LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 28
Page. 44- 49
By: Julia Carara
Pictures: Nestor Paz
The translucent green shades hovering in the air of La Cumbre, perfumed with the fragrance of the "Chiltas", (small yellow flowers bowing in the wind), captivated Manuel Mujica Lainez' heart at first sight. Without any nostalgia for the city bustle of Buenos Aires, he set
up his headquarters, El Paraíso, and settled there for good. This novelist often said how this place was his source of inspiration and peace. A community of writers, artists and bon vivants in general gradually started to take over the region.
There are amazing houses bordering the Golf Club. In addition to the natural landscape, La Cumbre also has its own history. Originally named Hacienda de San Francisco del Valle de Punilla and later Estancia
nimo, it formed part of the grant that Captain Bartolome Jaime received in 1585 from the governor of Cordoba province, Don Juan Burgos. At
the end of last century, with the construction of the railroad which joined Cosquin with Cruz del Eje, arrived a wave of English immigrant railroad workers who fell in love with the place, just as Muj ica Lainez would years later, and never returned to Great Britain. It
was they who were responsible for introducing very British customs, such as golf and 5 o'clock tea.
As soon as we arrived, we checked into the traditional hotel La Cumbre and had breakfast with the best guide in the region, Francisco (Pinocho) Capdevila, son of the 5th generation of descendents of the first founders. We climbed into our comfortable Renault, ready to begin our adventure.
Our first stop was at the Golf Club, founded in 1924 by the most senior railraod staff; it is a sample of the exquisite British taste. Bordering the golf course towards the East, we took Route E-66 leading to Ascochinga, a tract of the international rally, an annual event in Cordoba. We travelled 5 km through the Sierras Chicas mountain range, and passed the Estancia El Rosario (where the renowned alfajores and jams are made). Further on, less the 2 km ahead, to the left, we came upon the San Jeronimo Dam, which supplies the city with water. Fifty metres from the Dam we carne upon the Cherry Farm, an ideal restaurant to relax and enjoy the privileged view. One sits at the dainry tables of the Cherry admiring the overwhelming natural scenery whilst appreciating the delicious home made food prepared by the hostess/owner, Julieta Newton Stapler, a pioneer in the region.
After lunch we continued our joumey through San Martin Ave to Route 38. Heading North we reached a lavender plantation and the Domaine de Puberclcrire distillery. A must: to stop and watch the sunset over
the golden fields. Following Route 38 until the crossing with Route 7 you can see the sign which indicates the San Francisco berries plantation which was started by the Bressans.
On the same Route we discovered the La Loma Museum, an old residence built between 1919 and 1933 which is now used as an art school, concert
and conference hall. Originally owned by the Majoral family, it is an inevitbale meeting place for local artists. Changing scenery we headed towards the heart of Los Cocos, and were confronted with a
confluence of diverse sryles expressed by the characteristic circuit of the cablecar, the train, and Tatu Carreta Zoo.
We abandoned the noise and entered the peace and quiet of Cruz Grande and Cruz Chica, a region chosen by the British community and high society as a permament summer resort in the golden days. We visited the Pearsons at the Reydon Hotel. Roy and Sheila, the owners, maintain the comfort of the 20's, when it was first opened. With two hectares
of land, tennis amd croquet courses, it is a classic chosen by many British diplomats. On Bartolome Jaime Ave one can't help but admire El Paraíso, the house belonging to writer Manuel Mujica Lainez, which
is now open as a musuem. The gardens designed by Carlos Thays are a worthwhile sight. Further on comes the gastronomical prize: the smokehouse of La Cumbre has a creator -a gourmet chemist- for an owner: Alby Diner. The following day, excited at the prospect of going para- sailing, we went to Cuchi Corral, but the wind was of no help, so we had to settle for a picnic at the famous "mirador" which is used as take-off runway for the intrepid souls who practice this sport. How to get there? You take Route 38 towards the West, then a pebble road will lead you across a gate over a stream. Once you're there
the road opens toward the right.
You must continue until you cross yet another gate, and then ahnost immediately you will see the Mirador, a breathtaking drop of 400 metres over the valley which crosses Pinto River. The view comes to an end
with the Cruz del Eje dam. Once again on board the car, we continued on Route 38, this time heading South, to La Falda dam. This dam with its 17 falls has been turned into a camping site where it is possible
to go trekking through the woods and climb the hills for a panoramic picture of La Falda. Another attraction is the rundown Eden Hotel, a sample of European esthetics and past splendour. It is thrilling to think that one of its 100 rooms, was slept in by Albert Einstein
or Ruben Dario. But today, the old Eden Hotel, is one of the few standing reminders of the nobility of the past. Another sight to see is the residential neighbourhood of Villa Eden, filled with grand old houses and trees, as well as the mini train museum, set up by Werner Dura, a German genius who invented the first electric car. This man set up an enormous maquette in his own sitting room, representing the history and evolution of the train. The museum is now run by his daughter Isabel. We suggest you end the tour with a super tea at Salzburgo.
We dedicated another day to Villa Giardino. Once more we took Route 38, from La Cumbre heading South. There are 9 km leading to La Villa, as tidy and clean a town as any you can find in Switzerland. Ugolino Giardino and his wife, Juana Micono, the founders, would be proud to see the results of their efforts. If you decide to visit the town, don't leave out a tour of all the small chapels there are to see,
including the holy grounds dating back to the 18th Century, and the Nuestra Señora de la Merced chapel (1770) at the end of San Martin Ave. At noon we left the church to attend another less spiritual call,
more precisely lunch at the Altos de San Pedro Hotel, the original estancia of the Giardino family: 1200 hectares filled with oaks, cork oaks, and acorns. Somewhat drained the following day, we nevertheless
continued our tour, this time through an ecological village, "el camino de los artesanos", created by a group of artisans who tired of the smog and noise of the city, decided to settle here. There is no competition among producers, their aim is to set up an economy on a small complementary scale. They make clothes and ornaments, jams, liqueurs, and organic
food. Revitalised by the landscape and so many stories to recall, we returned to our starting point in La Cumbre. It was hard to leave. I am certain that the charm of the place will stay with me for a long, long time.