Argentina Discoveries: Unique Culture of the Gauchos

World Nomads' Gloria Atanmo travels to Salta and Patagonia to meet the cowboys of Argentina, and learn about their proud traditions.

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Deeply rooted in Argentina’s history, the Gaucho culture is still very much alive. Join Gloria as she saddles up and rides with the skilled local horsemen on a trip through the countryside, participates in traditional Argentine dances, and samples the nation’s diet staple, beef, in a traditional Gaucho feast.

Gaucho: It was raining hard at the Mojon farm. Everybody looked like they were worshiping the bonfire and out of the blue an old man said I’m going to tell you a story, now that the water and wind have brought back old memories. I will reveal things nobody knew about me while I try to hold myself back from bursting into tears. If God, who gave patience to my heart, comes at this time, he will help the soul of this old man to find relief at the end of his life as he waits on the final line.

Gloria Atanmo: Gaucho's are very protective people they look after the land, they look after their family, they look after cattle. Their culture and their tradition and their day-to-day life is very much accurate and it's not a show for tourists. It was just great getting to as to why Gaucho lifestyle is incredible, why the north of Argentina is so unique.

So Agustin is a man who lives in the Estancia that we were at. He is from a family of Gaucho after Gaucho after Gaucho so much history in the house that he lives in. His entire lifestyle was basically built around the Gaucho life and he's gone abroad, he's traveled, he's worked in the city, but the land called him back.

So this place is beautiful! Can you tell me how old this house is?

Agustin: My ancestor build it in 1760. I am the ninth generation, my children's tenth.

Gloria Atanmo: The horses! So much fun! That has definitely been the highlight of this trip. They gave me a poncho, they gave me a hat. The ponchos are so cute, girl! I would rock that everyday. So we're going for a joy ride. These horses are so well mannered, so well trained, so you can have one hand free and then the other hand, this is like your joystick to steer. All those years of playing Mario Kart, knew it would pay off.

Being in the Gaucho culture, and amongst this gorgeous, mountainous area, everything was just incredible. I was like, "Okay I am basically a Gaucho now, a Gaucha." So I was really excited about it.

What makes you the most proud to be a Gaucho?

Agustin: The love for the land. It's the first, because it's the very freedom style. The community for the Gauchos is very nice, drink mate, eat asado, dance and the new generation like. You can see many small children help their fathers with the animals, I don't know, that is a great life.

Gloria Atanmo: Asado! I don't know how anyone is in shape here. All they eat is meat. When you're in Argentina, get rid of your vegetarianism, your veganism, your pescatarianism, you gotta eat the meat because it is so good! And asado is very much social, you know it's about putting meat on the grill, throwing back a couple beers, talking to family, friends, catching up, and yeah it's cooked with love. You can taste the love inside that meat. It's just so fresh and pure and yeah it's amazing. Oh, still feeling it.

It was such a pleasant surprise to get the little performance from the kiddos. And they were shimmying their shoulders and the men were very machismo and then they grabbed my hand and we got in a circle and we were doing things that they would do at weddings. Yeah, that was a great experience to have.

I would've never even imagined that that lifestyle existed. Or that culture or that area or region was a thing. So I think it's so important for travelers, tourists who come here that are looking for like, authentic experiences, to really look at work in estancias and the north region of Argentina and yeah, I 100% recommend it. 

The estancia in Patagonia was drop dead gorgeous. The fields, and the valleys and the lake in the back, it just looked so scenic and picturesque. Gauchos in the south are much more laid back. They have preserved their tradition, but their fashion and their style is different. They don't have as much sun as they get in the north, obviously it's colder in the south and in Patagonia, so they have this very round, French-looking hat, they don't really wear the collars but they have like the long sleeve working shirts and the pants are different. The shoes are almost like those flats, I think I wore them in high school. But yeah, it's just completely different.

Gloria Atanmo: Hola Santiago!

Santiago: Hello, hello Gloria. Welcome to Nibepo Aike.

Gloria Atanmo: Thank you!

Gloria Atanmo: Santiago is amazing and getting to meet a Gaucho from the south and the Patagonia region, was really cool.

Santiago: Oh here in the family, all days are different because we have many activities during all the year. We have to go out in the farm and have a look how are the cows and the sheep, and the fences are okay? We have different outposts around and we have to go and visit our Gauchos all around the farm.

Gloria Atanmo: What would you say is the best and worst part about your job, working and managing?

Santiago: The worst part? I don't know, maybe the weather? Sometimes rainy or windy. And the best thing is being outside and all the time you are discovering new things, it's great, it's really nice.

Gloria Atanmo: The sheep shearing for some reason, it was very confrontational for me. They start rounding up the sheep, and the sheep are going in circles, I'm like "Oh my God this is so cute!" So I take out my phone and then all of the suddenly [he] grabs one around the neck and then it's just like choking it more and then obviously the sheep was like getting a little restless and then I see it wrangle it and then they take it to the back. It was just the way he tugged at it and just choking it's neck. These are animals but they have feelings and they can feel pain as well. I had a moment where I actually I'm like "Why am I crying?" You don't even realize what your body is going through but you just, your emotion, your heart is just tugged so strongly.

Santiago: Maybe it's hard to see this kind of activity but it's like how we used to live.

Gloria Atanmo: I'm glad that that happened and I'm glad that I saw it because it definitely, was a reality check for me. I travel because I am so curious about cultures around the world and I am genuinely interested in people. At surface level we just all want to be loved and sheltered and have food on the table. And we can connect on that level, like "Oh you know, I just need to eat, "you need to eat. You have a faith, "let me see how you practice your religion. "let me see how you spend time with family." There is no right or wrong and I think, growing up in the States I was taught like, "Okay this is the way we do things. "This is the right way, this is the only way." And then you go to other countries, you're like, "Oh they do it differently." And that's the word, it's different but it's not wrong. And once we get over that mentality that the way that we learned it growing up whatever in our first-world countries wherever, that's not the only or the right way and so traveling to other countries and seeing how they do things, that's why I love traveling.

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1 Comment

  • Camille said

    Just watched this video. I know it's almost 2 years old but had to comment because ... I'm not sure why she was so jarred by the treatment of the sheep when she had no problem enjoying the asado. And in that same vein, it seemed a bit hypocritical (not to mention insensitive) to say something like forget your veganism in Argentina to enjoy a delicious fresh asado and then start crying when the sheep was taken to a stable to be, not slaughtered, but shorn. It was strange that her way of rationalizing everything was to say that people in different cultures do things in different ways, which is true, but she's implying that where she's from (presumably the US), people are kinder to farm animals (which we know is not true), and that she's simply being tolerant of "different" ways of doing things. If she really wanted to create an insightful moment in the video, she would have acknowledged the connection between the asado festivities and the sheep-shearing experience, possibly commenting on her varying responses to both but also making that connection between the treatment of animals and eating meat. Interesting video on the gauchos but the host just seems a bit naive. Let's eat some slaughtered animals then cry over some sheep then say it's just the way people do things in Argentina (???) ... No tiene sentido :/

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