The far too brief handover from dinner to breakfast takes place over the typically pithy sweet bread and tea; this new day starting barely distinct from the previous. Nursing a healthy dose of withdrawals from our continuous alcohol lifestyle we are bizarrely not offered wine for breakfast from the punishing hospitality at Sayta. More wine than we need and not nearly as much as they want is served. Today though we dive deeper into the embracing sentiment that is the intangible of lifestyle here, it’s a full day on horses into the mountains that dominate the views here. Safe to say I’m very excited about getting into the mountains while my back side is terrified of the saddle abuse to come. The mountains win, yesterdays little ride proves good preparation for a bigger jaunt we can’t wait for.
We’re lumped in with a much bigger group so there ends up being about 30 or so in the equine convoy heading for the hills. Circuiting beautiful fields and tobacco plantations our hodge podge group takes in the vistas in the only manner that seems appropriate here, by horse. The big bonus for me today is that Odin, my horse, is far more gentle than the raging hormonal bitch that I had yesterday. He’s a little slow at times but he distinctly lacks the attitude that makes this very inexperienced rider’s day far from the enjoyable time it should be. The big banishment of uncertainty comes after a short pee stop. The group goes off quite a way ahead and it seems that these horses are pretty well trained to go together. The second I get back on he bolts up the now empty road at a full gallop with no gaucho in sight, holy shit. Passing the initial shock I get about 150m of good gallop and by the end of it I just want to let it fly; any sense of trepidation thoroughly washed aside by a notably racing pulse. Arriving back to the group a gaucho looks a little concerned and asks me if I’m ok. Couldn’t be better seńor.
Winding our way to the mountains the roads eventually close in around us and the climb begins. We usually do this type of thing on foot so this is a real bonus, what have we been doing all these years. In no time at all we arrive at our stop, a rustic patched together couple of buildings border a small grass field, even this simple structure seems hugely developed for this place. There’s a small stream running either side of the lawn and the horses are all tied up to the intoxicating smell of Argentinian barbecue. That’s right, there’s a heavy smell of charring meat on a grill, the team from Sayta have made it up to the mountains to prepare our lunch. Could this be any better? No, I thought not.
In this mountain escape we make our way into an iron roofed structure with only two walls to find a banquet table set up and huge piles of meat sizzling away on the old brick barbecue. It really deserves a double take, this location, this food: outrageous. We wanted to jump deep into this Argentinian rural lifestyle and although we’re seeing the upsides without the down it feels so authentic, our usually sharp radars for plastic tourist crap are oddly quiet. And we gorge on salad, potatoes, meat and of course wine; being sober is undoubtedly bad for ones morals so it’s comforting to elevate ones propriety. As yesterday we’re catching a moment of magic and trying to hold it for as long as we can, the ingredients here coalesce into perfection with a little lay down by a stream; can it last forever?
Just to throw more layers of culture onto the cake here the gauchos show off with a bunch of horse tricks. It’s like the perfect setting for a real life version of the old school ‘El Coballo Blanco’ show. It just keeps getting better.
Our journey back winds further up the mountain welcomely over far rougher tracks. It’s a bit more of a challenging ride and after saying goodby to equine uncertainty it’s genuinely fun. Still floating from the amazing lunch we’ve just had the ass isn’t sore, the views are fantastic and this journey into another lifestyle just continues unchecked. Charlie goes for a good little gallop taking on all the sexy man-from-snowy-river persona available looking like quite a pro. That’s my one ladies, back off. And I’m only partially flippant, Laura at the ranch even calls me a bitch for telling her she can try her hardest to consummate her love for Charlie.
After seven hours in the saddle we don’t so much ride back, we float back on a high from all things Argentina. It’s not a great surprise that we are forced to have tea upon our return, followed by wine; it seems some things don’t change and thankfully so. Again this wheel turns, the Argentinian day rolls along on a rhythm refined by generations past and enjoyed by generations present. Swimming in a soup of simplicity we forget the constant companions of WiFi, Facebook, email and music; we’re living the populist philosophy of ‘does technology make us happy’? On first impressions I’m ready to throw the iPad in the river.