Estancia - Guardia del Monte
Feb 9, 2012
After enduring the truck (in the rain) again to get back to the main road, we met our taxi which took us to Estancia Guardia del Monte, a working ranch with 400 sheep and 600 cattle. Here the atmosphere couldn't have been more different. The house was in the middle of a huge ranch on the edge of a lake, Laguna de Castillos, with a beautiful garden and central courtyard absolutely covered in ripe grapes. After we had a shower to wash away all traces of Cabo Polonio they served us lunch in the oldest part of the building. At that stage we were the only guests and they offered to take us horse riding or for a walk in the forest. However, we opted to have a lazy afternoon making use of the hammocks and taking a short walk to the edge of the lake. Well we could have made use of them if Nic had not had an in-flight hammock failure. On entry a small tear was heard, nothing to worry about we thought but just as she was dropping off to sleep – she dropped out of the hammock. Not a major incident, only a 15cm drop, and David gave her gentlemanly support whilst laughing his head off on his deck chair.
We go for a wander down to the lakeside to stretch the legs and get a bit of air. On the way back we see the Manager of the Estancia with his two children rounding up a herd of sheep. Although there is mechanised transport of the Estancia horses still seem to play a very important part in the running of the farm side.
The lake contains fish and shrimp and is fished by the locals. It's fed from a river connected to the sea so it is tidal of sorts. If you were feeling energetic you could go canoeing (that's also on the back burner beside the horse riding).
Not long before sunset, a car pulled up and we met our fellow guests for the night – Ron and Doris from Rhode Island. They proved to be excellent company and we had a very pleasant evening chatting over dinner.
Dinner was Asado – typical Uruguayan barbecue cooked by our own gaucho, Lucas.
We need to be careful however - should we slow down any more we will be at a dead stop – life here really is very slow paced and relaxing.
The estancia has a lovely enclosed courtyard which has multitudes of grapes growing from trellises. We are told to help ourselves and even get them served up for breakfast – delicious.
Ron and Doris headed off this morning to do some horse riding – we declined, opting instead for a lazy morning. After lunch, all four of us went for a walk in the forest with Alicia, the owner of the estancia. The estancia has been in her husband's family for more than 100 years. She pointed out various birds and trees including the ombu tree which is relatively rare but seems particularly suited to growing here. They have created a reserve for the ombu where the cattle cannot get at them so that biologists can study them.
Ron and Doris leave in the late afternoon so we are alone for dinner – except for the bat that decides to fly round the dining room. They do get vampire bats here which attack the cattle but we are assured that this one only eats mosquitos.