Trip Start Aug 03, 2006
75Trip End Dec 13, 2006
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Where I stayed
Residencial El Hornero
Not having been in Calgary for the last few Stampedes, Tara was quite excited by the idea of spending a few days in San Antonio de Areco, home of the Argentinian gauchos (cowboys).
We liked the town straight away. The streets were lined with orange trees giving the whole town a nice fresh smell. The people there were super-friendly as well. We were constantly being greeted in the streets and asked numerous times what we liked and disliked about Argentina and San Antonio. In one shop, the owner struck up a conversation with us and asked us what we disliked about Argentina. It took us a while to think of something! Tara dislikes the fact that Argentina is causing her to put on weight through its lovely food. Steve dislikes the fact that when you get off a bus, Argentinians seem to have no concept of forming an orderly queue to get their bags from the back and swarm everywhere like locusts, pushing and elbowing people out of the way (little old ladies being the worst offenders)
People seemed genuinely interested in where you were from and why you had chosen to come to their town. They would talk to us even when they had nothing they were trying to sell, which we are not used to. We kept waiting for them to tell us about a trip they ran or a guide they knew! One random guy in the internet cafe even gave us his phone number and told us to drop by his house if we wanted to meet his family...
Our first full day in town was spent looking around a few shops and at the gaucho museum (which wasn't as good as we were hoping). There's a pink bridge over the river that ruins through the town which was a very nice spot to laze around and watch the local kids jumping into the (quite stale and stagnant) water.
The whole point of going to this town is to spend the day at an estancia which is an old ranch house that resembles something you would see in "Gone with the Wind". Our second day in town was spent the Cinacina estancia on the outskirts of town for a day of cowboys and ranch life. We were greeted with homemade empanadas and a few drinks on the lawn
After mingling for a bit we sat on the lawn to watch and listen to some traditional music and watch some dance. After the dancers showed us a few moves we were pulled up one by one to give it a try. Tara was doing quite well until the music stopped where-upon she turned to sit down and almost knocked the girl dancer off her feet.
(Tara: A shame too because, up until then, know one would have ever guessed I was a klutz.)
(Steve: Tara's words, not mine!)
Steve did not step on any toes but didn't seem to be moving his feet all that much so it would have been hard for him to do much serious damage.
After the dance on the grass the bell was rung and it was time for some lunch. We went into the hall to chow down (Steve: Tara's words, not mine!) on our first proper asado (BBQ); they had been slow cooking the meat all morning. We ate what seemed like the whole cow (except the BBQed stomach and morcilla - a blood sausage which we tried but didn't get past the first mouthful. In fact, Steve almost threw up right at the table) and then it was time for some more dancing and a little horse show.
The cowboys put on a carrera de sortija which is essentially a game where a ring is hung from a rope above head height. They then gallop on their horses at full speed and try to poke a stick through the ring and rip it away from where it is hanging
When they finished displaying their skills it was our turn to ride some horses. Steve reluctantly hopped on and his horse was off leading the group. He even got to go faster than the slow amble the rest of the horses stuck to, even with a few kicks and giddy-ups.
The rest of the day was spent sitting in the shade of big willow trees sipping wine and chatting with other tourists (2 from Calgary and 2 from where Tara's grandparents live). Then it was time to head home for a well deserved siesta as our day on the ranch had tired us cowpokes out!
- Stayed at: Residencial El Hornero, San Martin y Moreno, San Antonio de Areco (Tel 02326 452733). Very cheap but still nice with a lovely garden and run by the frailest oldest lady in the world.. Recommended.
- Out for food at: Zarza. Really nice food that's done in a bit of a nicer way than your typical Argentinian restaurants served. Steve a beef stir fry which was great. Recommended.