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

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

At Last The Gaucho School is on Line ( )

I remember how it all started all that time ago. We’ve always been aware that when guests came to La Margarita they loved the fact that they were in the land of the gauchos. For many it was the reason why they came in the first place   They were always fascinated with the work of the gaucho, of the criollo horses they rode and of the work they did. What gauchos basically do is to look after cattle simple - but is it? They are the Argentine version of those cowboys who inhabited La Ponderosa with Ben Cartwright and sons. Good gauchos are a skilful people when working with horses and cattle. They  can make rounding up a herd of calves look easy  - that is until you try it! Their skill with horses is often second to none since most are born in the saddle and it’s a joy to watch them on a horse. When guests came they loved to watch the gauchos at work with cattle and leaping on to horses just like in those cowboy films we loved to watch when we were kids.

One day we were on the way back from a long ride we offer to The Pulperia Gervasio ( when in the other direction came a herd of calves being driven by about four  gauchos (two were lady gauchos  called chinos here). As we got nearer the gauchos invited our guests to work with them getting the calves into another field. Our guests were thrilled to be doing this and got stuck into the task immediately they didn’t need to be asked twice. This was the real thing and for the next half an hour our guests turned into gauchos and chinas! What a ride to the pulperia is turned out to be (   

It got me thinking about if we could offer on La Margarita more of this type of event where guests come and learn to do what gauchos do. After all you never know when the skills will come in handy! And so was born The Gaucho School.

We have had some trial events over the past year where we had some groups come to try the events we had planned to offer such as learning how to saddle gaucho style, round up calves, learn how to use a lasso etc to how it would worked. What came out of that was how obvious it was that the guests enjoyed it. Not only did they enjoy it but they absolutely loved it. Maybe its going back to our basic instincts when were all hunters. With this motivation of seeing how much the guests loved it The Gaucho School was born. This was over a year ago and over this time we have been putting the finishing touches to the school.  As mentioned we have had a number of groups to the estancia who came to participate in The Gaucho School events. The last of these groups was a group of students from Louisiana last week. To hear their shrikes of laughter as they entered into the spirit of The Gaucho School as they attempted to compete in such events as barrel racing, in corralling calves and competing against each was a joy to see. Watching for example how the groups solved how to saddle a horse correctly after being show a couple of times was fascinating 

Now we have at last got the web page done and we are open for business. I am really excited about the future for the school. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Recently we had Fabienne Coutuier   a well know journalist in her native country of Canada who was sent down by the national newspaper La Presse to write and take pictures of The Gaucho School in action . Fabienne loved it and so did her newspaper who published a great article about the school

So if you have dreams of being a gaucho for a few days now you know where you can come to fulfil that dream- vas a encantar!

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto

PS.  Really really sorry if you have contacted us over the past year to come attend The Gaucho School trails but we were inundated with request to come to the trails but we didn’t have enough space for everyone – we do now so please let us know if you would like to come we would love to see you here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Love the Autumn on the Estancia

Autumn riding with Jack
Summer is over and what a summer it was hot, sultry and wonderful. We had some lovely guests come to stay with us from all over the world. Some came to stay in the main house with all include while others come to stay in the self-catering rooms alias La Casa Rosada. Some came for just a few days some came for a lot longer – up to two weeks! Some came for the riding and some just to chill out and just watch the world go by while enjoying the shade of the trees in the park. No doubt about it we love having guests on the estancia. For me our guests bring the estancia alive as they share their experiences with us and long may it run.

Now the leaves are falling, the nights are getting chillier and the pool is now closed.  For me, although I love the summer, this is a lovely time of the year especially for those who want to do some serious riding. The heat of the summer has gone leaving us with   glorious sunny days without it being too hot, allowing us to ride any time for day. The long rides we offer are all available with the cooler air. A lovely ride out is to the little pueblo of Tapalque, on the way visiting the house of Roberto Campos to share his total enthusiasm for the gaucho life. Move on to the river and enjoy a picnic while the horses rest ready for the ride back – absolutely   wonderful to help you forget about the crazy city life (for more info on rides have a look on out web page)

In substitute of sitting around the pool many guest at this time of the year sit around the wonderful fire in the main living room in the evenings. All rooms have wood bring stoves or fires places and nothing beats sitting around a warm fire reading a book or simply chatting with others guests or staff glass of wine in hand! In what seems like a world going totally crazy the estancia without doubt offers a refuge from that craziness and autumn and the estancia is the perfect time to experience it for sure.

