Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Barefoot Gaucho

…was obviously the idea I was going for when I showed up for the horseback riding and not well received by the real gaucho, Maceo who asked if I knew how to get on a horse, let alone ride one. We had been informed (incorrectly) by the owner of our hostel that we could “gallop, go off trail, or do whatever we want.” I received an angry scolding from Maceo after galloping off for a hundred yards down the beach (I mean, how often are you presented with a wide open stretch of Uruguayan beach on horseback?).

After talking to the girls, they said it was a machismo thing, as he had been complaining about how he was the real gaucho and these were his horses and we should all follow him, not some gringo who didn’t even bring shoes. Threatening his masculinity was not my M.O. so I relented and followed Maceo for the rest of the trip. We went across the Valizas “desert” to the nearby Cabo Polonia, a beautiful cape with a classic lighthouse. We had so much fun riding through the dunes and on beach I almost forgot it was Thanksgiving. All the restaurants in town were closed so we ended up with a nice pasta dinner with Uruguayan Malbec and of course, lots of yerba maté.
PS. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful and quiet it is out here on the Eastern coast of Uruguay. We’ve managed to preempt the tourist season here, so we are the only ones in town. Even moments when foul weather has rolled in have presented an epic, magical ambiance. This is one place I will absolutely return to.

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