I saw the cutest little girl today at the Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha in Tacuarembó, Uruguay. I would say she was about eight years old, and she had on a white, frilly cowgirl dress with a blue vest, a blue and white cowgirl hat, and blue and white cowgirl shoes. When I tell you this girl was dressed to the nines, I mean she was fully coordinated from head to toe.

The little girl happened to be adorable, but she wasn’t the only one dressed like that. We were at a gaucho festival, so everyone was dressed like her. Gauchos are the cowboys of South America. It just so happens that they come from all over South America to this festival. It’s like a fair, but for cowboys.

There were all kinds of foods, games, and rides at this rodeo stadium. I had to laugh at the man at the barbeque pit because he was cooking huge cuts of steak, the sun was blazing, there was a ton of smoke blowing in his face, he was sweating profusely, yet he refused to take off, or even unbutton, his long-sleeved white shirt, his black vest, or his cowboy hat. I thought he was going to pass out, but every time I walked by him, he was still standing over the pit.

Some of the shows were pretty cool. A guy on a horse was doing tricks with a lasso. Women sang and danced to traditional gaucho songs. Most of the people in the audience sang along, so at some points, it became one big sing-along. I didn’t know any of the words, but I put my arm around the guy’s shoulder next to me and rocked back and forth mimicking the words. Everyone got a kick out of the fact that I clearly didn’t belong, but I was out there singing and rocking with the best of them anyway.

fiesta-de-la-patria-gaucha

I was about to leave, but I ran into some kind of parade. I swear there were about 3000 gauchos and gauchettes (yes, I made up that word!) on horses, coming down the street into the center of the stadium. The horses pranced into the stadium with just as much pride as the people riding them. It was a majestic sight to see. Maybe next year I’ll come back in gaucho gear, prance in with the parade, and learn the songs for the sing-along.

Activities:

  1. What is a gaucho?
  2. What do a gaucho’s clothes look like?
  3. ¡A escribir! Gauchos are not unique to Uruguay. There are also gauchos in Argentina. Watch this video from National Geographic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7KovwMiHJ4 and write a short summary about the gaucho lifestyle.