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Liza Nagode– horseperson exceptional

Liza in harmony with the gauchos 
Some time ago when Louisa was still with us I mentioned that it would be great if we could find an excellent horseperson from overseas to work full time on the estancia with gauchos.

The idea was to put that person in charge of the riding and horses. We have always had gauchos on the estancia and still do and still will. No doubt they can be exceptional horse people. But the very nature of the gaucho is to be a bit of a gypsy. They tend to move around and so sometimes it can be difficult to get consistency. Also they don’t speak English and many of the guests who come to us don’t speak Spanish so it can be a bit of a problem with communication.

Liza in her own country Slovinia with one of her own  horses
So we decided to place an advert for an expert horse person who was a foreigner and who could speak Spanish. We had many replies from some very well qualified applicants. We filtered them down until we came to two candidates. They were both excellent but Louisa (bless her) had a certain feeling for Liza from Slovenia. I argued that she, in my opinion, was to young at 23, that the gauchos with their macho ways would run all over her. However, Louisa insisted and won the argument and I am so happy she did.
Liza in competion

Liza had 13 years riding experience, owned her own horses, and had participated in numerous competitions in Slovenia, Austria, Italy and Guatemala in which she had done exceptionally well. She had moved on to study International affairs and Spanish in the USA. In the USA she also learned polo – Liza was our chosen one

Liza arrived at the estancia a couple   of months ago to take charge of the horses and riding. Her job was to look after the guests make sure they got the rides they wanted and the horses that suited them. She would be the guide and get help from the gauchos. I stepped back and waited for problems. They didn’t come. Liza got to it straight away and I can honestly say that she has (if it was possible) improved the riding on the estancia. With her energy, her dedication and her big winning smile for guests she has proved to be a winner in every sense for our guests and gauchos alike. She is with us til the end of August when she leaves to further her studies. She will be an exceptionally hard act to follow for sure and this a big blog thank you to Liza for coming to work for us .

If you come to the estancia I am sure you will agree that Liza as they say in Spanish is lo mas (the best)

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto

Friday, February 27, 2015

Here Comes the Cavalry – Welcome

Sadly Louisa Bowran our estancia manger had to leave us  (nothing last forever as they say) and  to take her exquisite smile to far of places to help save   other souls, break hearts and no doubt do a fine job for who ever needs her impressive management and horse skills. She did a great job for me here and I was sad to lose her but she did help me to choose her replacement and did a great job in doing so. So wherever the wind has blown you Louisa te lo agradezco.

David and his wife Cris (the chosen ones) who were living in El Salvador arrived to run the estancia over a month ago and from what I can see they look as though they have been running an estancia all their lives. They drove all the way from El Salvador with their truck and two little dogs to take up the challenge of running La Margarita. It was a drive of a month. They left on the 25th of Dec and arrived here on the estancia on the 21st Jan to take up the manager’s post. David is a professional chef and Cris is an administrator extraordinaire having worked for some top companies doing just that and making a super job of it. As a team they are amazing. It shows that they have worked together on other projects for years. They compliment each other and have fallen into the rhythm of running the estancia easily. David is of course in charge of the kitchen and with his cooking’s skills and his experience is making our menu even better. Together they are the perfect hosts their ability to make guest feel at ease during their say with us is impressive and their ability to solve problems is amazing. To say I am impressed is an understatement and if you decide to come to La Margarita I am sure that you will be as equally impressed as I am.
This is a big welcome ( a little bit late sorry ) to Cris and David thank you for coming and making it all look easy.    

This is David Cummings alias The English Gaucho hasta pronto