Gauchos

Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
1
24
28
Trip End Mar 31, 2008


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Gauchos

This week is Semana Santa (Holy Week) which is now officially called Semana Turistico in Uruguay. It is still, nevertheless, a major holiday, with many stores and offices closed for the whole week. As I write it is Good Friday around 1:50 p.m. and outside not a soul can be seen. It is the quietest it has ever been here, even the local bar/restaurant, which is usually open (and full) until 2 am every day, has been closed since Wednesday.

We were aware of the role gauchos had played in the development of both Argentina and Uruguay. As herders of the vast numbers of cattle that developed on both sides of the River Plate they were a major contributor to the wealth that developed from the supplying of beef to both Europe and North America as those human populations grew rapidly in the 19th century. The gauchos, of course, saw little of that wealth. They are still a major romantic element in today's folklore and myth in society here. We attended the big fair/rodeo which is held annually in Semana Santa in Montevideo. Gauchos from all over Uruguay attend. Unlike other rodeos there are no bulls, or calf roping events. It is purely a display of horse riding skills on bucking broncos. There are two events. One with saddles but no stirrups on the horses and one without, just a rope around the horse´s neck. The main attraction for us was to see the gauchos, proudly wearing their gaucho 'uniform', strolling the grounds between the events. I must say they looked good!
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