You always have to understand the cowboys.
One of the greatest problems for visitors to the
On the other hand
So last weekend we traveled to the Estancia El Ombú just outside San Antonio de Areco, not far from the capital in literal terms—we drove an hour and 45 minutes, and it only takes a half hour to leap the suburbs here—but galaxies away in terrain and life speed. Built in an Italianate style in 1880 (because here even the cowboys are Italian) for famed Indian-killer General Pablo Ricchieri, the place is so ruggedly luxurious it’s almost silly. It combines the prerequisite herd of blue-clad maids, there to get you a drink (or, one suspects, a steak) whenever the urge hits, with a working ranch, wood-smoke redolent rooms, two pools, and ivy crawling over every non-moving surface. It is one fine-looking place.
I suspect the actual gauchos didn’t have it so good. Hell, I don’t have it so good.
Our co-guests included a vaguely drunk and creepy, paunchy, orange-tennis-shirt-clad single 45-year-old guy (but aren’t all vaguely drunk, paunchy, orange-tennis-shirt-clad single 45-year-old guys a little creepy?) who judging from his accent, spoke English as a first language; an American pair of son (studying economics in B.A., which is sort of like studying terrorism in Iraq: We know what it is, but we don’t know how to fix it) and father; an Argentine couple who spent every available moment in the sun with shirts hiked up and paint-waists down, begging the sun on; and a family of Anglo-Argentines, third generation descendents of the English who came to build the railroads 90 years ago and who now speak to each other in tortured English, saying thing like “mummy” and butchering clichés into “…and then rumors started to circle” and “so you can kill two birds with one…shot?” Fabulous and fabulously funny. We rode horses (and I forgot how they piss when they doo--like they've been up all night drinking) and then ate piles of meat. The creepy American knocked off a bottle of red wine while surreptitiously, and weavily, eyeing the other tables, then wobbled off; the American son wore shiny black
From estancia life I don’t think I got to understand the cowboys any better than before, but I certainly got to understand the people who oppressed the cowboys much, much more.