Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Kissing Gauchos

The ship stayed two days in Buenos Aires, and on the second day I went to a ranch outside the city, to learn about the life, both traditional and contemporary, of gauchos.  The ranch had belonged to an Irish family, who did raised horses and cattle.  They had five children, and one of them now owns the ranch and lives elsewhere on the property.  The family home is a museum, showing life as it was, and there were some lovely old ponchos and other weavings.  And, not in the museum, but on the property, are a lot of pretty horses.
And, this being a tourist destination, there were also tango dancers and musicians who performed some of the traditional gaucho songs.

Gauchos are cowboys.  The picture below shows a man dancing using his bola, which is a hunting weapon.  Accurately thrown, they can be deadly.

The next photo shows a typical belt, which for a reason I didn't learn, was made of old coins.  Perhaps it's how they kept their money, before the days of banks.

The next picture is of the family chapel, to give you an idea of the architecture.

We went riding, as you can see, and the gauchos then showed us how they herd horses and cattle.  

It's lovely here, and in many ways, similar to the Canadian prairies.
  Different flora, though.

The gauchos brought in a herd of horses, and then divided them into groups by colour.

I love this next photo because the horse looks so annoyed and the other one seems to be comforting him.

Okay, finally I'll get to the kissing gauchos part.  After the herding, they showed us a game of skill they play.  A tiny ring, and inch and a half in diameter, is hung from the bottom of a strap hanging from a wooden frame.  The gaucho holds a small stick, not much bigger than a chop stick, rides his horse at full gallop under the frame, and tried to snatch the ring on his stick.   If he succeeds, he gives the ring to a woman watching, in return for a kiss.  Their skill was impressive, and after the first couple of rings had been given, I decided I wanted one.  I surprised myself, because when the next guy got a ring, I stepped up beside the field and waved at him.  And over he rode!  I don't think of myself as being quite so brazen, and it made me think of how, for centuries, women have watched me perform athletic feats and offered kisses and more to the winners.  It was strange to see myself as part of this long-time form of interaction between the sexes.  I did wonder if there are ever any women gauchos, and some of the men in the audience were joking that they'd been ripped off, since they didn't get to kiss anyone.  It was fun, though, and impressive to watch.  And if watching set my little female heart to fluttering, well, I'm not the first to react that way.

Hopefully you can see the little stick in the above picture.  The rings are hanging from the three straps, but they're so small they were hard to see.

Here's my guy, about to get his kiss.  It's impressive how far down they can lean and still remain in the saddle.  And besides, he's cute, isn't he.
    And here are the triumphant warriors.  They all got their rings far more often than they missed.

The hats that look like berets are the traditional gaucho hat. 
   I took a lot of pictures, so here are some more, some last views of this lovely place.


  1. He is handsome, Judy! Way to go! - Patti

  2. Judy, where are you? it has been one week since your last post and we all miss you. Please write.