Here's why you should come and stay on the Estancia La Margarita ....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Alway the Same Thank Goodness!

Here in Argentina surprisingly for some we do have a winter. There are a few months in the middle of the year when its gets pretty cold and we light the fires and seek out our old sweaters and thermals.

Don’t get me wrong I love a cold winters day walk in the pampas on the estancia I really do. But like many people I look forward  to the spring arriving and arrive it does without fail. It always the same thank goodness. It   seems to always arrive suddenly. One day we can be huddled around the fire with warm sweaters on and the next day the flowers are out, the horses are shedding that winter look and grass grows quicker.

The sun has more heat in it and the sky is that much bluer. It’s at this moment we start to think about getting the pool ready for the warm days ahead.  Gingerly we take the cover of and see what has to be done. It’s usually a quick paint job that’s needed and that’s it. We fill it up with water and hey presto its ready for jumping into. I have to confess in the first few days that’s only for the brave. The water for the pool comes from underground springs and is very cold when it goes into the pool. It takes a little while for the heat of the sun to warm it up. But that doesn’t stop some guests from wanting to jump into its inviting coolness for a very refreshing swim and they are welcome to do so.  As the spring advances a few days the grass starts getting cut and we are left with that lovely smell of fresh cut grass. The trees are trimmed back and the horses are brushed more as they shed their winter coats. It’s an active time for sure as the days get longer and the horse rides go out each day a little later to catch the glorious sunsets in the pampas.

No doubt about spring it’s a glorious time to be spending on the estancia and each year we have returning guests who love to stay here on those spring days so we get to see old familiar faces which is lovely. Some guests have been coming for years to enjoy those first days of spring and its great to catch up with them and talk about what’s been going on in their lives and of course ours.

If you love the spring you will love it on the estancia we look forward to welcoming you one day glorious spring day.

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tierra de Gauchos: My Six-Month Journey- Blogged by Liza Nagode Our ex- super china ( Argentine word for lady gaucho)

I came to Estancia La Margarita responding to the job ad of “Horse Manager.” Beside my long history of horseback riding, one of my main reasons was to challenge myself. Being an introvert, I always found it very energy consuming to stay around too many people for longer periods of time. I believe having solid people skills is very important and my nature made me doubt that I possess this kind of talents. What better way to practice than by accepting job in hospitality. Thus, I took a risk that could possibly leave me stranded in the middle of the grassy plains of the pampas or could lead to one of the best experiences ever. I am glad to say it was the latter.
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I was told during the interview that my job would mainly involve leading guests on short and long rides offered by the estancia, taking care of horses and tack, and helping around the estate when needed. I never imagined the job would prove to be so rewarding. Herding horses while watching the sunrise and letting them run freely at the sunset quickly became my favorite parts of the day, always bringing a wide smile on my face. Moreover, leading rides enabled me to meet many wonderful people who were visiting from all over the world. Some were vacationing, others quit their jobs to travel the world, and some were taking a gap year. A great majority was very enthusiastic about horses and riding, even though many had little or no experience. We would always have fun sharing stories and cantering across the plains, and there were many people who passed through that I hope to see again soon.       

Upon my arrival my trainers became local gauchos. Despite occasional disagreements, I liked working with them whenever I got the chance. They introduced me to the estancia horses and trails, and taught me many tricks. Growing up surrounded by sport horses and equitation riders, I was naturally amazed by their horsemanship skills that allowed them to lasso a calf while galloping across the open pasture. It was thanks to them and our vet that I got to do things I never even dreamed of doing, such as helping to castrate a young bull.  

However, nothing quite compared with the team I was able to work with on a day-to-day basis. Cris and David, the managers who arrived only six days prior to me, became my family. We learned and grew together. It didn’t take long for the estancia to become our home and we poured all our energy into making it clean and comfortable, and its atmosphere welcoming for our guests. Job titles meant little; we all worked together and did everything we could to help each other (that’s how David and I spent a day ear tagging cattle and working with the local vet). Of course, we wouldn’t be able to do it without Nell and Sara, two hard working volunteers that became my dear friends, constant support of David (the owner), and our supporting team. Each day was different and we all agreed that was the beauty of our job. We were able to spent 90 percent of our working day outside, surrounded by animals, wonderful people, and the tranquil sea of grass.    

