“It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.”
– Charles Dickens
I was born with the vibrations of the city flowing thorough my veins, amidst a city-nation full of concrete buildings, increasingly-congested streets and ever-sprouting shopping centers.
Unlike others who were born in larger countries whose terrains allowed for varied climates and numerous plantations, I never had the chance to be one with nature – roaming easily amongst the golden sunlit pastures with grazing cattle and trotting horses for company.
My first few brief encounters with nature were in the south – in Australia and New Zealand where my parents took us as a family for short farm stays to expose us to a different type of life – one which Singapore so drastically lacked.
Even though these trips were fun – milking cows and watching the procession of sheep-shearing – I never grew extremely fond of animals nor did I desire to trade in my life as a city trooper for one in the countryside.
My re-location across half the globe to Argentina somehow managed to lure me with the charms of nature and its alluring peace.
Being based in the capital city, Buenos Aires, I’ve gotten used to meeting people who have come to Buenos Aires to work but are originally from the provinces of Argentina, where plantations of soy beans, corn and other plants, and cattle farms make up the majority of the land.
Because Argentina is very large and its economy depends largely on crop and meat exports, there are plenty of places to explore for one searching to escape the noise and pollution of the city, settling for a few days in the peace and tranquility present only in the fields and farms.
Last weekend, we packed our bags and headed West on a last-minute decision to get out of the city for a couple of days.
We headed towards to a ranch called “La Rica” (which translates into “The Rich”), based in the municipality of Chivilcoy.
After a couple of hours on the road, and a few more kilometers on a narrow dirt road, we arrived at a simple, rustic ranch with a main building for accommodation, which had been built in the 19th century.
A lush green meadow greeted us as we entered through the driveway, yellow-leafed trees flanking both sides of the path.
The main building held small but cosy rooms with old-school colonial designs, and a dining hall where all the guests would gather for our meals.
What was more enchanting was the garden behind, filled with trees and flowers of all kinds imaginable.
I felt like I had discovered “the secret garden”, whose beauty held me captive and in awe, and whose canopy allowed the sunlight to stream in like golden threads.
Before and after lunch were the times we would take the car and explore the neighboring towns and villages, some as small as holding just 300 inhabitants, others having a population of up to 60,000 people.
The place that charmed us most was Ramon Biaus, a little town which was barely registered on the GPS, and which required around 14 kilometers on the dirt road before you could reach it. Full of old school charm, it holds an old train station which is no longer in use, and feels like it was stuck somewhere in time.
What astonished us the most was how the growth of the train and railway system established towns and villages all over the country – wherever the trains and railway system reached, people set up homes and created places to live in.
After both lunch and tea time, we would head over to the fields where the animals were, passing those hours before dinner reading, soaking up the sun and just enjoying the quietness.
We’d then set off horse riding in the setting sun, the dusk descending on us as the fields turned a breathtaking golden hue.
Watching the sun disappear into the horizon out in the countryside is possibly one of the most satisfying experiences one could have.
Having amazing company at the ranch definitely helped.
I’m still a city girl inside, but in just three sunshine-filled days, the countryside has won my heart.