Our glorious journey *Argentina– By Riyan Rivero
“ . . . Far from the beaten highways and the dust and din of travel, we beheld the country privately, yet freely, and at our leisure.” – Henry David Thoreau
At the close of the hugely successful, ultra high energy Brazilian Nationals, Team Midwest’s South American contingent journeyed on together for Buena’s Aires, Argentina, where a new cadre of adventurers joined us from our homeland.
Our Argentine odyssey began with a bus trek through the majestic Andes Mountains to experience the legendary magic of Parque Diana, the 10,000-acre private resort, owned by Magnums owner Fernando Santibanes. It is a spirit filled paradise that neither words nor picture could ever completely describe. Nestled is the protection and ambiance of the Andes Mountains surrounded by spring fed lakes and rivers in the midst of 30 some private cabins.
After arriving and settling in to our warm and cozy private cabins, we made our way to the main lodge for the first of many incredible meals shared together and prepared by Argentina’s finest chefs.
Our days at Parque Diana were wonderfully casual. While some gathered together in the main lodge for laughs and libations churning long term friendships, others took long leisurely walks to the lake, visited the vast number of rare deer bred by Fernando, or read a book on the deck over the top of the rushing river. The evenings were full of camaraderie… and the ever-present aroma of practical jokes was never far from the minds of Travis Rice or Don Morse. Together we ventured into the quaint little village called San Martine for some “tourist” shopping. It was amazing to see that we were stopped regularly on the road for the wild mares and their foals or cattle crossing the winding roads. On one of the trips to town, we piled 14 Team Midwest members into a bus that seats 10… it solidified our new found “love” for one another! Special Thanks to our ever-patient guide, Lady Gina!
Barbara Chur and Walter Mishek so kindly cooked and prepared the traditional American Thanksgiving feast that accompanied the two chefs on their plane over from the US. For those of us who were feeling homesick on that special holiday away from our families, this was a wonderful time. The meal was incredible, but the real enjoyment came in seeing Walter and Barbara dressed in “Argentine Chef’s” attire and slaving over the hot stove for our enjoyment!
My personal favorite moment at Parque Diana was the adventure of Todd Weagans and Travis and the “attack birds”. In an effort to hopefully scare Riyan and Kassidy, they adventured toward the nest of the “Terro Terro” birds. They had hoped that the bird’s seemingly harmless threats when their eggs were discovered would scare the “girls”…. Much to their surprise, the birds seemed to fully understand their plot and quickly went on the attack, soaring at eye level directly at first Todd, then Travis. Suffice it to say, the ‘boys’ were not on the ground enjoying a leisurely moment, rather diving to the ground, screaming for mercy from these viciously angry birds. Sadly we had to leave this incredible paradise, but only with vows and hopes of returning together someday.
When we arrived back to Buenos Aires, we stayed at the five star luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. The next morning we were off to the Arabian Breeders Cup Championship show to cheer on the soon to be champions owned by Fernando and Gina. Sunday we were the honored guests of Fernando’s beautiful Haras Mayed facility, where we were excited to find waiting the traditional Argentine barbeque prepared over an open fire by fully costumed Argentine Gaucho’s. After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, an incredible group of the Mayed horses were presented to us all, including a special treat; the king himself, *Magnum. As a result of this beautiful presentation, Don and Janey Morse and Todd and Glenna Weagens purchased the exquisite filly, JJ Victoria Bey (NNL Bey Shahll x JJ Victoriana).
That afternoon we were once again gathered together and were off to the incomparable Haras La Catalina, owned by Lady Gina Pelham. Lady Gina’s roughly 100,000-acre Estancia (owned by her family for four generations), surrounded by vast crops of corn and soybean, was sparkling with Fire Flies welcoming us, as we arrived a little after dusk.
With unimaginable royal treatment, we were assigned our rooms in Gina’s 120-year-old family home and adjoining guest quarters. A book could certainly be written on the History of this amazing place and its decorated inhabitants. It was so special to just walk from room to room and look at all the historic photos, silver, and paintings and to experience the traditional values of Lady Gina’s amazing life.
Each morning met us gathering in the main home for breakfast, casually visiting with one another over fresh coffee, home made toast, and eggs raised right there on the farm. Each day was specially planned and organized by Gina, her daughter Cecilia and her incredible Team guided by, her managers George and Sandra.
Our days on the Estancia were filled with exploring the vast property to witness the lifestyle of the La Catalina Gaucho’s, horse back rides full of laughter, walks through the pastures witnessing a collection of the finest broodmares in the world and their brand new babies, and two outstanding presentations of horses. These presentations resulted in some very happy people who were honored with the ability to purchase some of Lady Gina’s finest accomplishments, including the purchase of LC Giali (Ruminaja Ali x JA Toppers Gigi) by Jerry and Betty Garcia; Todd and Glena Weagens and Don and Janey Morse purchased the first 10 bookings to the incredible young colt, LC Prince Magnum (Magnum Psyche x Ludy El Shahller) and Don and Janey Morse purchased the Embryo rights to *Ludy el Shahller.
Our evenings at La Catalina were spent in “La Pulperia de Gina.” This unique and very quaint thatch room building was the perfect place to gather for the traditional and ever present, Midwest/Brazilian dice games (introduced to us years ago by senor member Pole Levy). We danced and shared a great deal of laughter nightly.
Once again, we were all deeply saddened at the idea of departing this magical place where we bonded deeply with one another. It was agreed by all that Lady Gina is the finest woman any of us had ever had the pleasure of meeting. We were truly blessed by her hospitality and her indescribable Estancia!
In summary, the times we all shared as honored guests of these incredible human beings, Don Fernando Santibanes and Lady Gina Pelham, will leave a permanent mark on the hearts and souls of each and every one of us. Thank you Fernando and Lady Gina, from the bottom of our hearts… and thank you, David and Terry Anne for your undying efforts to bless the lives of those around you with your infectious love of the Arabian horse and the people who own them!
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.