To me, it was the growing love for the estancia and the power of nature that pushed me forward. Naturally, I had days when I just wanted to be somewhere else. However, no matter how difficult the day was, in the evening when I took a walk with the estancia dogs or went for a run and I became encircled by nothing but horses and cattle free to range at will over the vast pastures of the pampas, I was reminded how lucky I was to call this a job. I would always admire the fields illuminated by the setting sun. The bright colors never failed to refill me with positive energy.

Every experience, every trip I take changes me in a way. As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, in the cradle of pure nature for over six months I became calmer and happier. Very basic lifestyle taught me how little we need to be happy and I truly came to value experiences and life-long memories over things. Furthermore, I always had difficulties trusting life and my journey. I was rushing through, thinking that I should have it all figured out. Now I know that even though I have no clue where I want to be in a year, that’s ok. Valuing the moment is what matters and what eventually leads us to the future.

I shall forever cherish my Margarita experience, the people it brought to my life, and the lessons it taught me.       


Liza Nagode

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What’s Driving like in Argentina

One of the questions guests ask themselves or us before coming to Estancia La Margarita ( ) is how to get here. There are basically three options i.e. by bus, by taking a taxi or by renting a car and driving here. Lots of guests opt for the first option as its pretty cheap and easy. Others have decided to rent a car and take in some other sites while on the road to La Margarita visiting say Mar de Plata ( to see what all the fuss is about in Argentina’s top coastal resort or they head down to the Sierra de Ventanas a gorgeous hilly area in Provincia about 200kms from La Margarita (

Many that have chosen to drive here  have asked me what’s driving like in Argentina. Since I have driven here for the past 12 years and experienced all sorts of driving conditions I fell pretty qualified to answer the question.

First thing to remember is that Argentine drives on the right  ( just bear that in mind if you are from a left driving country.

This did have brakes thank goodness!
Over the years driving here has got less and less how shall we say precarious. Course that doesn’t mean its totally safe but it is a lot better for sure than say 15 years ago. When I first came here and started to drive it was just after the financial crises. I was amazed at the state of the cars that were being used to drive on the roads here. Talk about being held together with rubber bands and cello tape. I used to take pictures of these cars that amazingly still started up and crawled along the Argentine roads. These cars presented all sorts of hurdles re- safe driving here. The old bangers were precarious to say the least as regards many had little or no brakes and steering was gangster driving at its best. They crawled along the roads causing all sorts of congesting as cars tried to over take them and many had accidents as well with no brakes so how could they stop gulp! It seemed the police didn’t think they were a problem as they sailed through any road checks. That or they were  just too afraid to  try and stop them  for fear of being run over  (goodness knows what the roads checks where looking for so few of these bangers seemed to be stopped). Just to illustrate how bad the situation was. When I went to buy a second hand truck for the estancia about 13 years ago I pointed out to one owner after taking his truck for a test drive that it had no brakes. He casually said it’s not the brakes that are important it’s the engine just use the gears to stop!

Over the years as the economy has improved so did the standard of the cars and the old bangers  are gradually disappearing. Don’t get me wrong there are still many  on the road but much fewer these days. The thing to watch out for these days if you are driving up to 150 kms outside of the city is speed. In the porteños (ño ) desperation  to leave the city and get to those  wonderful green open spaces of Provincia called la pampas they speed as in the film! Thing is there is very little control to stop them. There are very few speed cameras and no speed cops. For those of you who hate speed cameras apart from the first 40-50klm, leaving the city you won’t find any obstacle to stop you doing a ton on the roads of Argentina   - just watch out for loose cows and horse though!

There are few motorways in Argentina. Those that exist go from BA to Cordoba and BA to Mar del Plata . These roads are good but are to be avoided on the bank holidays called feriados here ( ). In fact the time to avoid them is the same as in any other country when it comes to holidays i.e.  the day before the holiday and the day of the return. Outside of these times the roads can be pretty empty and the driving can be carefree. Here’s a tip - a good time to drive on the weekend is between 12-4pm as many Argentines are with their family enjoying an asado  ( ) and the roads can be spookily empty. I often drive back to the city or to the estancia within these hours

One thing not to forget is that there are a lot of trucks on the road in Argentina. Many are huge trucks carrying cows and other livestock or agriculture products. Be careful when over taking them and always always look in your rear view mirror, as Argentines seem to like a threesome meaning three cars across the road. They will see you overtaking and then proceed to overtake you while you are overtaking. The first time this happened to me my heart was in my mouth but as times have worn on I have got pretty used to it. Certainly be a bit more careful in your drive for the first say 150 kms as you drive out or enter the city. These roads are dominated by the crazy porteños escaping or entering the city who drive too fast with little police control  (although that is changing).

