Posts Tagged ‘gaucho’

On Wednesday the 7th of November our international Spanish language students went on a trip to visit the Gaucho museum in Montevideo, led by teacher Juan. The Gaucho is a legendary and fearless cowboy, which acts as a vital national symbol of both Uruguayan and Argentinian culture. //El miércoles 7 de noviembre, nuestros estudiantes internacionales de español hicieron un viaje para visitar el museo Gaucho en Montevideo, dirigido por el maestro Juan. El gaucho es un vaquero legendario y audaz, que actúa como un símbolo nacional vital de la cultura uruguaya y argentina.

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The Gauchos lived and worked on grasslands (Pamapas) during the 18th and 19th century. They had no specific ethnicity but were most often of mixed European and native American descent. Gauchos would dress in a poncho and possess a large knife for protection known as a ‘facon’. They would carry a leather whip commonly known as a ‘rebenque’ in order to control their horses. The trousers worn by them were loose fitting and often doubled up as a saddle. Being a skilled horseman was a key part of the Gaucho identity and they would often learn to ride horses before they could fully walk.  Nowadays the word Gaucho is used to refer to members of the Uruguayan rural working class. // Los gauchos vivieron y trabajaron en los campos (Pamapas) durante los siglos XVIII y XIX. No tenían una descendencia específica, pero la gran mayoría eran de ascendencia mixta de europeos y nativos americanos. Los gauchos se vestían con un poncho y poseían un gran cuchillo de protección conocido como “facón” . Llevaban un látigo de cuero conocido comúnmente como “rebenque” para controlar sus caballos. Los pantalones usados eran holgados y con frecuencia se doblaban como una silla de montar conocidos hoy en día como las “bombachas de campo”. Ser un jinete experto era una parte clave de la identidad gaucha y, a menudo, aprendían a montar a caballo antes de poder caminar. Hoy en día la palabra gaucho se usa para referirse a las personas que realizan labores de campo en el interior del país.

The Gauchos had a reputation as being honourable and brave people but polite and silent at the same time. They were however very capable of violence and on many occasions petty arguments would end violently. The gauchos however lived a simple life and inhabited huts made merely of mud. Their religious beliefs could be described as a combination of both superstition and roman Catholicism. Their hobbies included singing and guitar playing as well as drinking and gambling. // Los gauchos tenían la reputación de ser gente honorable y valiente, pero educados y silenciosos al mismo tiempo. Sin embargo, eran muy capaces de violencia y en muchas ocasiones los argumentos mezquinos terminaban violentamente. Los gauchos, sin embargo, vivían una vida simple y habitaban chozas hechas simplemente de barro. Sus creencias religiosas podrían describirse como una combinación de superstición y catolicismo romano. Sus pasatiempos incluían el canto y la guitarra, así como la bebida y el juego.

Overall the students very much enjoyed their trip to the Gaucho museum and with the detailed knowledge of the teacher Juan, the students were able to learn a lot about the Gauchos, one of the most important symbols of Uruguayan culture. // En general, los estudiantes disfrutaron mucho de la visita al museo Gaucho como parte de la clase de conversación y con el conocimiento detallado del maestro Juan, los estudiantes pudieron aprender mucho sobre los Gauchos, uno de los símbolos más importantes de la cultura uruguaya.

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Uruguay used to be South America’s best-kept secret, with a handful of Argentines, Brazilians, Chileans and non–South Americans in the know popping in to enjoy the pristine beaches, the atmospheric cities, the huge steaks and the happening nightlife, read more



Well, he’s not exactly a gaucho (you have to be born here for that), but Trevor from Oregon certainly has plenty of experience of country life in Uruguay, after four months living and working on estancias (ranches), working side-by-side with the gauchos, guides and other staff.

 He spent three weeks studying Spanish at the school in Montevideo, before undertaking internships at two estancias in different parts of the country. He’s studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish at home, so this was a good way to combine academic progress with his thirst for travel.

It’s certainly an unusual way to spend your time abroad, and in this interview Trevor explains his reasons for choosing this programme, what exactly it involved, and his reflections on his time in Uruguay. 


Why did you choose Uruguay?

Because it seemed off the beaten path, progressive, and I’d never been before. I chose to work at an estancia because I liked the idea of being out in the country and doing something completely different from my normal life. I knew it would be more peaceful than working in the city.


Can you tell us a bit about the ranches you worked at?

Estancia La Paz and Estancia El Ceibo are both beautiful rural hotels that offer outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, and fishing. La Paz is located near Paysandu and El Ceibo is near Florida. Tourists from all over the world visited the estancias to enjoy the peace and quiet.


What was everyday life like on the ranch? What were your responsibilities?

The workdays in the country are long, but fortunately there was a variety of jobs to do which kept things interesting. Sometimes I would work with the tourists as a server or translator, other times I would help in the kitchen or do landscaping.


What were the biggest challenges of the program?

Being out in the country was a drastic change from my usual lifestyle. I think it was especially challenging since I didn’t have any peers with me, but thankfully everyone at the estancias was really nice and made the effort to make me feel at home.


What were the best moments?

Galloping on a horse for the first time, learning to drink mate, going to Carnaval in Paysandu, and watching the amazing thunderstorms.


You already had a good level of Spanish when you came to Uruguay, so doyou think your Spanish course benefitted you?

Absolutely. The Spanish classes helped me adjust to the Uruguayan dialect, and I had a great time at the school with all the other international students.


Do you think working on a ranch helped you with your Spanish?

It really helped me because it was the first experience I’ve had where I was truly  immersed in a Spanish speaking environment, where English was not even an option. After a while I lost my fear of making mistakes and now I feel much more comfortable with the language.


What advice would you give to someone considering doing this kind of program?

If you have the opportunity, go for it. Don’t have too many expectations, just enjoy the adventure.


Did you have the chance to travel around Uruguay? Which areas would you recommend to travellers?

I didn’t travel around as much as I would have liked to. But I would recommend spending time in some of the smaller towns in the interior. I was constantly impressed by how friendly people were in the country.

Estancia El Ceibo, Florida, Uruguay

Estancia La Paz, Paysandú, Uruguay

If Trevor’s experiences have inspired you, have a look at the internship programmes offered at La Herradura, or you can enjoy estancia life (without so much hard work!) on the Spanish and horse riding programme.

Staying at an estancia is an excellent way to get to know the Uruguayan countryside, and can be as relaxing or adventurous as you like. It makes a beautiful weekend break from the city if you are studying Spanish here and, as Trevor said, you can really immerse yourself in the language and customs of the warm and welcoming countryside people.

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