Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bulletins From BA #34

Bulletins From BA #34
21 agosto 2014

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert:
  “El Ombú”

Incredibly, A.J. and I are two-thirds through our Argentine posting. Which, of course, means that we need to get cracking if we’re going to complete “The List.” Which, of course, we won’t. But we’re giving it our best shot.

Having invitados (houseguests) helps, since they are less fascinated with where you shop, except for ice cream, and more inclined toward adventurous pursuits. Last week, Anne’s niece and a friend, both students at Tulane University, came to visit. We took to calling them “Las Chicas Guapas” and they were terrific. Once we had set them up with pesos (at an excellent exchange rate), a local cell phone (just in case), bus passes, and a house key, they were off and running, often literally. And we used their visit as an opportunity to at last visit one of the local estancias.

El Ombú de Areco is near San Antonio de Areco, a lovely town and “birthplace of the gaucho tradition.” This estancia is very popular with overnight guests as well as day trippers who come to ride horses and enjoy the al fresco lunchtime asado (Argentine barbeque). We had perfect spring weather for our stay: Fine and dry with highs around 24 C (75 F). Unsettlingly warm for the dead of winter, but absolutely delightful.

[Sidebar - El sitio web de estancia ( es muy informativo.]

Horseback riding figures prominently at El Ombú, which is tricky for me, as I am supremely uncomfortable in the saddle. Fortunately, I drew a large, muy tranquilo beast who knew exactly where to go and was wholly indifferent to my attempts to exercise any semblance of authority. An understanding thus reached, we enjoyed a long and perfectly picturesque amble across the pampas, with gauchos leading the way.

[Gaucho Sidebar - Two hombres of particular note: Oscar is 73 and has been a working gaucho all his life. He also plays the guitar and sings traditional songs for the tourists at lunch. (And I have a CD to prove it.) His nephew José, in addition to being a wrangler, is a “susurraba a los caballos” (horse whisperer) whom A.J. asserts looks like what Bruce Springsteen would be if only he were a gaucho. Muy guapo.]

This proved to be sufficient equine activity to tide me over for the foreseeable future, so I spent most of my non-eating time either taking photoz or lying on a couch on the veranda, luxuriating in the breeze and listening to approximately a million parakeets yack it up in the trees. Bliss.

Along with fresh air, free-range beef, and impressive quantities of easily avoidable horse poop, El Ombú offers an opportunity to contemplate the night sky away from the lights of Buenos Aires. We had glorious views of the Milky Way and the southern constellations, including the Southern Cross. It is humbling to contemplate such immensity and grandeur and regrettable to realize that we have become so apart from it.

We are so small.

But now we are back in BA, Las Chicas are home safe and/or sound, and we are preparing for our next guests, two women friends who also came to visit us when we lived in Ghana. No problema: “The List” awaits.