When you hear the word “gauchos,” you are probably thinking of the style of pants that everyone wore in the ’70s and then again in the ’90s. Think again. Gauchos are Argentine cowboys.
Gauchos are the ones who started the asados, or barbecues as we call them in the United States, where all your friends and family gather for a big meal and quality time with each other. Often times there are soccer matches going on in the yard, with squealing and laughter filling the air. I had the opportunity along with my friends to visit an Argentine ranch and take in the cowboy life of this country.
But first, just outside of the city limits of Buenos Aires, the bus stopped in the small town of Luján. There sits the largest church in all of Argentina, where the Virgin Mary once appeared. It is hard to miss this beautiful Basilica when the rest of the buildings in the town are less than five stories tall. In the courtyard, there were many vendors selling great souvenirs for friends and family.
After our brief stop in Luján, the bus continued for another half hour to the ranch where we spent the rest of the day. Empanadas were shared, accompanied by sodas and water. On the ranch, peacocks roam free around the land. Other animals such as chickens, pigs, ducks and horses also live among the land. At the ranch I was able to ride the horses, which was a fun experience that had been years since I was able to do.
During lunch I learned that Argentine asado consists of all parts of the cow. They don’t leave anything out, and that day the food never stopped being served.
There were about five different courses with all cuts of meat. The meal was very educational because there were several dance performances and a very talented musician. While we were eating, the performer played at least five different instruments and sang songs native to the different regions of the country. We had a taste of all parts of Argentina, but the learning did not stop there.
After the very delicious and filling lunch, everyone headed out to the stadium to watch the horse show. In this horse show, the owners of the ranch explained several activities that the gauchos used to do. There were simple races and some of which involved weaving in and out of poles.
The final show was when the gauchos placed a small circular ribbon, no bigger than a ring, on the bottom of a pole at the finish line and raced to hook the ribbon on the end of a rod they were holding. This show was a representation of how the gauchos won the hearts of the women in the old days. The ribbon signified a ring, and the race was for a woman’s heart. Whichever woman’s ring the cowboy was trying to hook was the woman he would date.
Being out of the city reminded me of home and the wide-open flat fields of North Dakota.