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El Dia de Campo: A Day in the Life of a Gaucho

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During my study abroad program, one of our outings was "El Dia de Campo" (Countryside Day), where we traveled to a local farm to experience the life of a gaucho. In essence, they’re sort of like rustic ranchers who played an important part in forming Argentina into what it is today. It was nice to see life in the countryside, which is quite different from  urban living in Buenos Aires. (Before you leave you might want to grab your mini cross-body, which is dirt-resistant.) On the way there we saw a famous cathedral, although we didn’t have time to go inside.

Once we were settled in, we were treated to a huge asado (Argentine-style barbecue) that consisted of approximately 6 courses and included every kind of meat you could imagine (including tongue, intestines, etc.). I tried the intestines but promptly spit them out (there's only so much one can take). It was all roasted over a spitfire for hours and most of it tasted delicious.

The best part of the day was riding the horses, and it’s surprising that I say that given my experience. You see, when I was younger (about 12 years old), I rode a horse for the first time and had a horrible experience. With my mom and younger brother on one horse, and me on another, I thought I would be fine, even though I was nervous and one of the only children in the group.

However, my mom and brother had to turn back early on because their horse was being unruly. That left me alone with my crazy horse and the other riders, who mostly seemed as inexperienced as me and could offer no tips as I tried desperately to make my horse stay on the trail.

I don't know if the horse wasn't fed or watered or something along those lines, but it kept walking into the lakes to drink (I thought I was going to go swimming at one point) and stomped through the forest where I got scraped by dozens of trees, despite my helmet.

By the time the instructor found me, who was really a last-minute teenage replacement for the real instructor, he blamed me for making the whole tour late. Of course, I started to cry and he seemed to get even more mad. To top it all off, I fell off my horse onto the dusty ground at the end. Yeah, a real great experience. Since then, I have refused to ride horses, but I decided that this would be the day I'd get over my fear of them.

The horses here were very calm and gentle and we leisurely traveled a few blocks around the small town. When someone else's horse kept going down the wrong paths and the instructor had to chase them down, mine just pulled over to the side and ate some grass while we waited.

Surprisingly, it did NOT plow through the forest or try to go for a swim. I was actually shaking the whole time, but I'm really glad I did it. So, even if you haven’t had great luck with horses, or you’ve never ridden one, I’d still recommend giving it a try.

We finished out the day with te con leche (tea with milk), which has become one of my favorite drinks, and were treated to a beautiful sunset. It was a pleasant glimpse into the days of old when ranchers used to rule the world.  

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