After about 150 kms things start to clam down somewhat and oddly its not because there is more control, in fact there is less! I put it down to all those cows and sheep grazing in the fields calming everyone down. I have to say once that short bit of adrenaline filled porteños part is over it can be a pleasure to drive in Argentina with its fabulous scenery to melt your heart.

Hiring a car here is not cheap for sure. You need to shop around to get the best rate but once again be warned it not so cheap. Also be prepared to get a car that doesn’t meet what they said they would be giving you. If this happens so put up a fight and you may get something better – umm maybe

Petrol cost today (but check if you are driving tomorrow this is Argentina!) is around 1US$ a litre.

Be sure to carry your driving licence with you as it’s a legal requirement whereas a passport is not.

There are numerous road checks. These are in place to check for stolen cars and overloaded trucks. In the main the police are polite and providing all in is order will salute you on your way in a few minutes with smile

Over the years we have had lots of guests who have hired cars to come to the estancia and all have survived. They have had the freedom of the road and their comments have in the main been good about their experience re -driving here so don’t let this blog put you off it will be well worth it Argentina is a great country to get lost in.

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Is it Safe to Travel?

Over the years since I owned La Margarita I have been asked by potential guests how safe is it to come to Argentina.   Many females travelling alone asked this question. There is no doubt that all of South America has a bit of a reputation as being a bit on the wild side, a little bit dangerous so to speak. But is it justified?  Is it safe for example for women to travel alone and is it advisable. Thing is as we all know travelling anywhere has its dangers and certainly Argentina is no different.

Liza travelled alone from Slovenia 
Take precautions. Make sure you don’t go to no- go areas in Buenos Aires and there are some believe me. However, I am from London and there are plenty of no-go areas in London to be widely avoided. However, we have had many single female travellers who have come to Argentina who commented on how they felt very safe in Buenos Aires and Argentina as a whole, some even saying they felt safer than in their own country. And many said that travelling down from BA to the estancia was a breeze.

Of course with Google these days it’s easy to look up the areas to be avoided and those to visit. The biggest complaint in BA is mainly the wolf whistles that a single girl may get if she is walking in the city.  However, on talking to many guests who have come it’s more of a newspaper alarmism than a genuine complaint – does happed for sure but not sure that it can be termed dangerous.

We have also had many families traveling with children on the estancia, some as young as one year old. I never heard one of the parents complain how dangerous it was. Of course those that hired cars were treated to the terrible Argentina driving however, you can also be treated to that in Milan or Portugal where for me it is worse.
David and Cris travelled from El Salvador to the La Margarita
David and Cris who now run La Margarita for me travelled down by car from El Salvador to the estancia. It took them one month to get here. They passed through some of the alleged most dangerous countries in South America such as Columbia and El Salvador itself. They weren’t robbed, attacked, harmed or threatened during their trip. They only have wonderful things to say about the trip and the people they meet on their journey. Course they could have been lucky who knows but I am not sure. Over the years I have meet many travellers who have passed through these countries and they have been fine.

In the UK a trip from Hove (in the south of England)  to Worthing in the south of England would be ranked as one of the safest journeys on the world I reckon. But yesterday (17th July 2015) a 79-year-old man was involved in a car crash and the other driver got out of his car and brutally stabbed the old man to death. In many cases when it all goes wrong it’s normally a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time – sadly nothing more and that’s what  tragically happened to Mr Lock. 
Nel ( 21) from the UK travelled alone for 3 months

Traveling always involves some risk no matter where you travel – some countries are riskier than others without doubt. Is it worth that risk that is the questions to ask yourself. In my mind there is no doubt to travel is a wonderful thing. We can be involved in other cultures, listen to different languages, eat different food and meet wonderful people. It’s a privilege to be able to do this  - get packing its definitely worth the risk!

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto