Riding Through Argentina

Riding Through Argentina

A Slice of Argentinian Pie

Months ago, I was sitting in a comfy cafe chair, pushing pie into my face. We were in Ushuaia, southernmost Argentina. I was reading a folk tale about a revered gaucho who robbed the rich to give to the poor, congruent with our Robin Hood tales. Currently en route to Caviahue, a mountain village in southwest Argentina, a modern-day gaucho emerged, riding over the plains with his cattle, donning a dusty beret and bombachas. He greeted me warmly as he stopped atop a hill.

The guy for whom I’d been seeking subliminally was as stalwart as he was hardy. It made me wonder what he thought of us, straddling our steeds in this unforgiving environment. Urban cowboys, probably.

Cowboys and Monkey Puzzles

The gaucho is one of Argentina’s most enduring icons. Their tradition began centuries ago, herding cattle on the grassy Pampas. We’d since seen scores of these lone cowboy-like figures traveling north through Argentina. I mused at the parallel between them and us, as the nomadic cowboys once lived by breaking in horses, herding cows, and drinking the caffeine-rich herbal drink known as mate.

Riding Through Argentina
Spiky shrubs poked through all around us as we made camp in a field of cacti facing the formidable Andes. Insects droned in their daily work, and a milk-blue sky hung calmly above us.

Meanwhile, us Brits broke in our motorcycle boots, hunted down the best beef asados in town, and drank tea until the cows came home. I was intrigued by the mate beverage (pronounced mah-teh), the only cultural practice that truly transcends social barriers. Alas, its bitterness dominated the palate even with six sugars stirred in, but at least it keeps you warm.