Off the Beaten Path: Day Trip to Gouin

gouin-1

PH Mauricio Genta

Buenos Aires is a large province, and although known for its vibrant city capital, there are many small towns in the city outskirts that preserve a local feel which remits to another time in history. One such place is Gouin where the old train station, traditional lunching spots and open countryside make for an inviting quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The town is a 2 hour drive away from the city center,  10km off from the larger Carmen de Areco (not to be confused with San Antonio de Areco), which is also an interesting place to stop by. It has only 122 inhabitants, a small church, a park, an old train station and three lunch spots:

Restaurante La Estación in the old train station. 02273- 15-406056

Pulpería Don Tomás which serves cold cuts, homemade pasta and asados prepared by the owners.  02273-15-406865 / 02325-15-657425

Pulpería “La Mora” on Calle Andrade y Rivadavia  attended by a lady called Carmen López. Cel: 02273-15-409706

The town’s attractions include the chapel, the San Martín park and a fair with regional products in front of the park that opens on weekends.

The Argentine Gaucho

(Photo by tim ellis)

The gaucho is one of the few local characters which the national culture has adopted as truly Argentine. Allthough the origins of these nomadic cattle herders is ambiguous it is generally accepted that they appeared after colonization as the offspring of Natives with Europeans. A few things characterized this new generation of locals; one was their skill riding horses and handling cattle, another was their nomadic nature. They were also proficient with knives, boleadoras and guitars and many of them were payadores, which means they recited poetic stories about their lives to the strum of the guitar. It is the gauchesque payadas that led to the posterior gauchesque literature that was key to transforming the Gaucho into an emblematic national character.

The image of the gaucho was not always positive. For a long time they were considered to be outlaws and rebels, and as social castaways they were readily sent to fight the civil wars. Once the wars were over, there was no place in society for gauchos, so they were culturally resignified. The parallel influx of immigrants to the city had created a need for a national identity, and for the countryside to become appealing as it was the land that needed to be populated. Amidst this context, gauchesque literature, which portrayed the life, tradition and used the language of the gauchos, found its perfect place. From then on, through the local literature of emblematic authors such as José Hernandez who wrote the famous Martín Fierro, Leopoldo Lugones who wrote La Guerra Gaucha and  Ricardo Güiraldes, who wrote Don Segundo Sombra, amongst others, the gaucho acquired a mythical place in society.

Popular literary adaptations to film were also made from gauchesque novels, completing the insertion of this rustic character into the Argentine culture. Some noticeable examples are Juan Moreira adapted to film by Leonardo Fabio, Los Hijos de Fierro, which makes a parallelism between Peron and Martin Fierro, by Pino Solanas and Don Facundo Sombra adapted to film by Manuel Antín.

We Recommend: A Rural Expedition to an “Estancia”

(Photo by ChrisGoldNY)

With the arrival of spring and sunny days to come the span of activities broadens in the outskirts of the city where short trips to the countryside make for a great way to experience what the local culture is all about.  As your are probably very well aware of, one of the focal points of Argentine tradition is the countryside, home of gauchos and many an unfortunate cow.  The estancias are rural estates that not only carry out typical rural activities but also have a rich history depicting the settlement patterns and land disputes of this young country.

Horseback riding, polo, fishing, and Fiesta Gaucha (including folkloric dances and races) are all offered as part of the Estancia experience.

Some places to check out are:

La Candelaria Estancia & Polo Club

A top-notch estancia offering everything from gaucho shows to parachuting and massages in a gorgeous French style chateau surrounded by fragrant nature.

Estancia Santa Susana

This typical estancia outside the city regularly celebrates a Fiesta Gaucha with traditional meals and activities. This is a great day trip option in which transport to and from the Estancia is included.

Estancia La Horqueta

Built on the shore of a lagoon and surrounded by trees this natural haven offers canoes, bird watching, and horseback riding. Plant lovers will get a chance to walk around the estate with Enrique Pierri, an expert on the surrounding vegetation.

More options here.