I have just returned from the Argentine countryside and it truly was a breath of fresh air. I have been in the middle of the city of Buenos Aires for about 2 weeks now, loving every second of it. The streets are crowded with drivers always in a hurry (seriously, the lanes and stoplights are only suggestions in Argentina) and I usually wake up to the sounds of horns honking and people conversing on the street. The city life is jam-packed, exciting, and chaotic all at the same time, and I have hardly realized how “on-the-go” I have been for the past 14 days until now.
Saturday morning, my friend Lucy and I found ourselves going the wrong way on the subte (subway) and ended up sprinting, backpacks and hair flying, to our meeting spot for the bus that would take us to the ranch. As we showed up about half an hour late, we were completely baffled to find the bus still there waiting for us. As we boarded, sweaty and out of breath, we shuffled to the back where we sat down and eased into sleep. Phew.
We arrive an hour later to a ranch, Estancia Don Silvano. We are greeted with a tour and a chance to have a short ride on a horse. Then, we have a traditional asado, where there was every kind of meat you can imagine, grilled to perfection. The lunch was accompanied by traditional music and dance, as well as Lucy and I attempting to learn Portuguese from the Brazilian couple sitting across from us (as if Spanish wasn’t hard enough!) Then, our planned activities ended with a gaucho show (the Argentinian version of a cowboy) and mate (the traditional Argentine tea drink).
Now afterwards, there was no one else staying, they were all going back on the bus to Buenos Aires. Lucy and I were ushered to our rooms around 5 pm, being told dinner was at 9 and nothing else. At first, we looked at each other questioning what in the world we were to do. We frantically attempted to download a movie and then tried Netflix, but both failed. We went downstairs to find a family with 3 young boys and then proceeded to watch Mulan in Spanish, and just sit and be. What a drastic change from running around to this.
The next morning we got up early to eat breakfast. They had a fire quietly ablaze; we organized our chairs around it, got our coffee cups and once again, we just sat. We were summoned to another horseback riding excursion about an hour later, and since there were a lot less people we were able to ride much longer, taking in the beautiful scenery and the quiet peace of the ranch. Afterwards, we basically repeated the previous day with the asado, mate, and gaucho, meeting more people along the way. Finally, we boarded a smaller van and headed back to the city.
Now, I hear chattering from the street and more cars honking, and I feel the need to finish my homework and check things off my to-do list. Now, I have no true preference to the city or the country, but this has been the coolest experience to witness and appreciate the benefits of both. This short trip has made me realize the importance of rest and peace. Yesterday, I was extremely alarmed when I learned that we had no set schedule or wifi. Today, I reflect on a weekend that most people in my generation might call boring- with a huge smile on my face. I had a true taste of the deep culture of this country. I got to meet and see people from different backgrounds. I got to relax, sit by a fire, and drink coffee with no rush or to-do list, and a sweet friend of mine beside me for company. I cannot always journey to an Argentinean gaucho ranch when the hustle and bustle of life becomes too overwhelming, but this weekend I learned the importance of putting aside time to simply sit and be. This is not “boring” or a waste of time, but an enhancement of time, something we all need.
So thank you, Estancia Don Silvano, for teaching me this small, yet important lesson, and also for the endless food and drink. I hope to see you again.