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Lucia and Felix picked us up from the hotel this morning for a tour of the Argentinian pampas near the small town of San Antonio de Areco. The word pampa is Quechua for flatness or flat space – it makes great grazing area for cattle, sheep and horses.

Estancias (ranches) all over the countryside have played an important role in the development of the history, culture and economy of Argentina. Even today, the estancias are responsible for the production of meat and grains that are exported all over the world.

A typical estancia consists of an elegant colonial style mansion surrounded by agricultural fields and grazing areas. Some of the estancias became tourist destinations in the 1960’s

Villa-style main house at Estancia el Ombu
The Ombu tree is probably 200 years old!

In the early years of the formation of Argentina, the unique Gaucho culture developed in these estancias. Gaucho are the Argentine cowboys who were responsible for training the masses of horses left behind by the Spanish invaders. The Gauchos have developed a reputation for being ‘horse whisperers’.

Part of the experience at El Ombu was the opportunity to ride a horse for about half an hour around the fields (or those not so inclined could take a horse-drawn carriage ride instead). It has been many years since either of us have been on horseback but we managed to enjoy the ride!

Horse kisses after the ride

Lunch was an amazing asado barbecue, nice fresh salads and free-flowing wine (of course).

In the barbecue shed – chorizo and blood sausages, pork ribs, chicken, beef steaks…
Just a massive spread of food – pretty sure we ate most of this by ourselves!
Fire closet in the Asado shed. They take meat seriously here!
After the massive lunch there was some folk dancing (and the opportunity to join in on the fun!)
And a demonstration of how the Gaucho train their horses.

From there it was time to head back the 110km into Buenos Aires for a light dinner and rest.

Alas, our adventure has now come to an end. Tomorrow we start the long trek home.

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