Falling in Love with a Gaucho in Argentina

April 7, 2011 No Comments

I have always had a crush on the gauchos of Argentina.  The image of wide open Pampas, patrolled by the soulful and melancholy cowboys was alluring to me.  It was a dream of mine to go there one day.  Shortly after arriving in Buenos Aires, I booked a weekend at an estancia and was off to fulfill my dreams of riding with the gauchos.

Soon the city highways gave way to country roads and towns which transitioned into the endless green horizons that I’d been hoping to see.  The stately estancia house was beautiful with mature hundred year old trees.   Oscar, our guide, was there to meet us.  To my delight, he had that rugged, handsome brown face and bright red cheeks typical to gaucho stereotypes.  His quiet mouth was framed by a drooping mustache and his eyes were overshadowed by brambly brows.   As he slid off his horse he went from upright to 90 degrees, now facing the lawn as he walked, as if inspecting it closely, hunchbacked and bowlegged from years on horseback.  He sang us a song while we lunched and I didn’t think it could get better.  Once I was full of lomo and mate, I saddled up on one of the most beautiful and elegant yet powerful horses I’d seen, a cross between an Arabian and native Argentinian criollo, and trotted into the fields.

Riding horseback in the Pampas wasn’t like your typical nose-to-tail trailride.  We were free to do whatever we wanted, including getting hurled headfirst off our mounts.  I stroked my horse’s mane  and watched as another group of gauchos chased and herded calves for vaccinations.  As the herd switched directions and stampeded towards me, I realized Oscar wasn’t going to help, so my trusty steed and I jumped into a ditch and let the cattle pass.  Up on the other side, I decided to take him out for a gallop to see if his legs could run as magnificently as they suggested.  We were soon flying, the green below a blur, and the smile growing wider and wider on my face.  I slowed down and waited for Oscar to come around.  It was wonderful to have no restraints and wide open fields and skies.

Painting by Kate Rose Johnson

As we trotted, he showed me some unique owls that lived in the earth and taught me more of the horses, their heritage and the special bond a gaucho has with his horse. I’d never ridden such a beautiful horse in such an expansive horizon.   I galloped until I could no longer hold on, and, the next day hardly able to walk, I hopped on again and rode and rode.  If I stayed in the Pampas, I too, would be a hunchbacked princess, which would be ok, as I’d have a hunchback prince of a gaucho!


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