….Continued from Part 1
When I read that our town will be hosting a “Dia de la mula Serrano” I immediately took notice. I knew the gauchos will be there and this year I didn´t want to miss it. Andrey and I decided to take turns and I went early in the morning with no idea what will be on the program. The weather was miserable and cold and I wasn´t sure how many people will be attending the day.
My husband often tell me that I am like a little girl, I really get excited about events like these. I arrived just in time for the flag to be hoisted and the National anthem to be sung. 21 June is day of the flag (Dia de la bandera) and I have written before how Argentinians idolize their flag. Maybe I missed a couple of Spanish words during the ceremony but that was not important. I loved the atmosphere and to see the passion when the people were singing their anthem – hat in hand and held close to the heart.
|Hoisting of the flag and singing of the anthem|
I was quickly drawing attention with my camera and off course I don´t look Argentinian. The presenter of the day came up to me and asked me if I was from the media.
“Yes and no…I have my own blog, two actually and a web page and I like writing about Argentina and the people”..blah blah…but no words were necessary as I was welcomed and people were happy that I have showed an interest in the events. I am not the kind of person who like to draw a lot of attention when I photograph people. I hate asking people to pose for a photo. Personally I think it doesn´t look natural when you have to shine your teeth and pack out a grin. But it was too late and I asked the presenter to pose for a photo. He was a very friendly man and we spoke briefly about the event and what the importance was of the horses and the gauchos. He gladly explained.
|The presenter and organizer of the gaucho day in Santa Rosa de Calamuchita|
More and more people started to arrive and I was enjoying myself photographing people. I was in stalking mode again and I chose my victims carefully. A little girl came running to her mom and when she saw me she stopped dead in her tracks and glared at me. I laughed and pointed my camera in a different direction.
|The girl who didn´t like to be photographed|
More gauchos started to arrive and I admired the clothing. They were all wearing a baggy type of pants with a shirt, scarf around the neck and a bolero type jacket. To round this off they wore a poncho,hat and leather boots. Some of them looked really handsome almost like those Camel man advertisements from years ago. Hmmmm…..
|A gaucho dressed up|
People were talking, drinking mate and admiring the horses and mules. The young gauchos were checking their mules and I had a quick chat to one of them. He was a friendly young boy and took great pride in caring for his mule. People were approaching me and asking me why am I taking photos. I explained..again.
|A young gaucho who took pride in caring for his mule|
The presenter was busy gathering the young gauchos for the first event. I was still in my own world when the next moment I saw all eyes on my and my name being mentioned. The guy thanked me for being there and for taking photos. He mentioned that I will have the photos on my website,blog and Facebook and that they can visit it to have a look. I felt like crawling into a hole. The stalker got caught!
|Young ones getting ready for the first event|
The first event was very interesting. A pole, painted in the Argentinian colours, was standing in the middle of the arena. At the top a leather strip was hanging with a small ring at the bottom. The contestant had to charge his mule and touch this ring with a small stick until it fell down. It involved a lot of concentration and they only got two turns. It was wonderful to watch these little ones. People were cheering and joking and I enjoyed every minute.
|The excitement as he managed to get the ring|
It was amazing to watch the intense concentration and either the joy or disappointment when they turned their mules around for another round. The younger gauchos use mules because they are smaller.
|A young gaucho on his way to master the event|
Next up were the older gauchos. This event was wonderful. It was the same event but you can just imagine how intense it was with the more powerful horses. The ring is so small and often the older gauchos don´t have the best eyesight. People would make jokes at them which was taken with a lot of laughter. In between their turns they gathered around and made small talk obviously enjoying every moment. Some of the older gauchos were so experienced that they came charging down with a cigaret in the mouth! That was hilarious!
|A gaucho with a cigarette in the mouth|
I stood around for another couple of minutes and then headed back home. It was time for hubby to make an appearance and to watch the Gauchos ride the cows. They don´t use bulls for this event but cows.
I interviewed my husband and this is how it went:
Nelieta: “You have been living in Argentina for 11 years,. Have you ever had the opportunity to see the Gauchos in action?”
Andrey: “No, this was my first time. They have a National Gaucho day in October where they gather in the city but I never saw them in action.”
Nelieta:” What were your first impressions when you arrived at the event?”
Andrey:“I thought the show was over. Nothing was happening and people were eating. I was very disappointed. I went up to the presenter (because I had to give him the information where to find your blog) and asked him what was happening. We had a nice conversation and then he told me that the cow show will be starting soon.”
Nelieta:“The gauchos dressed in traditional clothing look very impressive. Do you think Argentinians are proud of the their gauchos?”
Andrey:” Yes they do look very impressive and the gauchos take pride in their appearance. I think Argentinians are very proud of them because the have contributed so much to the culture and history of Argentina.”
|Older gauchos in traditional clothes|
Nelieta:“There must have been a great vibe when the first cow was mounted.Did people cheer and clap?“
Andrey:” It was amazing! People were cheering and clapping until the first rider got thrown off and had to be taken for medical treatment. “
Nelieta:“That is terrible! How old is the average rider?”
Andrey:”The youngest was 13 but he was refused to particpate after the accident of the first contestant. I think 13 is too young. The older gauchos were the best riders. They were not afraid of the cows and were greeting the people. I think with age you get more experience.”
Nelieta:”Do you think it is easy to ride a cow?“
Andrey:“Definitely not. The cows are quite moody and not used to having someone on their backs. They start jumping as soon as the person mounts them. I was surprised to see how high they can jump. They also use cows only and not bulls.”
Nelieta:“What was your most memorable moment of the day?“
Andrey:“There was this older gaucho and he was incredible. For him it was like riding a horse. The cow was jumping but couldn´t throw him off. He was cheering and waving while the cow was jumping. He was enjoying every moment and the crowds loved him. My mouth was literally hanging open while he was in action.”
National Gaucho day is celebrated in October and I will once again prepare to go and meet the Gauchos of the Pampas!
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