We are so far behind!
This post has been sitting in my drafts for far too long. This is what we got up to during the first few weeks in Argentina…
After our brief spell of luxury in Salta, it was back onto big bad Gus and camping for the next 5 nights.
Our first destination was Cafayate, an area renowned for its perfect wine-producing climate. We visited a family-run bodega and tasted delicious organic, sulphite free Malbec; then promptly walked around to the local corner shop and bought 5 litre buckets of cheap red for few pesos each. We’re on a budget here folks!!
The perfect accompaniment for a group BBQ that night under the stars, unfortunately not enough to allow us to sleep through the incessant 2am to 7am thumping coming from the local nightclubs. If we weren’t leaving at dawn we would definitely had cracked and joined them.
The following night was spent in a small town called Redeco, other than a large statue of a goat the town really has nothing going for it whatsoever. Stef, Heather, Paul and I were in charge of dinner that night so we cooked a traditional South African dish called Poki – a stew like dish cooked over an open fire, along with several gallons of mulled wine. We didn’t get much sleep that night either, but at least that was on us!
Gaucho training on the cattle ranch
Another day of driving took us from wine country to cattle country and we arrived at the Estancia, smack bang in the middle of nowhere. We piled off the truck and the owner came out to welcome us. You don’t meet many Argentinians called Kevin, and when he offered us tea *with milk* from a teapot we knew something wasn’t quite right… He spoke the Queen’s English thanks to a Home Counties upbringing and offered us Rich Teas to balance on our saucers.
The Estancia has 6,000 acres of land and is primarily a cattle ranch, with 500 Aberdeen Angus cows being reared organically for meat. The main tourist income comes from running rather posh polo holidays up in the main house. Budget groups like ours however stay out of sight, out of earshot, at the end of the farm camping or in dorm rooms.
We couldn’t believe our luck when Kevin invited us 20-odd grubby backpackers into his home for a cheese and wine tasting evening. Surrounded by antiques and a roaring log fire all was going well until someone mentioned the Falklands and Kevin promptly packed us off to the “games room”, thankfully with a few more bottles of wine.
Overnight the winds blew the majority of the tents down and hung around well into the next day, postponing our horse riding and leaving us to make our own entertainment… Jumping under waterfalls and DIY empanadas.
The collection of prized ornamental rare-breed cockerels (!) woke us up to clear and calm skies, so we jumped in the back of a Hilux and went to meet our horses who eyed us somewhat nervously. The gauchos riding with us were superb though and an hour later we were all galloping across the hills – a first for me.
We ate lunch surrounded by piglets and fluffy calves that we then rounded up as the Gaucho’s taught us to lassoo!
The poor mites seemed quite distressed but apparently allowing themselves to be lassoed guarantees them a life of breeding rather than being turned into steak.
And onto the steak…. As it was our final night Kevin built a huge bonfire and threw a ridiculous BBQ for us. This goes down as one of our best meals in South America.
Copious amounts of food, free-flowing wine, and to top it off I won a bottle of Champagne for being the ‘most improved rider’!
Next stop –> Buenos Aires