At the Ranch with Cowboy Enrique

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

My interest in the culture of the gauchos (cowboys) started when we visited the festival in San Antonio de Areco, and the fascination grew through 2 months of consuming our way through Argentina’s steak-loving, wine-drinking culture. The barbecue itself, as an event, was continually referred to as a rite of passage not to be missed. When we finally got our visit to an estancia (ranch), I had high hopes for partaking in the scenery, horseriding, and of course, the eating.

Here’s a run down of our 24 hours as tourists on a ranch with Cowboy Enrique of Sayta Cabalgatas (cabalgatas = horseriding).

Photo of Enrique from Sayta Cabalgatas

8:00 am – Don’t Fence Me In. After a few days in cars, buses, and cities, we head out of town to the ranch in Chicoana, just 20 miles outside of Salta, in Northwest Argentina.

9:00 am – Meeting our Pardners. Upon arrival, we get our first glimpse of Cowboy Enrique, self proclaimed as “famoso”, and rightly so. What a personality! He continually cracks jokes (not always the most refined humor, but what cowboy is?), and he immediately makes us feel welcome. Breakfast is served outdoors, where we meet our fellow “cowboys”. It’s a diverse group, among which is Annie, the movie costume buyer (one of those cool People You Meet), the Oxford boys on a 6 month trip culminating in intensive training at a Chinese Shaolin temple, and a couple of Austrians and Argentines to round it out.

11:00 am – Back in the Saddle Again. The highlight for me is the gallop! We find an empty stretch of country road, and one by one the guides help coax our horses up to full speed ahead. I have ridden a few times before and never gotten to such a speed – maybe not impressive to some, but I’m just a pretend cowgirl so it is new for me. Exhilirating, and more comfortable than a trot!

Joe navigating the tobacco fields

2:00 pm – Asado Time! Although asado literally translates to “barbecue”, for Enrique (and many Argentines), it actually translates to “grill, drink, eat meat, linger, eat, drink”. As our host, Cowboy Enrique cooks up a great meal, and keeps the wine flowing. He actually gets the wine directly from a group of Franciscan monks.

4:00 pm – A Sigh. Joe and I opt out of the afternoon ride and leisurely play horseshoes, chess, and chase frogs. Joe even finds some local boys who let him join in on their soccer game. We practice Spanish with Enrique, and of course he readily pours more wine.

11:00 pm – Cowboy’s Dream. After a light dinner, we retire to Enrique’s old bedroom, where we sleep. The walls are lined with his half-dozen pairs of cowboy boots, charming old photos and more cowboy memorabilia.

8:00 am – Bye and Bye. A morning rain convinces us its time to head back to town, so we venture back to town via the flooded roads (some 3 feet deep).

Check out the rest of the photos from our Day at the Ranch.

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