We are now in gaucho country, where instead of surf boards all of the Uruguayans have saddles. Our first Estancia or ranch, Pinos, was named because the owner had planted 450,000 beautiful pine trees on the property. We were so happy and excited to ride horses and see all of the animals.
Our first day there we held baby goats that were only two days old; they were soft and super adorable. Their mom refused to feed one of the babies so the owners had to feed her warm goat’s milk from a bottle.
We went on amazing horseback rides each morning and evening. My favorite ride was when we went out while a storm was brewing. On the way back we road in the rain across a river and through forest like terrain.
Later in the week we saw a four day old foal that was pitch black and his mom was snow white, (not to be confused with the Disney character). We learned that when the baby gets older he will turn from black to white. I was falling in love with all of the horses.
The last night at Pinos there was an amazing sunset after the storm and the entire sky turned a fluorescent orange. It was a perfect end to our fabulous stay.
The next morning, on our way to Panagea, our next Estancia, the roads were really bad. We had to stop and strategize a way to get over a big puddle. We made it over the first one and thought we would be alright but we were so wrong. Driving along a little further we saw a raging river. There was no way our little rental car would make it over. My dad waded across the river and ran to find help. An hour later a truck came and every one grabbed their bags, put them on their heads and waded across the river. This was our first of many fun adventures at Panagea.
It was a working ranch so we had the chance to get down and dirty with the animals, just as if we worked there ourselves. It was not as fancy as Pinos, but I liked it so much more. We got to herd cattle and sheep. Which one do you think is harder? If you said sheep you are right. You would think cows, but they are herded more often so the cows were easier. Once we herded the cows to the pen we put them through a narrow wooden chute. Then we took the younger cows and gave them their yearly vaccination, just like when we go to the doctor for our childhood vaccinations. We also branded cows, which means we burned their logo into the cow’s skin with an iron rod. The smell of burning flesh was a bit disturbing.
Later in the day we learned to saddle our horses and we even had the chance to take them for a run across the fields. The Uruguayan saddle is covered with a sheepskin pad which makes it ten times cozier than the English or western saddle. Every night at Panagea we had a delicious dinner by a burning fire under the stars, just like summer time in Santa Barbara. I hope we decide to move back to a ranch because I desperately want a horse of my own.