What is a Gaucho?
And no, we're not talking about those regrettable pants from the early 2000s.
Gaucho. If you type this Spanish word into a translator, you will most likely get “cowboy” in return. While that may be the closest translation in English, it’s not quite accurate. The term “cowboy” tends to bring to mind images of tight blue jeans, lassos, large hats and country music. A true gaucho is a far cry from that stereotype.
The term gaucho is used to describe the men who live in the Pampas region of Argentina, Gran Chaco of Bolivia and Paraguay, the grasslands of Southern Brazil, and parts of Chile.
Typical gaucho attire includes a thick poncho, a large knife called a facón, a leather whip called a rebenque and loose pants called bombachas with a belt made of cloth and tied in a way reminiscent of a cloth diaper. The ponchos are not the plastic garbage bag-esque things you might wear to a rainy sporting event, but rather a thick, sturdy wool so that the poncho can also be used as a saddle blanket or even a sleeping mat. The diaper-belt may sound silly, but it served its purpose as something to hold up their loose fitting pants, and was not, of course, meant to be used for toilet training.
While the gaucho culture has faded with time, you can still find a decent amount of men who are proud to call themselves gauchos. These people live in the countryside, herding cattle and other livestock and making their living off of the meat they sell to nearby towns. If you get a chance to visit a gaucho estancia, or ranch, you will most likely be greeted with warm smiles and treated to a day of simple living, excellent cooking and, most likely, some folk music played on an old guitar.