The Gauchos of South America

Gauchos are the South American cowboy

Gaucho is a Spanish word referring to people that live in the pampas, chacos, and Patagonian grasslands. They are mostly found in Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Chile, and Southern Brazil. Gauchos are kind of like cowboys and were very common in the 19th century.

Gauchos are known to exist as early as the 1600’s. At that time the flatlands had a lot of cimarron cattle which was highly prized as a source of leather. The gauchos frequently killed the cattle in order to feed themselves – they cooked the meat over an open fire before it had a chance to spoil. Because of that, gauchos were looked down upon by the rest of society.

Over time, however, the reputation of the gaucho rose. They were the ones who knew the intricacies of the land inside and out. They were experts in all things pertaining to the pampa, knowledge that would soon become invaluable. When raising cattle became a profitable venture, it was the gauchos who knew how to manage the ranches. In fact, the gaucho way of grilling meat over an open fire would eventually become the main staple of Argentinean food – the asado.

However the gauchos would kill cows and only eat the meat. That made their reputation low. Their clothing was a shirt, vest, a kind of underwear, half foot boots, hemp footwear, a hat, a scarf, a belt, large knife, a lasso, some boot spurs, and a short whip. For the horse there was a saddle. They lived in ranches made of adobe with straw covering.

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books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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