We have spent the last 2 weeks adjusting to life in the country. It is utterly idyllic in so many ways, accompanied with its own new set of ‘familytravels’ challenges. Overwhelmingly though, the girls are thriving on some sunshine, the sense of stability and routine, an epic garden, and most crucially, ponies.
We rented this house and a plot of land in the Puerto Panal nature reserve (about an hour north of BA) for the entirety of October and November. The house is a wonderful mixture of modern and traditional (think huge glass walls looking out onto a blazingly green garden, with tall beamed ceilings and roaring log fires for the cold nights). There are about 150 large plots of land here where wealthy Argentinians ‘weekend’. The compound is fenced, and consists of nothing but horses (everywhere – literally), houses, a communal tennis court, and the clubhouse (which warrants a blog post of its own). It backs onto the reserve (direct access) which makes for great hacking and picnics by the river. There is tonnes of security so the girls can cycle around and enjoy some yet unknown freedom.
Life here is a far cry from the crazy maxed-out London racket we careered around for the last 10 years. We pick grapefruits and lemons from trees in the garden for breakfast / G&Ts respectively (actually the grapefruits go quite well in the G&Ts too….). Wildlife abounds, my favourites so far being the burrowing owls, lagarto lizards, white-eared possum, fireflies, and the hares that race around in search of a better blade of grass…… I have resumed my early morning runs. Its deliciously flat going, but still throws out spectacular nature and sunrises to tickle the endorphin highs.
We seem to spend an unfeasible amount of time on domestic matters, which doesn’t really compute since we also have a maid (justified on account of the dishwasher not working…). A trip to the local town to pick up sausages for the asado (the best ones are handmade on Thursdays and only Thursdays apparently…..), curry combs for B & E to beautify the horses, and to scour all the fruterias for any kind of acceptable vegetable matter seems to take up the full 4 hours that the girls are ‘in school’ with Robert. On the plus side though we are forced to use our limited Spanish a bit more and my repertoire of conversationalists has expanded to include the waxing lady (who’s name I can’t pronounce), Jose the gaucho (who we rented the horses off), and Claudia the (superstar) maid who barrels along at the speed of light in an indecipherable accent. This morning she treated me to a 20 minute monologue about the state of the Argentinian economy (or may be she just needed more bleach (passionately)…).
Having horses around is therapeutic in extremis. They basically live in the garden, so you wake up with their heads peering into the bedroom window, and they frequently investigate lunch on the terrace in case there are carrots involved. Whilst we like the familiarity and proximity, it does result in a fair whack of poo-picking, but the girls negotiated a rate of 30c per poo (it was supposed to be 25p per poo, but Em pointed out that the pound is weak against the dollar, and we pay in dollars, so it should be 30c………… so i capitulated on the condition they do their own maths).
We head out for long hacks into the nature reserve roughly every other day, and in between times do some jumping, gymkhana games, or bareback riding. Thats when we have managed to catch the buggers….
We have started meeting some of the neighbours, and had our first ‘come back for red wine and empanadas’ night last weekend. More of those please! Burn your mouth on scalding pastry/mince, washed down by the most drinkable plonk ever, while the sun sets. Doesn’t get much better than that (minus the mosquitos).
Every day or so something throws us eg:
- On Friday night there was a huge storm with lightning that illuminated the sky like it was daylight. This was followed by a battering of golf-sized hailstones which bounced off our tin roof in a manner reminiscent of armageddon. Luckily we were tucked up cosy in bed, and had placed buckets in all the required places to catch the worst leaks. I got to sing ‘raindrops and roses’ in bed with the girls, which pretty much rounds out my quotient of maternal fulfilment.
- Last night there was some kind of cow invasion. About 9pm it sounded like there were about 1000 of them dumped in the next door field bellowing blue murder. They were still hollering this morning morning, but I couldn’t find them out on my run, so the mystery endures!
- Pinto regularly plays disconcertingly dead, and doesn’t get up even when you stroke/poke him
- We’ve had a couple of really cold nights, and the local firewood spits out the most incredible spark shows.
The girls have continued to blow us away with their weekly project reviews. The day we left Buenos Aires we were invited to a hot VIP private view at the new ‘Galeria de Escultura’. We were issued tickets, frisked, and then given a delicious drink to enjoy while we perused the unique and aesthetic art works.
Next up was the nail-biting prototype of Risk Reward which is a cunning game of South American general knowledge, maths, physical challenges, strategy, Spanish and a modicum of luck. It comprised some good game theory, and a tough set of rules. Somehow the creators managed to win out….
We have another week settled here before a half-term getaway, then back for November when the summer should really kick in.