Year Released: 2006
Directed by: Harry Lynch
Starring: Moroccan Berbers, Spanish Vaqueros, Mexican Charros and Charras, Chilean Baqueanos, Argentine Gauchos, and the Cowboys and Cowgirls of Texas and British Columbia
(Not Rated, 50 min.)
"Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, Where the deer and the antelope play, Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, And the skies are not cloudy all day." Home on the Range
They thunder across white-hot sands, the icy mountains of Chilean Patagonia, and the dusty plains of Texas – those “drinkers of the wind,” the magnificent steeds of the desert.
And what better way to recapture the cowboy and girl in each of us than on a Texas-sized big screen, the IMAX. The immense screen measures nearly 73 by 53 feet across -- almost as big as Friday night football, but not nearly so noisy or crowded -- and truly captures a cowboy culture rooted in 1500 years of history. Would you believe that the roots of the American cowboy started, in of all places, on the Barbary Coast of Africa, home of that light and sturdy mount, the Moroccan Barb!
Like its close cousin, the Arabian, the Barb was bred for battle, and what it lacked in size, it made up for in speed and agility. Its “terrible beauty,” with riding gear as stunning as it was functional, made the Barb’s swiftness in battle all the more lethal. Today’s battle scenes are all ceremonial -- the storming of the casbah or castle is part of a wedding ceremony, but every bit as awe inspiring as the real thing centuries ago.
When the Moors conquered Spain, they brought their valiant little horses with them, and the enterprising Spaniards turned their swords into plowshares, converting the battle horse into a cow pony, a very elegant one at that. The Spanish cowboy or vaquero used blunt lances called garrochas to steer their cattle.
From Spain the cowboy ways went to the Americas, developing similar yet distinct styles. In Mexico it was the way of the Charro -- wide brimmed hat adapted for the heat, a horn to hold that most valuable device, the lariat, and snappy traditional dress for Charros and Charras alike. The IMAX camera catches a Charriada, forerunner of our rodeo.
The skills and courage of these most able riders take your breath away, especially the aptly named, paseo de muerte or “ride of death” where the charro leaps from his horse onto a wild one and rides it out until it stops bucking. And let’s not forget the beautiful charras, decked out in pristine white traditional dress, doing their classic riding sidesaddle. Kind of reminds me of Ginger Rogers’ comment that she had to do everything that Fred Astaire did, only she had to do it backwards and in high heels.
In Texas the cowboy ways are still maintained at the Four Sixes Ranch, so huge that the South Division alone is forty miles from corner to corner. They may trailer their horses and talk on hand held radios, but the cowboy life is not that different from what it was over a hundred years ago. Cinnamon clouds of dust follow the thundering hooves, the scorch of branding iron and hot coffee sizzle in the morning skies, and a fine cutting horse is living art. In British Columbia, the border collies cut the herd, and you can almost feel the chill in the air, the backdrop of snowy mountains making the campfire coffee all the sweeter.
That same nip is in the air in Chilean Patagonia – now you know how that warm, fleecy gear gets its name – where the baqueanos know how to keep warm. “In their great cloaks, black leather jackets, wrapped sashes, tall leather boots and berets, they looked like some lost 19th century military patrol,” writer/producer Harry Lynch recalls. Driving the horses down from the mountains is a testimony to the strength of both horse and horsemen, where the 60-mile course careens over rocks and soft-as quicksand soil. No wonder they rejoice once down in the green valley at the estancia, drinking their wine from goatskins, their grill overflowing with meat of every kind.
Finally to the Iberian swamps of Argentina, where the Gaucho Correntino copes with the wet conditions by going barefoot – leather boots would merely rot – and making his saddle out of the durable hide of a carpincho, the world’s largest river rodent. They swim their horses through crocodile infested swamps, merely kicking at piranhas that nip at their legs. It’s a good thing that they have their own cowboy coffee to sustain them, the strong and healthy mate, which is actually a tea. (Don’t tell Juan Valdez that this herbal drink is actually the preferred morning beverage in coffee-rich South America.)
