Yesterday the office celebrated the anniversary of the founding of the company by heading to the town of San Antonio de Areco in the province of Buenos Aires. The town is about 1 ½ hours northwest of the city and is the typical image of a pampas-gaucho town. I toured the town in March when my friends were visiting, though that day was sort of uneventful. We got a late start, ate a slow lunch, walked to the bridge, and then drank a few beers in front of a tienda while playing cards. It was still a fun day out of the city, but we didn’t really do much to enjoy what makes the town special.
This time, however, I was with a travel agency, so obviously more inclusive activities were planned. We all headed to La Bamba de Areco, a beautiful estancia that was just recently renovated and upgraded. This estancia was the first one in Argentina to receive tourism in the 1980s and in a sense paved the way for estancia trips. A French family bought it and has put the money in to make it a truly high end destination but still maintains its simple and relaxing atmosphere. Actually, if you’ve ever seen those billboards that rotate advertisements, then you should know that this estancia is owned by the Frenchman, J. C. Decaux, who invented the product.
Anyway, we were greeted by the entire staff as we got off the bus and then given a tour of the facilities. A new pulpería, or general store, seemed like an excellent place to relax in front of the fireplace on a cold autumn day. All throughout the facilities you find beautiful photography and homey designs. After our tour we were given some appetizers and then led over to a picnic table on the lawn for an asado lunch. Unfortunately I made the mistake of filling up on croissants on the bus ride in and had no appetite, but I took advantage of the feast and ate what I could.
As dessert was served, a gaucho gently sang and played guitar, and even a few co-workers joined in. Once the meal was over we were led to chairs on another section of the lawn where a gaucho performed horse whispering. He literally just whispered into the ear of the horse and it would do as he commanded. The gaucho stood upright on the horse, moved its legs apart at will, and got it to lie down effortlessly. I’ve never seen anything like it before. To wrap up the trip to the estancia, a few of us went horseback riding around the property under a blue sky on a perfect, crisp autumn day. Before going back to the city we stopped into a café in town for some coffee and dessert, though I was far too stuffed to eat anything. There’s a certain ease and peace in San Antonio de Areco that I felt back in March and noticed again yesterday. Even when there’s a lot of traffic, it’s only 4 cars driving slowly down the main road in the center of town. That small town vibe is a welcome relief after being in the city for too long. The next time I go back I’ll have to visit one of the museums in town.