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Green rolling hills and long quiet country roads led us to Panagea Ranch where Juan and Susann welcomed us in to spend four days ‘playing Gaucho’ in rural Uruguay.

The term gaucho can loosely be defined as “cowboy” though it refers more to a nomadic group that lived off the land from the very south in Patagonia, to the west in the Andes and all the way to the southern state of Parana in Brazil. A distinctive part of Uruguayan culture, the gauchos are known as proud, fierce horsemen and remain a symbol against corruption even today.

We spent the next four days riding horses, herding cattle and sheep, assisting (though you might have to check with Juan if we actually did help) the gauchos, feeding the orphaned animals, playing badminton and stuffing ourselves with the most amazing meals – all made on a wood-burning stove by Susann. Gourmet gaucho meals mean real potato salad, the most delicious beef, green salads with organic lettuce from the garden, vegetarian options and other tasty delights.  We had seconds at every meal…good thing gaucho pants are pretty roomy.

The estancia (ranch) is a true getaway.  Secluded in the countryside and limited to 2 hours of electricity per day (7:30 to 9:30pm – by generator) one can find the time to relax, think, read, walk  – encompassed in a comfortable silence where you can hear the beat of a hummingbird’s wings.

Playing Gaucho from Kels M on Vimeo.

We bought these babies to ring in the new year Latin American style, wearing red undies on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring good fortune in love and romance.

Ropa interior rojo were in high demand and a little hard to find but we managed to track some down in a crowded clothing market in Granada the day before.

A couple other interesting Spanish New Year’s traditions include;

  • Eating twelve [red] grapes while making a wish for each of the twelve months.
  • Those hoping to increase their financial prospects should wear yellow.
  • Packing a suitcase and walking around the block is recommended for those wanting travel during the new year.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season – we’ll have more in a few days.