The clouds hung low as Leandro tightened the girth and eased me into my saddle. It was sure to rain, we only didn’t know when. We left the corral, crossing the wide green grounds of La Baguala towards the sand. I loved the view of him from behind, leading, smoking, checking his cell phone for messages. It was classic yet contemporary. Like most Uruguayans we met, he had a fair complexion and fine chestnut hair, most of which was scrunched underneath his boina, the woolen beret typically worn by gauchos from the fertile lowlands of South America—the Pampas. In contrast to his youthful face, a swift tug on the reins revealed leathered hands that were tanned well beyond their years.
“¿Sos de aquí?—Are you from here?” In this part of the continent, nobody used tú eres for “you are”; vos sos was the standard of rioplatense, the dialect of Spanish spoken in Uruguay and neighboring Argentina. Sí, indeed he was, having spent most of his life taming Montevideo’s mares and stallions. We rode on, straddling our steeds as they plodded ever so leisurely forward. The first droplets fell, dewed against our glasses, and dampened the surrounding air in an alabaster calm. On the plains of the Oriental Republic, by the bank of the Río de la Plata, the morning showered us under a watercolor of quietude.
How to get to Uruguay
Carrasco International Airport (MVD) is located 30-minutes outside of Montevideo with flights to and from Madrid operated by Iberia and Air Europa. Additionally, Buquebus ferries run several times per day between Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento, and Montevideo; a one-way ticket costs approximately $2,800 Argentinean pesos (US $45) per person.
WHERE TO STAY IN Uruguay
The wide acres of La Baguala is a short drive from Montevideo’s city center and an hour away from Colonia del Sacramento. Combining Uruguayan easygoingness with dignified luxury and a touch of adventure, daily horseback riding is included with a stay in any of its twelve stately suites. Doubles from approximately $4,600 Uruguayan pesos (US $105) per night.