Ride ´em cowboy

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
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Flag of Argentina  , Central Argentina,
Sunday, November 7, 2010

El Dia del Tradicion - Guacho festival to you and me. A yearly event held in the pretty town of San Antonio de Areco. The guide books declare this week long fiesta a must see and as we have our resident horsewoman Ruby in tow its a must, must do.  Today clashes with Buenos Aires`  Gay Pride march, so we won`t be the only ones with a choice to make.  Funny, several gauchos we meet tell us that all cowboys (but not gauchos) are gay.

Our day gets off to a bad start as the last bus is full. Not to be beaten we storm the Sheraton Hotel and after an expensive coffee and a a couple of trips to the posh loos we manage to hire a car for the day ( Budget donīt rent horses!!) Its a couple of hours ride through gorgeous, flat and endless pampas. Huge  blue skies and shiny wild horses.

San Antonio is a very mellow and pretty town and has been the venue for the Gaucho fest for the last 70 years. As we walk into town the smell of hot horses fills the air. We settle at the tiny plaza and eat empanadas and choripans ( Chorizo sausages on baguettes) and watch the parade. Guacho families from all over the region gather in their fantastic boots, hats and glittering silverwear to strut their stuff and show off their horses and skills.

Gauchos come in all shapes and sizes. Fat portly veterans to young hotties!. Big heeled cowboy boots and no heel suede ugg types.  Bridles and belts made from silver coins, fancy daggers tucked into billowing gaucho pants ( baggy in the leg and cuffed at the ankle). Hats- oversized, ecky-thump berets and spanish style wide brimmed sombreros, silk cravates.  Everything is polished and glowing, blankets are folded to precision. Heads are held high, backs are proud, though this starts to change as more and more beer is drunk.  

Thousands of beautiful horses parade in front of us and the crowds cheer and demand fancy footwork and silky skills. no barriers, security or cordoned off areas as  horses are skilfully charged down the narrow streets and with whistles and bells the Guachos get their horses to perfom reels.   The groups of horses are free, no saddles, bridles or ropes - they simply obey the Gaucho. We sat on the very edge of the street and hot horse tails swish past our noses. Ruby keeps us informed as to breed and type and technical stuff -  I feel she may just spring on to a horse and be carried off by a Gaucho at any minute !!

A beer in the old cantina with locals and tourists and off to a huge show ground for bucking broncos, and more amazing horse skills. We drink beer and eat from the huge fire pit BBQ s Gauchos need a lot of meat and beer as do 4 travellers from Blighty.  The sun crisps us up nicely until we call it a day.  All goes smoothly until we hit Buenos Aires and find ourselves on the wrong side of 8 lanes of traffic.  Cue carnage as we just about make it back to the sheraton in one piece. 
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