Thursday, March 19, 2015


I love exploring metropolises, but there's something about being immersed in nature, completely removed from noise and traffic, that gets me so excited. I prefer the fields, mountains, trails, and rivers over urban sprawl any day. So when the opportunity came to venture out of the city to spend a day at an estancia, a cattle ranch or estate in South America, I was stoked.

After two hours on the road, we were welcomed by two gauchos (Argentine cowboys) on horseback, each proudly bearing the Argentine flag, at the entrance of the estate. La PorteƱa, the name of the estancia, is actually considered a national historic monument. Built in 1822 and standing at almost two centuries old, the estate allows you to feel the history and culture of a life amidst the pampas. I was immediately won over by the peace and quiet. It felt like a whole different world where all your current worries were temporarily lifted and you could just enjoy the vastness of the sprawling estate, take in the acres and acres of beautiful grounds waiting to be explored.

We rode (well-behaved for the most part) horses through the woods, ducking below branches and grazing past tall grasses framing desolate clearings. We took a basket of bread and a bag of dried corn to feed the hungry pigs, adorable calf, peppy roosters, and the single emu racing around. Many selfies were attempted with the one sheep (with the softest fur but the largest appetite) on the ranch until we realized that it was not having it and tried to consume my hair and shirt instead. Three incredibly sweet dogs followed us everywhere we went, completely wild with joy and craving undivided attention.

When it began to drizzle, we took to the barn and played pool and ping pong, even versing an Argentine family. The promise of a delicious outdoor asado lunch (slow-cooked Argentine BBQ) was the only thing that pried us away from continuing to climb trees and swing on rickety wooden swings. To accompany our feast, folk guitarists, singers, and dancers came out and even encouraged us to join in. It was a hot mess attempting to learn how to dance, but we had fun nonetheless.

After lunch, we all found ourselves in this huge open field and played tag like little kids again, dodging holes in the ground and steering clear of poop. By the end, we had attracted a crowd of adults curiously watching us play. We felt so sweaty, tired, and on the verge of throwing up — just the way I remembered my childhood. Things would've gotten way more competitive had the hosts not intervened and told us to sit down and watch  a mesmerizing horse demonstration with the gauchos. It was amazing to see humans have such a strong, respectful connection with these powerful yet incredibly kind and bright-eyed creatures.

Everything about our weekend excursion was so wonderful. We were a bunch of city kids chasing the horizon in the country, careless and free without a single thought crossing our minds on the amount of homework and responsibilities that awaited us back in the city. We departed the ranch after our final goodbyes, sinking into silence as the day's exhaustion washed over our tired bodies, and watched the pink and orange hues streak across the skies with another incredibly warm experience to take with us.


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