The Pampas

After a long trek from California, ten hunters and myself arrived in Lincoln, Argentina, which is located approximately 180 miles North of Buenos Aires (the town of Lincoln is so small it failed to appear on any of my Lonely Planet maps!).   As we approached our lodge, smoke bellowed from the outdoor grill and field dogs were the first to greet us. The house was simple and beautiful with sharp corners and beige paint.  It had large windows that allowed you to look through. Our surroundings were vast natural grasslands with infrequent clusters of planted trees.  By squinting your eyes you could make out horses to the North while a glance to the East presented a herd of cattle.

We met the Manager, Charlie (imagine Hugh Grant) and he assigned our rooms.  Speaking proper English he gave us stern instructions to report for lunch within the hour. During mealtime hunters were organized into groups and provided an outline of their routine for the next 3 days.   I, on the other hand, enjoyed a glass of red wine and pondered how to keep myself occupied.

After a lovely meal, the hunters outfitted themselves and headed for the duck pond and I spent the remaining afternoon roaming the house to admire its décor.  I ended my curiosity on the partially burned sheepskin rugs near the fireplace to relax in its warmth and enjoy the remaining wine.

In the following days the hunters left the lodge in the wee hours, allowing me to sleep undisturbed and wake naturally. During these silent and dreamlike days, I read books and magazines, enjoyed fresh brewed espresso, took long baths and walked the grounds.  I embraced the solitude and managed quite nicely without any concerns. At lunchtime the hunters returned briefly to eat and rest.  Soon after they would leave for their afternoon hunt and I would dally around until roughly 5pm when it was time to report the kitchen.

Lucas, their young and funny gourmet chef, took me behind the scenes and allowed me to observe, chop, stir, roll and, best of all, taste until dinner was plated.   I would then join the hunters, once again, around a large wood dining table to savor fresh grilled steak accompanied by chimichurri sauce, saffron potatoes stuffed with fresh herbed butter and a delicate, but delicious dessert consisting of caramelized apples and homemade ice cream.

It wasn’t one particular moment, but the sum of this very personal experience that left me with a positive and rejuvenating impression.  My time in the pampas was reminiscent of endless days I spent in my youth that I had long forgotten about…and now, long to have.