National Geographic Explorer
We wake up early on this day, which sadly, is to be the last on this remarkable adventure. Every step of the way we have been challenged, our senses are still tingling with all that we have learned about the wildlife, the people and the food, music, and art that form such an integral part of their culture. The first group heads off to do some bird watching. Several locations are visited and by the end of the day over 80 species have been sighted. It is an impressive count. The second group heads off on a tour of the city and there are many highlights along the way. Probably most interesting is the old town, the presidential house, the city center, and the congress, which we were able to go into. It is an impressive building with a lot of fine art and it is an opportunity to learn a little more about this tiny country in South America and its rich tradition in freedom and liberty. We all meet up for lunch at an estancia, this is the equivalent to a ranch in North America. Along the way one is taken in by the rich pasture lands and the flatness of the humid pampas. Soon enough we have arrived at the entrance gate to Estancia La Rábida, and we then travel along a tree-lined road for 7 kilometers before arriving to the buildings, which make up the estancia steadings. We are greeted by the owners and we are struck by their warmth and generosity. Not far from this point a gaucho is cooking the “asado” (the BBQ). The enormous quantity of meat and “chorizos” (a type of sausage) is being carefully and slowly cooked under hot coals. Fresh coals are being made by two big fires a few meters away. Once the greetings are completed, we all board some hay trucks and other modes of transport and head off for a tour of this working estancia. By the time we return the food is ready and before we eat the main course we enjoy some delicious starters comprised of bread, chorizos, and freshly cooked vegetables; all of these well accompanied with a variety of drinks. Asados are traditionally to be eaten with wines and today we are able to sample a cabernet sauvignon and a tannat, both from Uruguay. The main course is sumptuous and delicious. There are a variety of meats to choose from and many fresh salads. We chat away sitting comfortably on straw bales and the young folk from the family of the estancia ensure that we have enough to drink. Just before the desserts are served we are treated to some traditional folk dances and music from this region. It is very impressive! After we have finished our lunch we relax by walking to see some pampas rheas in some enclosures and for the more adventuresome there is the chance to ride a horse. Many take advantage of this and ride around the large enclosed area. To finish off the afternoon some decide to accept the opportunity of being pulled by a horse whilst sitting on a large piece of rawhide. There are some spills and of course a lot of laughter. By now it is late afternoon and we reluctantly board the buses to return to the ship. After a welcome shower, we head up to the lounge where we are able to enjoy a drink whilst watching a looped slideshow. As we look at these images we relive many of the rich experiences from this voyage. Our Captain then bids us farewell and speedy and safe travels home.