By the light of the full moon they dig a hole in an ancient ritual modernised by the regular flash of multiple rich tourist Argentinian cameras.
The hole is for Pachamama: the Earth Goddess.
"You put in what you want the Earth to give you back" says Don Carlos
They light candles and stick them in the bottom, then throw in coca leaves (I do this too, though I would rather throw in a song or a soulmate while we´re at it, but we must make do), cigarettes, a white spirit that makes a blue flame lick the edges of the hole and red red wine. Then they cover it up with dust.
Everyone gets into a truck,4x4, car or motorbike and rides through the dust to the grapes where we must pick pick by hand and by blade as much little blue grape as we can. By only the light of the moon (and some of the stinky truck headlights). My hands are sticky with juice.
3 days later: the product of the harvest now needs to be turned into juice. Best done by teams of women competing against each other for the glory no less. I am put in front of 200 people as the guy from the radio explains that the poor Australian girl is willing to enter but she need a team...as a result (and to prevent a grape squash war) I have to be in two different teams.
So. This is how I find myself at eye level,(Of course I am wearing a skirt) knee deep in a cured cowhide trough, holding onto a pole for dear life while I try my darnedness to squash what will become very expensive wine out of little blueish grapes. The audience laughs at the Aussie girl with no clue. The squeezed juice, theoretically, comes out (no joke) the arsehole of the cowskin into a bucket. But ours, as I learn when I finally finish my first minute, had a blockage, and whilst the other team got two buckets full from their 22 year old amazon competitor, I got about a cup full. damn.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, I was freaking exhausted after 2 go´s.
But Carlos rigged it anyway, so both my teams won our "catergory" (which quite obviously must have been the smallest amount and girls with the least clue).
After we got our prize, then I was made to sing songs in English, into a microphone to 200 people eating empanadas, drinking wine out of refilled coke bottles, standing, surreally, under the shade of about 15 Australian blue gums, about 50 metres away.
I was famous. Small kids had their photograph taken with me. I made the local radio. No one understood a word.
"NOW you can leave. You have left your fingerprint behind in Fiambala." Says Don Carlos.
One sticky, dusty, drunken and guitar sore fingerprint.