Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2007
When I arrived at Estancia los Potreros I was welcomed with open arms, smiling faces, excited dogs, and a much appreciated cold glass of lemonade. It was a little wet with humidity in the air and felt a lot like the Australian climate I was raised in.
I was introduced to the other guests at the estancia and my bags were taken to my room while I sat in the lounge room and mingled with the guests. I always enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. With riding being a common denominator on this sort of a vacation there never seems to be any conflicts of interest. I truly believe that “horse people” are a universal breed and the common interest of horses allows even strangers to have a passionate human connection.
It was evening when I arrived so I was anxious to retire to bed and view the estancia in the daylight.
I awoke to a beautiful misty morning with a slight drizzle of rain in the air. Breakfast was fresh, plentiful and delicious, as were all the meals during my week long stay.
I am blessed enough to be open mined and liberal when it comes to trying new things, reveling in experiencing all aspects of a different and unique culture- food included. I was treated to delicious food at the estancias and was happy to try everything at least once. The blood sausage and Mollejas during an “asado” at Los Potreros were simply scrumptious. Washed down with a Torrentes wine produced by a local winery, the meal was a hit with all guests.
The meals at the estancia were varied. A positive touch was that they were equally conscious of making slight adaptations to cater for international clients while providing authentic Argentine cuisine.
My introductory ride on Simpatica to help the guachos bring in a small herd of young horses was the start of a fantastic week of riding on some very well trained, sweet creatures. All the horses I rode at Los Potreros were gentle and loving with great gaits and confident strides. I had a couple days of estancia based riding to get accustomed with the tack and acquainted with the riding style, before we were heading out for an overnight adventure to “Chiche and Menta’s Cabin”.
All aspects of the overnight trip during my stay at Los Potreros were marvelous. Guests were treated to Peruvian Paso horses, which is a gaited breed of horse. Although the riding was not strenuous or physically challenging, there was two days of long hours in the saddle so the comfortable gait of these horses was a blessing. I had never ridden a gaited horse for an extended period and am pleased to say I savored every moment. I was spoilt by having the most beautiful liver chestnut brood mare named Lobita. Her action was smooth and strong and she had that mare attitude which I personally love.
After a four hour morning ride along the top of the Sierras Chichas we arrived at Chiche and Menta’s house. Friends of the estancias, this brother and sister team have lived off the land all their lives in a simple Argentine dwelling. Our accommodation was a basic cabin set up dorm style. There was no electricity but the beds were comfortable and the nearby waterhole and stream made for a crisp and refreshing bathing spot. The food- well that’s a whole chapter on its own……….
The gauchos and most Argentines eat virtually “every bit inside a cow” exclaims the host. Parts of the cow such as Lomo, Matambre, Mondongo, Mollejas, Huevos, Chinchulinis and Tripa Gourda can be tastefully translated into such parts as throat glands, stomach and …..wait for it- bovine testicles. The latter generally being consumed by gauchos in the corrals while castration is taking place.
I appreciated this educational introduction to the the culinary traditions in this part of the world only slightly less than the rest of my stay at the estancia. With wonderful hosts, fabulous horses and a beautiful setting, this is a riding vacation in Argentina that is sure to please!