. Carlos Mayol had told us that if a small business starts to become really profitable, a new tax is instituted in Argentina, thus ensuring that businesses stay small.
We had our laundry done for AP$15/US $5; it has been slightly less in Argentina than in Chile. La Rioja would never be called a rich town. The sidewalks are narrow and not maintained, making walking hazardous. There are big shade trees in La Rioja like there were in Mendoza. It is hot, and because of the recent rain, humid.
Fortunately our hotel room is well air conditioned. It threatened rain all day but didn’t and we decided to go out bicycling during siesta time when the roads would be quiet. We did and it was fine. With the Velasco Mountains nearby, the way out was all uphill and we had a great downhill on the way back. There always seemed to be yellow butterflies around my bike in La Rioja and elsewhere in Northwest Argentina. I really like butterflies.
Our second night we ate at a parrilla (grill) restaurant, La Vieja Casona (Av. Rivadavia 427, La Rioja, fono: 03822 425-996, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). It specializes in regional dishes. Of course we had their special (small sized) parrillada (meat, pork, sweetbreads, kidneys, sausages (blood and chorizo)) and it was huge; we ate too much. On top of all the meat was a big round of the cheese called quesillo, a baked white cheese with oregano. We remembered to tell them not to overly salt the food; it was good. The meal cost AP$85/US $27 with 2 mains, vegetables, French fries, 2 desserts and a good wine from La Rioja region (La Puerta Syrah from Chilecita). Very reasonably priced for such a complete meal.