I didn’t mean to abandon you, faithful readers, but work often takes me to far off lands with questionable internet access! This past week I partially crossed something off of my bucket list with my first trip to Argentina. I say partially because it was my plan to ride an Argentine Criollo Horse on this trip but my ride was cancelled due to very bad flooding in Buenos Aires in the river valley where the ranches are located. So, I was gutted, but tried to make the most of my trip outside of work!
The economy in Argentina is in rough shape and so the giant city of Buenos Aires is showing more of its age than the proud people there would like (or would care to admit). Still, the city maintains its old european charm and rich culture. I drank some lovely Malbec wine, gorged on delicious parrilla grilled steak, and sealed the deal with a quintessential dulce de leche-filled alfajor.
Blooming into spring in the southern hemisphere, the weather could not have been more perfect: Mid-70s, sunny, low-humidity. I walked through the local bizarre ogling beautiful leather goods and trying to perform rapid currency conversions in my head. The late lunch hour on Wednesday was alive with people taking a rest in the park or migrating back to the office from their lunch.
During the week, I worked at a public hospital in Buenos Aires and it was an eye-opening experience.
Some very skilled surgeons do good work here making the most of what the public system can offer. These public hospitals often see the sickest patients and have vastly fewer resources to treat them so creativity and tenacity on the part of the surgeon is critical.
Blah blah blah work is boring….horse.
So since I was a super sad panda about my ride getting cancelled, I googled like a champ to find myself something to do before returning home on Saturday night. I finally found something right up my alley called Feria de Mataderos. This fair/folk market started in 1986 to commemorate gaucho culture. The barrio Mataderos is on the outskirts of Buenos Aires connecting the city to the countryside. The gauchos used to herd cattle into the city through this barrio and now every Sunday they close down some of the streets and line them with booths filled with crafts, art, locally produced food and wine. There are riders there performing demos and competing in this competition to spear a tiny ring hanging overhead with an ink-pen sized lance off of a galloping horse. They put up a stage and host musical talents and gaucho-style dancers and basically have a big block party from 11am to 8pm all to celebrate the Argentinian cowboy!
Very occasionally they host a mini-version of this fair on a Saturday and last Saturday just happened to be one of those days!! Since it was a smaller version, there were no horses and no horse competitions- cue disappointment yet again- but they had all of the other stuff so I guess it was still ok.
I bought these two drawings from a local artist named Sergio. He was friendly and chatty and I couldn’t resist.
wheels-up, hasta la proxima, Buenos Aires!!!