Friday, May 29, 2009

A Great Day with the Gauchos

On our last day in Buenos Aires, we were taken by Princess Tours out to the Pampas area of Argentina for a barbecue and folkloric show. Pampa is actually Spanish for plain, prairie or grassland which was somehow not what I expected. I thought it would be far more tropical but I kept forgetting that this part of Argentina is approximately the same latitude south of the equator as Los Angeles is to the north—just over 34 degrees. So basically it is a temperate, humid climate perfect for farming and cattle raising.
After almost two hours of driving, we arrived at the beautiful family-owned estancia or ranch where we would spend the day. The lands of this area have been taken care of by the gauchos for centuries, and the region is the centre of their culture, including music and dance. As the bus drove into the parking area, we were met with friendly waves by both handsome gauchos and lovely ladies dressed in native costumes; while the inviting aroma of a variety of meats cooking permeated the air.
Of course, there were Argentina wines—white and red—freely offered to all takers. Argentina is fast becoming as well known as Chile for its excellent merlots and cabernets as well as its signature grape, the malbec; a wine from Mendoza with tones of cherries, plums, blackberries and raspberries, and marked by peppery spice and licorice undertones. They have bright acidity, ideal to cut through the richness of Argentina’s famous red meats and enhance their character.
While we drank our wine or soft drinks and ate tasty empanadas, the gauchos displayed some of their fine rope and horse riding skills. They also offered stage coach rides around part of the estate to view the charming hacienda where the family resides.
Soon we were taken to a roof covered dining area where our delicious meal of barbecued beef, pork, chicken and sausages was served and the folkloric show of a variety of regional music and dances was presented. As in Mexico, each district has its own special dance as well as costume.
After the dinner and show, it was another two hour drive through the flat green countryside, back to the magnificent Hyatt Regency where Princess has billeted us for the four nights. Tired from the fresh air and long drive, we were grateful for our luxurious and comfortable king room in this modern 5-star hotel.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city. With its wide boulevards and gracious architecture, it reminded me a great deal of Paris. In our tour of the city we saw the pink palace with the balcony made famous by President Peron and his vivacious wife, Eva—the famous Evita. Later we were taken to Evita’s final resting place, a mausoleum in the Recoleta Cemetery also reminiscent of French graveyards.
I really enjoyed what I saw of Argentina and would not hesitate to travel back to this land of diversity at the bottom of the Americas.

1 comment:

  1. my sister is heading to Argentine at Christmas, bird watching, I believe... looks like you had a fabulous time!