June 20th was the national holiday here in Argentina. The day of the flag or flag day, whichever you prefer. Accordingly, this national holiday celebrates the country’s national pride and one of its revolutionary heroes, Manuel Belgrano. And of course to help us better understand Argentina’s national pride, IFSA took us to a magical place where dreams come true: a ranch.
In all seriousness, ranches or las estancias have been an integral part of Argentine culture for quite some time. Cattle and agriculture have played and still play a very large role in Argentina’s economic policy and social structures, affecting cultural factors like food (they eat a lot of meat) or fashion (they wear a lot of leather). So the trip to the estancia was a unique and quintessential experience, a must-do for every tourist who really knows what they’re doing. That’s why I wasn’t expecting: 1) peacocks in a farm, 2) boys so interested in a game similar to bachi ball, and 3) breaking a swing in a playground in the ranch.
I also wasn’t expecting any Korean karaoke.
But, the world doesn’t revolve around my expectations, and decided to surprise me. Our majestic lunch in a huge dining hall with servers and performances began. We stuffed ourselves with the complementary bread and garlic-y good sauce before anything from the menu actually came out. We then proceeded to eat chorizo (amazing sausage), sdlfkj (essentially blood sausage), grilled chicken, and steak. Because we all have separate stomaches for desserts, we also had some flan and coffee to top it off. This of course, is after we had a beef empanada and some mate tea. And of course we had some more mate tea and some fried pastries after lunch. Because our stomaches are made of nylon and can stretch eternally (something my grandma always says to my grandpa).
While I am shamelessly eating a shameful amount of food, there is in fact a performance happening on stage. It started before the meal when everyone stood up and sang (or lip sang) the Argentine national anthem. It continued with different types of dances and music from all of Argentina. It featured our beloved Griselda Lopez and her beautiful voice. Then the man singing makes a shout out to all the different countries that people in huge dining hall are from. He proceeds to ask for a Korean to come up on stage. My only fear is singing. So when he tells me I’m going to help him sing a song, I start to freak out a little bit.
But then he starts to sing the most famous Korean folk song ([youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkM_LXUCMeA&feature=related [/youtube]), and I am so surprised. How does he know the lyrics? After he finishes the first bit, I sing the melody and hear my friends. Throughout the whole 30 seconds on stage, I can’t believe I am singing a Korean folk song with an Argentine man in an Argentine ranch. My fame ends when I leave the stage and return to my seat. So was the Korean karaoke.
The more typical activities of the day, such as a gaucho horse performance and a brief empanada and pastelita cooking lesson, were relaxing and fun. The performance was perhaps one of the more culturally educational activities, giving us a sense of the gaucho culture that characterizes the more rural areas of Argentina. Riding the galloping horses, the performers had to catch a hanging ring on their mini spear-like object for a kiss from the audience (the prize used to be a bride). Well planned, like every IFSA organized trip, we got on the bus at once exhausted and satisfied.