The next morning was a little slower than the previous day. It was quite relaxing after a good night’s sleep and following a decent application of muscle cream. We didn’t do lines (the morning ride) and I decided against a swim on account of my skin. I opted for a few simple stretches instead. After breakfast we started foot mallet practice, where I learned how to properly swing a mallet. We then moved on to stick and ball for about two hours. I found the session tough, my muscles are giving me pain throughout.
Vadim, Sergey and Sophia
While girls playing chakkas
Pool and champagne is a good combination )
Lunch is great here 😉
Steak with vegetables
Improvised dessert worked amazingly well: peach with cream,… yep, and Dolce de Lecce;)
The next session, which once again consisted of four 12-minute chukkas, was my best so far: no muscle ache. My stretching and rehabilitation had worked! Or it could have just been the Fourth Day Rule, which states that it takes several days for your body to adapt to the rigours of polo… Either way, it was great fun.
After each chukka, Olga (the maid, and a wonderful lady) brought out mate tea (a national drink) for refreshment. Mate is said to relax all muscles, apart from the heart, and is as effective as caffeine. It is just what players need – a relaxing drink that allows you to think strategically. Perfect!
The day was hot. By the time we’d finished, and the sun had almost disappeared, yet it was still very warm. We were served beer and water while still on our horses and took the opportunity to go for a gentle walk on the horse for an hour and a half. Ten minutes into the walk, darkness fell. The only light was the full moon, which illuminated our way, and the occasional farmhouse. The feeling was amazing: the fresh air, the sounds of night creatures, and the hallucinating effect of thousands of glow bugs. The sky was clear and full of stars. There are no words that do the scene justice.
Halfway home, as is tradition, we played ‘mancha’. This is a game that involves one rider chasing another, attempting to touch them. Once touched, it is their turn to chase another rider and touch them, and so on. It’s a fun game and the darkness made it even better. It’s also great polo practice because it involves quick turns, acceleration and sharp stops. The process of reaching to touch another rider is also similar to reaching for the ball with a mallet. Throughout the game, we were accompanied by the hosts’ dogs, which picked fights with other farm dogs as we made our way home.
After yet, there is more food (baked sweets this time) and another swim. We sat down for empanadas, a Latin American dish made with minced meat, cubes of boiled eggs, sweet pepper and, should the chef decide, a few extra ingredients. Carlos and Sophy were once again the perfect hosts: Carlos with his entertaining Argentinean charm and Sophy with her English sophistication. They really are the perfect combination. The meal was once again delicious, and the red wine is superb. Conversation flowed, with English, Spanish and Russian all heard. Only a few days in, it already felt like a big family gathering. Gradually people disappeared to bed, until it was just me and the hosts. We chatted until the early hours of the next morning.