An Estancia and Los Consagradas en Buenos Aires
Our private bus takes us out past the domestic airport, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and the brick, wire and cardboards slums known as the villas miserias (literally miserable towns) and into the Argentinian countryside. It is a wide green and flat landscape, with businesses and houses beside the main road - the better neighbourhoods, as in any city, are away from the highway. An hour and a half outside Buenos Aires we arrive at our Estancia. Here some of us will ride horses, some will experience a ride in a buckboard - not for the first time is it a reminder of how much padding one needs and how uncomfortable was this form of travel when it was all one had. This visit is on our itinerary and we are all looking forward to a day in the country, lunch and learning something about life on the properties of the gauchos.
Lunch is an asado (bbq) - of course! The Argentinian barbecue is a big production - sausages, beef and chicken are spread across the racks above the coals and the meal is also big.
This Estancia has a farmhouse set up as a museum of the 19th and early twentieth century with all the domestic aids and household goods as they would have been. For the cooks among us the kitchen is a fascinating record of the times.
After lunch the gauchos show off their skills rounding up the horses, racing for a ring for the lady of their choice and displaying their skills as horsemen.
We head home in the middle of the afternoon - in time for a quick nap and to get ready for tonight's milonga which is Milonga de los Consagrados. This milonga is held in another of the beautiful dance halls on the first floor of an old building. Packed with dancers, mixed tables and women and men lining each side of the floor, this is another ideal milonga for those who love the music of the Golden Age, dancing with the milongueros and enjoying their company. It runs from mid afternoon officially until
10 pm but we are still there and dancing after 11. A taxi ride back to the hotel (grand sum of about $4, a coffee in the hotel cafe (which is open all night!) and welcome sleep!
On the way home in the taxi I think about the friend who decided not to come with us partly because she was told she would not get any dances! This comes to mind because another friend, El Kanguru, told me as I was leaving that he never goes to the late night milongas because the chicas (young women) do not dance with men of his age. The women in our group have all danced with the local milongueros - and generally, we are getting just as many dances as we would at the milongas in Sydney. Which makes me think that it is the milongas that you go to that dicate whether you dance, not the fact that you are an unknown tourist dancer.