April 1, 2008
The Gaucho and the Yankee

A work of short fiction

One particularly fine autumn day in Patagonia along the banks of the Rio Destino, an American mining company executive was taking a walk when he came upon a gaucho sleeping in the grass. The gaucho awoke as the yankee walked past and invited him to take a mate. Not in any real hurry to return to his afternoon of meetings in the nearby town the yankee agreed and took a seat next to the Gaucho on the riverbank. "What do you do?", the yankee asked the gaucho. "Oh, a little of this and a little of that", the gaucho replied, "I like to fish in the river sometimes and go into town on Friday nights to dance." "No, no", the yankee said, "I meant what do you do for work?" "Oh," said the gaucho, pointing, "These are my sheep; I take care of my sheep." "How many do you have?", asked the yankee.  "About thirty, sometimes more, sometimes less," replied the gaucho. "You seem to have quite a lot of pasture here," said the yankee, "couldn't you have more than thirty sheep?" "Para Que? (for what reason)," replied the gaucho. "Because if you had more sheep, you could sell the surplus that your family didn't need at the end of the year," the yankee said. “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "Well, then you could save the extra money in the bank." “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "After a few years of doing that you would have enough money saved to buy more land." "Para Que," asked the gaucho. "Well, (getting excited now) then you could have even more sheep." "Para Que?" asked the gaucho. "If you kept doing that pretty soon you could have your own estancia!" “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "Well once you had the one estancia, you could produce even larger surpluses every year and put that money away in the bank too." “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "With those bigger surpluses you could buy even more estancias." “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "Eventually you could own all of the land between here and the coast!" (really excited now). “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "Once you owned all the land all the way to the coast, you could use your profits to build a port!" “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "Then you could export your surplus wool and mutton to Europe and the United States! (jumping up and down). “Para Que?”  asked the gaucho. "With the profits from that after a few years you could build your own fleet of ships, and then use those ships to bring goods back to Argentina on their return voyages from Europe and the United States, and you could sell those goods here for even MORE PROFITS!" (practically orgasmic) "PERO, PARA QUE???," (But - for what reason???) asked the gaucho, truly wondering if the mate had gone to the gringo's head. "Well," said the yankee, "then you could retire, and relax." The gaucho thought about this for a minute as he looked around him at the river flowing by and the sun falling on the pasture and his sheep grazing, then he raised his hands to the sky with his palms up, and thanked God that he had not been born a gringo.