Tag Archives: estancia

Photos of Estancia El Ombú de Areco

8 Aug

The quincho

This is the barbecue area, where the magic happens.

The dirt path leading up to the main house

The front view (but really the back side) of the house.

Serenaded with guitar and singing by the gaucho

After lunch, the old gaucho played guitar and sang love songs.

Non-violent horse taming

After the singing, a demonstration of non-violent horse taming.


Día de Campo at Estancia El Ombú de Areco

7 Aug

El Ombu de Areco, San Antonio de Areco

Today I finally took advantage of a prize I won back in December and went for a day at an estancia in San Antonio de Areco. Really, the award had expired after three months, but the manager of Estancia El Ombú de Areco was kind enough to let me take advantage of it. The day was for two people, so I treated my English housemate Rory to the trip. Rory is in Buenos Aires for a couple of months doing volunteer/party work, and hadn’t yet gone into the countryside. We got pretty lucky with a nice day, and the temperature was said to get up to 15 or 16 degrees Celsius.

We left the apartment early in the morning, walking to Retiro to catch a 9:50 am bus. We got there after it was sold out and had to wait for the 10:25, so while we sat around I drank mate and Rory had a croissant and coffee. For our round trip tickets we paid $52 pesos with Chevallier. Once the two hour bus trip was complete and we arrived to the outpost bus stop, we quickly got into a remise (private taxi compay) for $35 and headed to the estancia. The festivities started at 11 am, so we showed up fashionably late, let’s say.

Gaucho horse taming

We were given a quick tour of the facilities, which included a pool (out of use for the winter), a living room with a pool table and fireplace, dining room, and stable area where you could sit and enjoy a fried empanada and welcome drink. Rory read a bit while I walked around taking pictures and enjoying the peace and quiet of the country. No cars or horns, and only the sounds of birds and animals which sound so foreign after spending too long in a city. The last time I got into the country was in June.

Lunch was a smorgasbord of meat, with pork, chicken, ribs, steak and sausage. However, we also did a good job on potatoes, coleslaw, salad and bread. I knew from experience to save room for the steak, but put the food to good use and kept my plate clean. It left me feeling a bit puffy after the bottle of wine we killed as well, but it was a challenge worth meeting. Besides, once the gaucho came out with dessert and played guitar and sang love songs, I wasn’t focusing on my stomach.

We were led to the yard where a horse taming demonstration was given, which I saw before in June at Estancia La Bamba de Areco. It’s amazing to see the cowboys get the horses to do whatever they want and without using violence or shouting. This time around I got some photos and videos, which I’ll mix into a video later on. The group of visitors was saddled up and we went for a lengthy horseback ride around the property and to a river, when we started to head back as it got chillier. My horse had a mind of its own and I don’t think it appreciated it when I called it “fatty”, so he sped off faster than I’ve ever been on a horse. After the half a bottle of wine I was holding on for dear life. I’m not sure if drinking and horseback riding is illegal, but it’s definitely not recommended.

We had to get our bus back to the city at 5:25 pm, so unfortunately couldn’t stay any longer once we made it back to the main house. Even though the pampas are fairly boring open plains, it’s a breath of fresh air, and I always enjoy getting out of the city for an afternoon. Maybe when my friends from Ecuador arrive in a week or so we’ll head out again.

The patio area

Saturday at the Agricultural Fair

1 Aug

My plan for Saturday had been to go to Estancia El Ombú de Areco in the pampas, but heavy rains on Friday changed my mind. I know from experience that even if it’s a nice day, rains from earlier in the week can ruin a day in the country. As a result, I rescheduled the estancia for next Saturday. Instead, I was offered tickets to the Rural Society’s 134th Agricultural Exhibition, which is being held in Palermo until Tuesday. The last couple of weeks have been abuzz with this fair, which is one of the most important in the country. As an agronomic-based culture, Argentina loves its livestock, and this fair promises to award the best in the nation and display over 4,000 animals.

Even with a late start on the day, we rode the bus through traffic on the bright, sunny afternoon up to Palermo. We got there just in time however, because while the crowd was already large, we got in quickly. As we left later on, the line wrapped down around the block and walking though people was difficult. While agricultural fairs are interesting for a short while, a “city boy” like myself can only look at a giant tractor for so long before losing interest. My main goal of the event was to get a nice steak sandwich, assuming I couldn’t just pick out my own cow.

Large amounts of people waiting by a rodeo ring tricked us into wasting about 10 minutes, hoping for something big to happen, but finally we realized it was a lost cause, so we moved on. There was a warehouse with horses, some proudly displaying their awards for best in show, others not quite so proud. Another warehouse held the chickens, another with pigs, and another with bovines. The most striking thing about the event was how commercialized it was. You couldn’t take two steps without seeing an advertisement or waving flag for Ford or Toyota. But that comes with the territory.

When I lived in Palermo I had a view of the Rural Society from my balcony and was always trying to figure out why they had a huge empty lot that looked like a daisy cutter had cleared it out. I finally figured it out when I saw the 4×4 truck obstacle course set up. Guests were able to wait in line (a long, long line) and get a ride with a professional driver going up extreme inclines and over shaky log see-saws. The rain from the day before added a nice touch to the course. We watched for a while but had no intentions of going for a ride. Steak was on our minds.

We did finally pick a spot out of the so many available options, though I was sort of disappointed with the prices. I expect that if you pay a ticket price for a fair, you should get cheaper meat inside, if you can’t get free samples. All the ticket gave was the right to be gauged, and a small bife de chorizo sandwich ran me $20 pesos. It wasn’t a bad sandwich, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had either. Ultimately, I wasn’t satisfied and needed something else. Some provinces had set up stands with information on touristic things, so we quickly checked out the Chubut and Salta stalls. Immediately after leaving we ran into the cheese and meat stands, where I was happily satiated.

Samples, though small and not overly generous of cheese and deli meet were given out by women screaming that we should take advantage of the good deals and buy something. We walked around to a few stands sampling and hearing the same thing before I gave in and bought a strudel filled with dulce de leche for $6. It was worth it. Our last stop at the bovine stand got me up close with the brahman cows, a breed I’ve never seen before. I think it’s one of the oddest looking species I’ve ever seen. With a head similar to a dog or donkey, a large hump by the back like a camel, and the body of a bull, these large beasts seem docile enough, though I wouldn’t want to get on their bad side.

Tons of gauchos were sitting around sipping mate or tending to the animals, and for the time, they run this section of Buenos Aires. We only needed to stay for a couple of hours to get our agro-fill for a couple of years, and while they brought us the farm this week, next week I’ll be going to the country.

Back to San Antonio de Areco

3 Jun

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.