Jenny and our host Manuel outside the hostel we stayed at
Just wanted to give you a few extra details about our time on the estancia.
It was an experience from the moment we were met ay the bus station by a farmer guy with a red necktie and his nephew in very worn out shorts. They were friendly and made no mention of the fact that our bus was over an hour late. (or at least we don´t think they did, but we couldn´t really understand what he was saying anyway). We called in at a garage to pick up some sandwiches because we thought we were too late for lunch. The drive to the farm was crazy, there was about a foot deep of sludgy mud, and the pickup slid all over the place. You would think it totally undrivable, but unbelievably we saw people riding bikes and mororbikes along it the next day. When we got there, Manuel quickly warmed us some sausages and chicken fresh from the freezer! All on him, we were halfway though our sandwiches and only managed a bit of the meat.
It was pouring with rain so we played table tennis and table football with Manuel and Jose all afternoon.
OUr hostel turned out to be a great big barn, with loads of tables and chairs, fireplaces and I think dorms upstairs, but we were in a double room that you had to go outside to get too. I guess it would be a fantastic place to go with a big group and I think it gets busy in the summer at weekends, but we had the whole place to ourselves!
We had steak for dinner, Manuel asked us whether we wanted dinner there...like we had a choice, there was no way we could go anywhere else, not that we wanted too. He made a great saled with lettuce from his garden, which he showed us round the next day. We washed it down with a remarkably good bottñe of wine. We passed the eve playing cards, which was areal test of our spanish. We never quite got the hang of one game, but Jose and Manuel paired up with us and basically told us what to do. I dissappeared to the loo and when I returned we´d move on to the beer, apparently Manuel just cracked it open and poured it out. Jose was given some, but at
14 despite being a heavy smoker he didn´t seem to have developed a taste for beer.
We also had entertainment in the form of Manuel´s dog. It accompanied us on the ride, keeping up even when we cantered. It also sang along when Manuel played a funny mouth organ. And it chased a cat up a tree, which thoughtonly happened in cartoons. It was actually a bit horrible, as then Jose used a slingshot to get the cat out of the tree and the dog killed the cat. Apparently the cats eat the chickens so they have to be kept on top on. I guess it´s all part of the experience.
There were signs up saying you had to do your own washing up etc. but whenever we tried to help we told to stop and they were very keen to look after us well. We got to go riding the next day. Jamie and I were lucky and got saddles and bridles. Jose had no saddle at all, just a blanket strapped on. Manuel was riding a youngster which just had some rope for a bit. They made a curb chain before we set off, and were
fixing the bridle together out of anything it seemed. The horses were amazingly well behaved, and we had great sheepskins to sit on over our saddle (which were basically 2 bits of leather tied together). It was pretty comfy though I had to get used to sitting trot. The horses jogged all the way, although Jamie´s horse was in it´s 20s and took a bit of kicking. We had some fantastic canters, and Jamie did really well to stay on ( he only looked a bit scared!)
When we got back we had to head straight out to catch the bus. The journey went smoothñy despite the mud, and typically of Manuel, as we had 20 mins to spare he gave us a tour of the town. They waited to see us off at the station where we got our luxurious bus (far better than National Express) back to Buenes Aires, stinking of horses! All in all, it was a fantastic experience for both of us.
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