We just arrived to the small South American country of Uruguay, after flying about three hours from DC to Miami and then 9 hours from Miami to Montevideo. I slept on the plan, thankfully, which I almost never do. Alicia, a guide to owns La Salamora, an estancia that we are visiting in Uruguay, met us at the airport. Alicia is a native Uruguayan woman with a magnetic smile and sure demeanor. She would be our guide for most of the trip and a great one, as she loves her country and knows a lot about its history and culture.
Every time we fly somewhere internationally, there is some baggage incident and this trip was no exception. Greg, our cinematographer's, bag didn't make it, so we got creative and rigged the equipment that we had to make things work for our first shoot in Montevideo.
We left the airport and drove into Montevideo, a port city, and headed to the Mercado del Puerto for lunch. This market is a real meat market with lots of restaurants that serve grilled meats cooked on these massive, wood burning grills. Barbeque or asado is eaten all over the country, and Alicia told me that many people don't consider it a meal unless there's meat. All around travelers and local Montevideans were enjoying meat and medio y medio, a refreshing combination of sparkling and white wine. Alicia and I walked around a bit and then sat down to enjoy a variety of meats. I was getting hungry just walking through the market because of the smells.
Cattle ranching is huge in Uruguay, making meat abundant and relatively inexpensive. People here don't let any parts of the cow go to waste. Alicia and I tried a lot of different things. We had sweet and salty black sausage and many bits of different grilled cow organs. I boldly tasted cow stomach, which was pretty good, cow intestine, which was chewy and also good, the throat (which was kind of mealy or something-hard to describe the consistency, except to say that I didn't like it). I did like the atmosphere of the market, where a man dressed as a gaucho was playing guitar and the locals were drinking and singing.
We then drove up to an old Spanish fort overlooking the city to see all of Montevideo. There are lots of beaches in the city and many people can walk right out of their apartment building and be on the beach, which I would love. We drove through many different neighborhoods before heading to Finca Piedra, the first ranch where we are filming.
Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Equitrekking episodes on DVD and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations including Uruguay equestrian vacations at EquitrekkingTravel.com. Follow Equitrekking on Facebook and @Equitrekking and @DarleyNewman on Twitter.