A Campo Weekend

The weekend before last I was fortunate enough to be invited to the estancia of an artist with whom I am collaborating with on a joint project.  A well established painter here in Buenos Aires, Marta Diez has had many exhibitions here in the city, as well as some abroad, most notably at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris last year.  Her estate is still in the province of Buenos Aires, and yet is located a good 650 kilometers south from the city center, near a town called Bahia Blanca.

Along the drive we passed through much of rural Buenos Aires, some parts of which are considered to be among the most fertile areas of Argentina, where most of the produce and meat come from to feed the capital.  After a long drive we made it to the Estancia Chasico (named after the local town “next door”) in time for lunch.  The property covers approximately 4,000 hectares of land, which are mostly dedicated to wheat and grains, as well as pasture for the 1,600 cattle that roam freely on the land. The afternoon was booked for artificial insemination of females, which, if all goes according to plan, is to produce another 400 cattle, all from the same bull… It’s a good thing for him that there’s no bovine child support requirements.

This process of impregnating 400 cows took about 4-5 hours, with 2 gauchos (equivalent to the American cowboys), 2 veterinarians, and the ranch handler.  Just as the process was ending, the winds picked up, and a massive storm started barreling in from the horizon.  Luckily this coincided with the sunset, which made the horizon seem like it was on fire.  The lightning shots posted are evidence to the magnitude of this storm.

We made it back to the house just as the rain started, and about ten minutes later, the power went out and wouldn’t return until the morning.  (Taking a shower by candlelight is a bit more complicated than one might think.)  We sat on the porch before dinner eating some very local meats and cheeses and enjoying some nice wine as the lighting danced in front of us, as if performing a show for our benefit.

The following day Marta and her husband set out to take care of some business relating to the property, so I took advantage of the free time and set out on my own to roam around fields with my cameras.  It had been a long time since I had left the city, so it was quite easy to take in and enjoy the relative silence and solitude that farms and their fields provide.  That afternoon I learned they sell their cows to another farm that has fuller pasture to fatten the cows up more before the meat is sold abroad.  As is the case with most of the meat and fish in Argentina, it goes abroad for a higher price, and therefore more of it is sold overseas than domestically.

I returned to my apartment in Buenos Aires the following night weary from travel, excited about the photos, and mentally and physically refreshed.  This is the typical case for me after a long weekend in the countryside; I find it an ideal way  to refresh the mind in order to deal with the stress that city life inevitably throws your way.

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