Three things made this epic film even more pleasurable. One was experiencing its joy with two of my dearest friends, 95-year old Betsy -- cowgirl extraordinaire as well as the second women in Texas to become an engineer – and 81 year old John, a retired judge who remembers swimming his horse across the Colorado River in Austin’s bygone days. Second was the score by Brian Satterwhite, a lilting Spanish-tinged cadence that carries horse, rider, and audience along with it. Finally, the newsletter account of the film’s shoot at Ride Around the World, where they describe encounters with everything from Texas tornadoes to Canada grizzlies, is a story in and of itself.
So even if your Mommas have taken Willie Nelson’s advice and didn’t let you grow up to be cowboys, do the next best thing and gallop across the IMAX screen in this breathtaking adventure.
Cowboy coffee, even if it s really tea in South America, is a morning ritual that unties the men before their day’s grueling adventures. It may be drunk from a gourd or a tin cup, strong and sweet, or bitter and pungent, but it gets the job done.
So this weekend, at the crack of dawn, get a move on. As John Wayne said. “You’re burning daylight,”
Forgo the Starbucks, and cook up your very own cowboy coffee. You choose between chuck-wagon or South American style.
Get along, little dogies.
“Old-time cowboys crank strong coffee first thing in the morning; before, during, after, and between meals; and just before bed at night. Cowboy coffee was never filtered. The grounds were boiled in the pot. The old chuck-wagon cooks used to say that, to test coffee, you drop a horsehoe in the pot. If the horseshoe floats, the coffee’s strong enough.”
A Cowboy in the Kitchen
He suggests a dark-roasted, whole bean blend called CFRanch Cowboy Coffee, which they serve at his Reata Restaurant in Fort Worth. They sell it by the pound to customers. To order some, call (800) 409-7878
Doing Mate the Argentine Way
In traditional Argentine style, the gauchos, or South American cowboys, will gather around a campfire several times during their work day of herding cattle. With horses hobbled and grazing, they group for friendship, community, and energy by passing the maté and bombilla person to person in ritualistic fashion.
The things you will need to host a typical traditional maté gathering are:
- A maté - the gourd, which has been cured
- To Cure: fill 1/2 the gourd with leaves, top with hot water. Set for 3 days, then scrape out and rinse before using.
- A bombilla - the silver filtering straw (optional: plastic straws for those who are not used to this sharing ritual)
- Yerba maté - the loose herb
- A thermos or campfire pot of hot, but never-boiled, water.
- A wonderful peaceful outdoor location is preferable, with campfire, nature and spirit (if not possible, we suggest you go to your favorite coffee house or key campus location, ask for hot, but never boiled water, and introduce it to even MORE friends!)
One person acts as server to the group. He/she prepares the first maté by putting loose tea into the gourd - about 1/4 full, or to taste. (For a sweeter taste honey may be added to the hot water). The server then nestles the bombilla into the loose leaves inside the maté, leaving it there and while NEVER STIRRING fills the maté to the top with hot, but never boiled water.
The server drinks the entire maté thus settling the herbs and assuring that the temperature is perfect. The maté is refilled with hot water and passed to the person on the left or right, who drinks the entire maté and returns it to the server. (NOTE: it is considered a courtesy for the server to turn the maté so that the bombilla is pointing towards the person receiving it, and likewise, when the person finishes he/she returns the kindness by turning the maté (not the bombilla itself) so that the bombilla is facing the server.)
It is appropriate for the server to empty the maté and refreshen with fresh yerba after 6-10 servings. As the yerba is relieved of its properties, it becomes lavado or weakened and the rich green color becomes paler. For full potency you may choose to refresh your yerba sooner.
Each person drinks until fully satisfied. To indicate you are complete and no longer want to be included in the circle, you say "Gracias."
The maté may then be emptied onto house plants, or in your garden, as its rich nutrients have rejuvenation properties that plants enjoy greatly.
Yerba mate made as a suntea and served cold is an enjoyable alternative which contains all the nutritional and energizing benefits of this spectacular herb. Fill a squeeze bottle and take it with you on a hike, to work, or a business meeting for added focus and clarity.
Recipe Source: Herbs from Around the World