Gauchos were migrant cattle workers who lived on beef and yerba mate roaming the unchartered wilds of an Argentina that has long since disappeared. There’s not so much that’s wild and unchartered about the country’s agro-economy these days, but some of the bygone knowledge and tradition have been retained.
Ruben, the caretaker of the small farm we stayed at this weekend in Entre Rios certainly looked the part. When he’s not herding cattle, you might find him taming horses; not strictly a gaucho, but a good deal more so than the city folk up for a visit.
He sorted us out with suitably tame horses and, after we’d spent a day riding around the farm, he pointed out with a grin that there were some muscles we’d be feeling in the morning that probably didn’t get much exercise in the city. “It’s just a question of what you’re used to” he noted, “stick me in an office in front a computer and who knows which bit of me would end up aching”.
It’s easy to over-romanticize rural life after a couple of days paddling in the river and trotting around on horses but it’s safe to say that at least Ruben isn’t going to be worrying about posture related illnesses of a sedentary lifestyle.