Welcome to this week’s That One Time In – the feature where fellow travelers share their stories of travel, adventure and everything in between. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @WhereinWorldKP – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s That One Time In features Kelly Ross of Endlessly Exploring on her adventure of being a gaucho for the day in Salta, Argentina. This is her story:
For an hour we drove past the thousands of pilgrims who were approaching the city center. We had arrived the previous day in the colonial city of Salta in Argentina, and although it would have been remarkable to watch each person finish in the main square after walking for thousands of miles, today we had other plans. In fact, we were making our way to the outskirts of Salta and into the countryside for a unique experience and a memorable encounter with the culture of this region. We were going to give it our best shot at being a Gaucho, a South American cowboy (well, cowgirl).
We arrived at the Estancia (the ranch) excited for a full day of horse riding in this famous region known for it’s large rural landscape, and of course, it’s excellent vineyards and wineries. Greeted with the warmest of welcomes by the owner, Enrique, we were provided with a light breakfast before gearing up and making our way to the horse stables.
There were quite a few Gauchos and stable hands around, most of them were decked out in the traditional Gaucho outfits with their riding boots on and cowboy hats. We were each selected to ride a different horse depending on our previous experience with horseback riding.
Although I had once taken horse riding lessons for a year in the distance past, I wasn’t the most talented rider. In fact, one of my most vivid memories from that period of my life was my first attempt at jumping, where not only the horse made the jump just fine, but I also made a jump over the horse and landed in a dusty mess on the arena floor. I guess this reflects the quality of rider I am!
Thankfully, the horses were very well trained. They had obviously been taking the same route for quite some time, as they knew the trail off by heart. We made our way through the dry fields, winding around the quiet country towns and along the worn-out trails. The gaucho that led us along the route took it in turns to ride next to each of us and ask us about ourselves. Despite the little English that he spoke along with our limited Spanish, we were able to communicate with the occasional one-word answers along with the matching hand action.
As we built up our confidence, we began to advance from a slow walk to a trot. We were even given the chance to gallop down a long straight stretch of grass. I was lucky enough to be the first pick to gallop down the lane, and even though it was a little frightening, it was a great little ride. After I made it down to the finish, I looked up to see my sister halfway down the stretch already – her horse had a mind of its own and took off at lightning speed towards where I was waiting. She made it to the end of the stretch unharmed, but a little shocked; we believed that her horse was the ‘leader’ who just always wanted to be at the front of the line.
After a nice few hours of horse back riding, it was time to dig into some of the delicious local cuisine. We began the meal with a taste test of different types of local wine, which seemed to be poured into bottomless glasses. We were then brought to the table where our Asado (traditional BBQ) had been served. The table was jam-packed with food to try! Meat, meat and more meat, as well as plenty of colorful and flavorsome salads. We were accompanied by Enrique for our feast, as well as the other workers and family from the ranch. He was one hell of a character, with his cheeky smile and hilarious one-liners. At one stage he exclaimed to us that Paul Hogan had once come to his ranch as he casually pulled out a huge knife, I’m still not sure what to believe!
Of course, the day was yet to finish without one more exciting moment. PUPPIES! Yes, that’s right I said puppies. It just so happened at the time we were in Salta, the ranch dog had given birth to half a dozen little ones and as a group of girls, there was no surprise that we would be all over them! The perfect end to a perfect day.
Kelly Ross is a young traveller from Australia with a bucket list longer than a novel. At 21 years old, she has travelled to over 25 countries, and most recently spent 3 months making her way through the USA and South America. Her blog, Endlessly Exploring, is a collection of her travel stories, bucket lists, inspiration and travel tips.