¡Feliz Día de San Valentín! My Valentine’s Day was wonderful, yet instead of conversation hearts and chocolate, there were lots of dulce de leche and cow intestines! Not convinced that this equals the best way to spend the day of love? Well gauchos need love too, and today, I became a real live gaucho – the iconic Argentine cowboys who wandered through the pampas (fertile plains, the breadbasket of Argentina) on their horses while herding animals. So, it was time to strap on my bootstraps and saddle up…well, not quite, but I did ride a horse!
As an excursion for ISA, we went outside the city about an hour to an estancia, which are the old country estates in Argentina. It was so picturesque, with lots of open fields and big trees everywhere that provided wonderful shade. After we got off the bus, we had breakfast on long tables underneath said shade. Most of the other groups there were older, but they were all Argentinean so it wasn’t really touristy. Our ‘traditional Argentine breakfast’ consisted of café con leche (I discovered that if I filled half of my coffee cup with milk, added a ton of sugar and stirred in some dulce de leche, I was actually able to finish a cup of coffee for the first time in my life) and biscuits with jam and dulce de leche (what else).
After breakfast, we had a horse-riding lesson (as if the inner-gaucho in me needed it) and we all got to ride the horses for a bit. I also scrambled part-way up a rock climbing wall and watched the asadores prepare our asado lunch. One of the funniest moments of the day was watching these older people have contests such as who could put on the fake-nipple/fake-butt-with-thong combo on the fastest. I have to say, it was very entertaining to see them shake and grab these graphic plastic body parts. Somehow I got roped into it, and sadly, there is picture proof of this. I still can’t decide whether it should be up on the internet or not. I then had to spray silly string all over the old man who lost to me.
Lunch was absolutely ridiculous. It was all you could eat at this salad bar (very different items than would be on one in the US), grilled veggies, and all kinds of cooked meat, chicken, and fish. We also ate sugary grilled apples, thinking that was dessert, but no – they brought out panqueque con dulce de leche, which translates to “death-by–caramel” in English. Imagine a crepe filled with a three-inch thick layer of dulce de leche coated with powdered sugar. Needless to say, none of us could move after this, and we sort of floated our bloated bodies in the pool to cool off. Of course, it was only a short time later that they were calling us back to the table for a merienda (snack) of apple cobbler. Sadly, we had to waddle to the bus after that and say goodbye to the campo. At least now I can consider myself a regular Martin Fierro (literary gaucho reference, look it up). And that was the Día del Campo on the Día de san Valentin.
Besos y abrazos a todo mis amores (Kisses and hugs to all my loves),
Nicole Scholet is a student at University of Florida and an ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Latin America.