Where do I even begin? My stay at Estancia Don Manuel was one of the best experiences of my life. I had been in the city [Buenos Aires] for a little over 4 weeks and I was completely overwhelmed by the concrete jungle. I was craving fresh air and wide open spaces. I missed the companionship of animals and felt a strong desire for nature to refuel my jaded soul. Simply put, I was in dire need of a break from the sleepless city life.
As luck would have it, a good friend of mine [and excellent polo player] that I had met in Del Mar rang me up and invited me to the estancia that he has worked at for many, many years. I was stoked. I packed my bag within minutes and anxiously awaited for my ride to come pick me up. 9am sharp, Santi comes to pick me up. The drive from the city to Don Manuel is roughly 45 minutes and we filled it with friendly conversation and a good laugh at how we butcher certain words in Spanish and English. “Ushuaia” being one of many for myself and “juice” being Santi’s downfall. I was perplexed as to why anyone would want “orange shoes” for breakfast, until I heard “apple shoes” as well, and realized he was talking about “juice”!
When we pulled up to Don Manuel’s front entrance, I knew I had found my heaven on earth. Acres and acres of lush green grasses, hundreds of beautiful horses roaming free, and all the lovable, snuggly dogs my heart could desire. Yep, this is what Sonnie’s dreams are made of. Oh and wine, lots and lots of wine.
I had the pleasure of staying at Don Manuel for 7 days. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, they made me feel right at home. The owner, Emiliano Blanco, is very attentive and caring to all of his guests and you can see just how hard he works to oversee that everything is running smoothly. He was very in tune with all aspects of the estancia and he had an intuitive way with animals that I found very endearing. The food served at Don Manuel was the best that I have had since arriving in Buenos Aires and the atmosphere of our nightly dinners made me feel like family. The kitchen ladies were so sweet and they were more than happy to cater to any of your dietary needs – whether you had a lactose intolerance, didn’t eat red meat, or had a gluten-free diet – they took care of you.
Aside from polo, Don Manuel has a lot to offer and it caters to a wide variety of guests. Its amenities include a pool and jacuzzi, a tennis court, a common room with a wide variety of games, yoga classes, fitness classes, target shooting, tango lessons, and trail riding. Some people visiting were there less for the horses and more for relaxation, while others came for the sole purpose of improving their polo game. I was a happy medium. I enjoyed several trail rides out in the countryside and stick and balled once a day. When I wasn’t out riding horses or snuggling dogs, I would watch the daily polo matches. Teams were arranged for guests based on their skill level and they had the opportunity to play with the pros. It was really fun to watch the pros play and it also gave me the opportunity to try my hand at action photography.
My stay at Don Manuel was pure bliss. I met a lot of great people along the way and made some memories that will last a lifetime. I hope to find myself back here again one day, si solo en mis sueños 😉