A trip to Argentina is not complete without a visit to a gaucho ranch or estancia. Gauchos are considered a folk hero similar to the North American cowboy. They are known for being skilled horsemen and are an important part of Argentina’s past. We spent the afternoon with gauchos in La Estela near El Chaltén.
Gauchos were originally nomadic horsemen and cowhands of the Argentine grasslands or pampas. A typical outfit includes a poncho (not pictured but is used as coat, saddle blanket and for sleeping), a wide beret called a boina, tall leather boots, loose-fitting trousers called bombachas, and a whip called rebenque.
It is said that “a gaucho without a horse is like a man with no legs”.
We had an amazing afternoon at the estancia. It included a traditional meal of sausage and lamb cooked very slowly over a fire. After the meal we had an opportunity to photograph the gauchos in and around the stables.
This gaucho is holding a cup of mate tea (pronounced ma·té). Mate tea is a traditional caffeine-rich drink made from yerba. It is served in a gourd shaped cup and sipped through a “bombilla” a special silver drinking straw. The mate tea is passed around and offered to anyone who would like to take a sip. I was offered a taste later in the trip, gave it a try and liked it.
Splashing in Lago Viedma with Mt. Fitz Roy in the distance.
Loved photographing the gaucho’s racing in the water.
Our photography leaders/guides, Randy Hanna and Cecelia Costa, discussing logistics with the gauchos at the sand dunes.
The horses were flying! They were just beautiful and magnificent beasts!
In this image the gauchos were trying to wrestle each other off their horse. The rider on the black horse won.
By the time the gauchos were done riding, the horses were panting heavily and their coats were glistening with sweat and lather. I really enjoyed the time we spent here. It was a glimpse of a past era.
Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I am dedicating this post to my 84-year-old mother who went horseback riding with the gauchos near Buenos Aires last fall. In her own words - “It took me three tries to get on the horse but with a little help - I made it!” (see sequence below). The little help was a hand on the butt and a little push. :)