Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oscar the Groucho - Estancia El Ombu

We love a good estancia.  Horse-riding, steak, carriage rides, steak, sausage, steak, beer & wine:  what's not to love?  Having already enjoyed an estancia in Salta we planned a second visit to one outside Buenos Aires with my folks.

Estancia El Ombu is in San Antonio de Areco.  This was a perfect location because we thought there was a major gaucho celebration that day.  Instead it turned out to be just some boring closing ceremonies (sorry Dustin, Amy, & NYTimes Frugal traveler), so we scrapped the plans to spend time at the festival and our partial day at the estancia turned into a full day!

The day started with some initial confusion: we got to the car rental place and realized that we didn't have directions to the ranch, and also couldn't remember the name of the estancia!  But the helpful folks at Advantage rent-a-car let us use their super-slow internet and some quick googling found El Ombu and directions there.  With a name and directions in hand we jumped in our trusty Citroen and drove the 90 minutes or so to Estancia el Ombu (D only stalled twice in the garage, and never on the road!).  

A most-welcoming lunch spot at Estancia El Ombu

At Ombu we were greeted with a quick tour followed by some empanadas and a welcome beverage, and then we all headed out on a horseback ride with our gaucho Oscar (Oscar the Gaucho?  Oscar the Groucho?).  This was Lynda and Steve's first time on horseback since the 1920s or something like that (just kidding, just kidding), but it had been a long time.  Lynda's horse, despite being  "the most calm horse we have", mostly trotted.  Steve's horse, a good horse for "a strong man" did whatever it pleased.  This was fun for us to watch.

Lynda in a steady trot

Steve, being taken for a ride by his horse.
Definitely not the jefe (boss)

But look how happy everyone looks:
They look like a couple of old pros.
Don't be fooled.
Unlike other horse riding operations we've visited, Ombu was very laid back about the riding.  

Jesse: "Oscar can we gallop?" 
Oscar: "sure, whenever you want".  
Jesse:  (galloping off) "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
Dave: (galloping off) "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!"
Lynda (still trotting): "Don't you even think about galloping"
Steve (whose horse was busy eating): "I'll just stand here"



A couple of things to note:
1) Dave's handsome facial hair
2) Dave's fully exposed (but still handsome) canckles 
Our ride took us through the pampas flats and around fields of soy.  One notable moment was Dave's attempt to run his horse ahead of the group, turn the horse around and attempt to take a picture of the group.  Instead, the horse bucked, Dave's camera went flying to the ground, and no one got their photo taken.  Next, gaucho Dave hopped off the horse to grab the camera, which sent the horse into a frantic, front-legs-fully-in-the-air rearing, loudly neighing and whinny frenzy.  Obviously, Dave let the horse go and stood sheepishly (holding his camera) as Oscar chased down the now-free and galloping horse.  Dave meekly climbed back onto the horse  and enjoyed the remainder of the ride with Oscar at his side.  

Lunch was a huge asado served under a giant tree.  Afterwards we were serenaded by Oscar and watched another gaucho demonstrate his horse whispering (see the post bottom for more photos)  J&D opted for another horse ride after lunch (through more fields, including swamp!) while L&S took some broken down bikes out for a spin.  Then we drove into San Antonio de Areco where we visited some artisan shops, a chocolate factory, and a very interesting silver museum and workshop where we learned about gaucho culture, saw old gaucho gear, and toured the silver workshop, a family operation.  It was a cute little town... for a couple hours at least.

Great day at Estancia El Ombu

All in a really good day.


Successful horse whispering
Live horse whispering.

Think he brushes?

That is not easy riding.

We unsuccessfully whispered.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous day that was! I even enjoyed the ride on my horse.


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