Thursday, July 15, 2010

San Antonio de Areco Argentina

The Gaucho Festival in the small town of San Antonio de Areco boasts streets of low, whitewashed houses, a tiny tree-shaded plaza, and a big river -full of turtles- running nearby under shrieking parrots from their communal nests. 
The day of the festival the local troops of horses gathered under the sun-dappled trees in a large meadow, boggy from the recent rains. The families who brought them in camp under the trees and set up barbecues where sides of beef skewered on sticks are sizzling over fires. As for the horses, only the lead, or mother horse is tethered, the rest clustered around her, occasionally flurrying round in a circle, then coming to rest peacefully. 

The men are dressed in the gaucho uniform of loose, fringed trousers (bombachas), soft leather boots - some with spurs, broad leather belts studded with silver motifs and a sheathed knife stuck through the back, loose white shirt, neckerchief and the ubiquitous beret. They are preparing their lead horses with saddles over colourful wool or sheepskin blankets, bridles glittering with silver motifs, their tails cut neatly at the end, their manes combed. Some men have ponchos thrown casually over one shoulder or tied round their waists. The women who are to take part in the parade wear tight-waisted, puffed-sleeve, long frilled skirts of sprigged cotton. 

At the time of the parade the troops set off from the meadow, along the lane and around the town. The owners families, proud in their short black jackets and hard-rimmed hats, ride ahead, hand on hip, the other skilfully guiding the horse. Some have wives, daughters or girl friends riding behind them, their long skirts draped over the horses rear. After them come the troop of horses, a gaucho holding the rein of the lead horse. 

Watch these two fantastic video's, full of berets in all sizes and colours! Video 1, Video 2

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