Playing Gaucho and Tourist in the Pampas

Just outside of the Buenos Aires megapolis, an area of 13 million inhabitants, the endless apartment buildings disappear. So does the Parisian architecture, the ice cream shops, the fancy stores. It’s all replaced with endless open space, the land of the gauchos. Or at least it used to be. Now it’s not, because as we learned on our “Dia del Campo,” or day trip to an estancia in the pampas, there are no more gauchos in the country. Apparently Argentinian president Sarmiento decided that all the gauchos were lazy good-for-nothings and pretty much killed them all off. Not a nice thing for him to do. But in the end maybe a good business move.

Because as we all know real cowboys don’t really care for city folk, aren’t very civilized, and don’t exactly consider themselves tourist attractions. If they were still roaming the pampas, rounding up (or stealing, depends on who you talk to) cattle and living their freestyling lives, there wouldn’t be a place for bus loads of tourists to go and pretend to be cowboys for a day. And that my friends would be a true shame.

On our BA Free Tour of Recoleta (just as excellent as the Center Tour), our guide Sol asked us what the most touristy thing we’d done in BA was, and I didn’t even have to think two seconds before responding “Dia del Campo.” It involved a tour bus, a guide that spoke into a microphone, a song and dance show, a 20-minute horse ride…

We had wanted to get out of the city and experience a bit of the country life, but we didn’t have the time to go too far from the city or to stay for an extended period on an estancia, so we did what millions of BA tourists do–a day trip to an estancia wehre they pretty much play cowboy. It was cheesy. It was silly. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it. But, you know what? I had fun anyways. The empanadas were delicious. The lunch was abundant. The horses were friendly. The riders were skilled. The other guests were friendly and fun. And watching Jeff and my parents dance (though not together) was just plain awesome.

Jeff Dancing Mom Dancing Dad Dancing

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