Gauchos and Argentineans - My Family Travels
South America Christmas 2008 301
South America Christmas 2008 288
South America Christmas 2008 257

Each year, for our Christmas present, my family goes on an exotic vacation in place of a Christmas present. For those of you who are just now reading my blog, I’ve been gone for over two weeks on this year’s holiday, a cruise around Cape Horn. I’m writing this from the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s been a fun-packed day so far, but first I’m going to give a brief summary of our trip. We arrived in Chile completely exhausted from the long flight from Idaho. We boarded our Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Sun, but our traveling companions, my cousins, the Quinonez, nearly missed boarding the ship because they were late. To start off our adventures in Chile, we went on nature hikes around volcanoes in Puerto Montt and saw wild penguins in Punta Arenas. My family and I celebrated both Christmas and New Year’s Day on the Sun. We saw glaciers as we passed through Tierra del Fuego and were baptized crossing Cape Horn. That water was really cold. We even stopped in the Falkland Islands and saw authentic British architecture including a red phone booth. In Montevideo, my group tried an authentic Uruguayan barbeque. As a side comment, don’t order an assortment of roasted “carne”, because we still don’t know what we ate.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

The last day of the trip is today and we ended in Buenos Aires. We decided to try a tour the cruise line was offering. We had no idea this excursion would be the most memorable part of the entire trip. The first part of the day was a two-hour bus tour around Buenos Aires. Our guide talked about the culture and the politics of Argentina as well as explained the sights; probably the most memorable was Casa Rosado (Pink House). Our escort pointed out the balcony where Eva Peron would talk to her people. Eva Peron was the wife of an Argentinean president and the benefactor of the people.

After the tour of Buenos Aires was over, we went to an actual Argentinean ranch. The gauchos, similar to North American cowboys, were performing a traditional dance when we arrived. Not wanting the tourist to feel left out, the gauchos selected dance partners from the crowd. My cousin, Danielle, was picked out immediately by a gaucho around her age named Alfredo. I was also coerced into dancing with one of the women. Danielle was a better dancer.

After the dance, the gauchos showed us more of their culture. We rode horses, ate authentic cuisine and observed some traditional games. My favorite game is ring lancing, a sport that was created centuries ago. The men galloped across a field with a lance and tried to knock a metal ring down from a tree. The gaucho would then give the ring to a girl and kiss her. That’s probably the best prize for a winning a game I’ve ever heard of. Alfredo was the first gaucho to hook a ring and he immediately dismounted the horse and kissed Danielle. My uncle asked Alfredo to kiss Danielle again so he could take a picture of it. We left shortly after that for the airport. I just barely said goodbye to the Quinonez and am waiting another hour for the plane. Our family will search high and low to find a trip that will beat this one. So far this has been my favorite vacation and my family's tradition of trading travel for presents is a tradition I want to continue with my own family.

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