It’s the end of November, and PE teacher Michelle Myers is sitting in the sun. Not on some lounge chair at a Club Med, but on the back of a horse halfway around the world in 90-degree heat.
The polo match starts and the field comes alive. Horses and jockeys fight for position on a field nine times the size of a football field.
Myers spent an elongated Thanksgiving break playing polo at El Metejon Ranch in Canuelas, Argentina.
She traveled all that way for eight days for one reason: polo.
It was her third pilgrimage to the hotbed of polo that is Argentina.
“In Argentina, you either play polo or soccer or both. Those two are basically the national sports,” Myers said .
She was joined by other polo players from around the world, including Germany and England.
Myers said she was treated practically as royalty in Argentina. Although she shared the home at the ranch with fellow polo players, Myers had her own suite, complete with a maid, a chef and a private bathroom.
Myers said a typical day started at around 9 a.m. with a gourmet cheese- and-meat platter. Then the chef came to take personal food orders from the players. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. was polo practicing time, followed by lunch with egg-white-and-veggie quiches and pear- and-wine ice cream.
The main polo game of the day began at 3 p.m. and lasted two hours before the players retired to their homes for an afternoon nap or went poolside for relaxation.
Dinner was served at 10:30 p.m. with coffee, and the group socialized until 1 or 2 a.m.
“It’s all for about $400 a day, which is a great deal when you realize that room, board, and endless polo with professional polo players are thrown in too,” Myers said..
With Argentina’s economic suffering and a dearth of U.S. dollars in the South American country, Myers said that the people she met were desperate to get their hands on her money.
“We got 1:8 and 1:9 conversions for our dollars to pesos even though the official exchange rate is 1:6, I think,” Myers said..
On previous trips to Argentina, Myers bought custom-made riding boots for $150 USD. During this trip, the same boots were $600 USD.
“The people down there actually figured out that it’s cheaper to buy what you want in Miami and have it shipped down south: clothes, cell phones, computers,” she said.
After five days at the ranch, Myers traveled to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where she stayed at The Glu, a boutique hotel in the Soho Palermo neighborhood created by a friend she had met on a previous trip. (The Soho Palermo district is a downtown district similar to Soho in New York.)
In Buenos Aires she had lunch with former Country Day student Amelia Evrigenis, who is in Argentina studying Spanish.
“I’m pretty sure that was the first English conversation she has had in months,” Myers said.
Evrigenis—who attended SCDS from 1998-2004—has spent the first semester of the academic year in Argentina as part of a study abroad program through Claremont McKenna College.
Myers also attended the Argentine Men’s Open Semi-finals in Buenos Aires, the largest and most prestigious polo match in the world. During the competition, Myers witnessed the Alegria team’s win, the first such win of an American team in 56 years.