Monday, April 28, 2014

Childhood Dreams Come True: Estancia Rio Mitre

When I was a little girl I oftentimes could not fall asleep. I insisted that my mom lay down with me as I was afraid to be alone during the night.  But often when she left I remained awake, my mind turning. I was terrified that I would die during my sleep. Of a heart attack.

<I did not realize this was an irrational fear for a young, healthy girl.>

To distract myself I would focus on happy thoughts, the happiest I could imagine.

At this point in my life those thoughts revolved around the idea of galloping through a wide open field, surrounded by open space and faraway mountains. This was my happy, safe place.

The drive to the estancia- looks about right to me
You can barely see the sign, but it's this way, to the left!
It turns out that when I was in my happy place, I was dreaming about an estancia in Patagonia.

Estancia means 'ranch' in Spanish and these farms range from rustic to extravagant and are scattered across Argentina. From the beginning of our planning, reading about ranches reignited some strong childhood desire to live on a ranch one day and I vowed to find one (within our budget) to visit.

After a lot of research, I found Estancia Rio Mitre.  Many estancias in Argentina charge hundreds of dollars just for a room; this estancia included a hostel and though the rooms were very basic, they were also very reasonably priced.

Sheep right outside the estancia
We were greeted at Rio Mitre estancia by Esteben, the generous owner of the thousand acre ranch. The ranch has been in Esteben's family for three generations; ever since the beginning of settlement in the region. Esteben speaks no English but gave us an incredibly warm welcome.

View from the dining room of the estancia

Lorenzo, bringing some horses into the corral in the morning
Within an hour of arriving, we climbed on our first horse. I should mention, that I had never galloped across open fields. I took English riding lesson as a child but for whatever reason (multiple, according to my mom) I stopped riding horses before entering junior high. But I still thought of riding often.  As a teenager I daydreamed of working on a dude ranch out West. It might sound strange, but even after so many years without riding, I still feel connected to the idea of riding.

My idea of riding isn't traditional in the sense of a desire to take lessons or compete or ride around in a circle as I did in my childhood.  It is the desire to be outside, in nature, on a horse. Pretty pure and simple. And, of course, galloping. What rider doesn't dream of galloping and feeling your body move as one with the horse? 
This sheep, striking a majestic pose for us just outside the estancia
The weather was stunning and though we were both not sure what we were really doing, it felt good to get outside and give it a go.

First day's ride, feeling pretty content

Taking in the views
We kind of look like we know what we are doing. Maybe.
We had 3 nights at the estancia but only one full day at the ranch that we reserved for a longer ride and so I awoke the next morning anxious for a full day in the saddle.

The rainbow our second morning was beautiful
But the dark sky is not a great sign...
We rode with Esteben's son, Zelmar, for our longer ride. Lucky for us, Zelmar just finished University in Buenos Aires and speaks English well. He was able to give us some much needed pointers to get comfortable on the horses. BUT, it rained. And by rained, I mean really rained.

A much needed stop to dry off, warm up, and enjoy lunch during our rainy ride
This is my type of packed lunch...
Charles enjoying his steak sandwich and vino
Maybe if I drink enough I won't notice the rain
The ride finished 3 hours later and while we were soaked, it was an amazing day. We hadn't necessarily planned on a 3rd ride, but I was still craving more, especially since our longer ride had been tainted by the rain so we set out on our final day with Lorenzo for one more ride. 

Lorenzo, helping me get adjusted for our last ride before departing. 
One great thing about Lorenzo was that he simply led the way and let us follow (or catch up) at our leisure

Soaking it all in, I am one happy girl

Charles looks pretty happy too
The ride combined everything that I had been looking for: huge blue skies, looming mountains, and galloping horses. In short, it was amazing. No, better than that. It was a dream come true.  

1 comment:

  1. I can definitely understand why you would want to live in the farm. Just the sight of those calm fields and the refreshing smell of nature can take your breath away! It shows how satisfying living in the countryside can be. It’s great that you were able to experience this feeling for yourself. Cheers!

    Darren Lanphere @ Mirr Ranch Group