Prepare for an arduous photo journey. This will be the first of at least two parts.
This is where I began my morning, long before the sun:
The Mercado de Liniers has a maximum capacity of 30,000 head of cattle, but today there were only 10,000. They had come the day before - novillos, vacillos, torneros, old broken-down vacos - all destined for the slaughterhouse by the afternoon.
By dawn, the bidding had begun:
Pictures cannot really get across this experience. It was all about the noise - the bidding, the bells, the lowing of the cows, the gauchos galloping about shouting. I have a video of it but as of yet have not figured out how to load it up online. When I do I'll let you know. For now, trust me when I say it was pretty astounding and great. I mean, if you're really into beef. Which, needless to say, I am.
Here's a typical corral:
I have to admit, they were heartbreakingly cute.
This guy in the beret and poncho with the cell phone around his neck, on the horse, is the buyer for Argentina's biggest and oldest chain of grocery store. He is a grand eminence at the meat market, as you might imagine.
Okay, I've run out of space for pictures on this post.... Will be back with more directly.