An Argentine Weekend in 'El Campo': Day 2
The next morning we were treated to a royal breakfast of tostadas, coffee, and about a thousand different jams, jellies, and spreads for the tostadas, before we departed for Rojas to see the city and Mario’s vet clinic/store. We all bought some gaucho souvenirs from the store, and I mailed my letters. We ate a lunch that Saturday of homemade pizza and empanadas cooked outside in their stone oven. They were, of course, incredible. This was followed by panqueques dulce de leche for dessert. I ate so much I thought I was going to die afterwards. I was exhausted, if only from the eating marathon I had undertaken in the previous twelve hours. I had to go take a nap and digest. When I woke up, we went horseback riding through the Aguer’s property to the Rojas River. Riding through the cattle pastures of the pampas with the sun setting over the fields and the parrots perching on the wire fence is a view I will never forget.
When we got back I was just in time to help get dinner ready. That is, I was just in time to help kill dinner. I grew up on a sheep farm, so I was thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to help butcher the cordero (lamb) we were going to eat for dinner. Luis lassoed it, dragged it over to a tree, we strung it up by its back legs, and well, you can imagine what the rest was like. It was awesome! Nothing gives me a greater feeling of accomplishment than having a direct hand in the creation of the food I eat. For Alice and Tony it was pretty shocking, but also an awakening to the reality of the state of food in America. We seldom have a personal relationship with our dinner, and it decreases your appreciation for the food, the earth, and the work it took to produce.
After this culinary awakening, we went and got cleaned up. That night one of the greatest soccer games of the year was on tv. It was between the two most popular teams in Argentina, River Plate and the Boca Juniors. Even though we were having an asado, cooking the lamb over the fire in a similar fashion, there was no good reason for an Argentine to miss this game. So, they brought the tv out to the fire to watch while cooking. It was a lot of fun to see the rivalries and the excitement on the field and at the asado. Luis, the asador, was for Boca, and almost everyone else was for River. He had a pretty big head after the game because Boca won.
After the meal, Rachel performed another concert for us with our dessert and coffee. It was incredibly good, once again. During dinner, and during her singing, there had been lightning in the distance. There was a severe drought going on, and they were hoping it would bring rain. We all went inside after some more talking. Mario’s kids put in some music and we made a space for dancing in their living room. Mario and Mariana showed off their tango skills, and I also got a lesson in cumbia. They also did the most energetic dance I have ever seen to ‘Rock Around the Clock’. Then suddenly, the music stopped and the lights went out- it was the storm! We followed Mario and Mariana as they rushed outside to see what was happening. Because the music was so loud, we hadn’t noticed the tumultuous storm that had rolled up. The wind was roaring, lightning was flashing, and the pool was filling with debris! We all watched from the porch as the clouds moved in and the wind whipped the ancient trees along the driveway. But sadly, there was very little rain. It was almost 4 in the morning, so everyone decided this was an excellent climax to another great night, and returned for the night.
Sunday was a lazy day. Rachel, Alice, and I enjoyed a late breakfast, swam, and took some time to drink maté and do some writing. Then we headed back to the city in the afternoon. It was an emotional departure, not only for us, but for the Aguer’s, too. We had started a great new friendship, and I had just had one of the best weekends of my life.