One of the first things I pick up in a new place is a local map.
I find main streets, find plazas, find the river, find the bus terminal or airport, a good place to eat, the farmacia, and someone who knows a little English if I get in a jam. The map the hotel gives me is called the “Plano Urbano de Salto.” One of the things to see close to where I’m staying is the Museo of Bella Arts.
This museum was once a huge home belonging to the woman whose portrait is on the wall when you first enter. The pink colored house is on Uruguay street and is open, free of charge, to anyone who wishes to see inside. Entering the museum, you see that the lady collected art, and, when she passed, left the house and art as her memorial.
One of the smaller, and maybe least ostentatious paintings, is of a gaucho.
In this oil painting, a solitary gaucho poses for his portrait while his horse looks back at him and waits for marching orders.
ThIs cowpoke travels light, has his bedroll and jerky and saddlebags, wears loose fitting and comfortable clothes, and looks ready for anything. Out in the wilderness, alone, he has to solve problems and is reliant on his wits, his experience, and horse to get him through dangerous times.
Being a gaucho must be a little like being a soldier in war. You have days and days of boredom and waiting punctuated with brief episodes of stark terror when bullets fly past your head, and any one of them could send you where you don’t want to go.
Gauchos and cowboys are something that Uruguay and the United States used to have in common.
However, it is hard to see how two countries who admire self reliance and the pioneer spirit have done so much to stamp it out.
The only place we see wild spirits now Is on television and in movies.