Week 37-2018. Sætre/Argentina on horseback. 1999, September 09-15.

01 New church in Spikkestad New church in Spikkestad.

On Sunday we went to a new church, in Spikkestad. The church is built in between three locations where my brother worked. Back at him the family of their daughter came to visit.

02 Spiderweb Spiderweb.

On Monday my brother planned to go shopping in Sweden, in a small nice town called Arvika. The neighbor of my brother came with us. This neighbor goes there regularly because he loves to shop at Lidl. My brother goes there also quite often, always for work on his car which is much cheaper there. It was a nice trip through torrential rains. After shopping we all three went for a swim in the local swimming hall. This swimming hall is nicely equipped with a variaty of baths and sauna. Back at home, we heard that my brother’s daughter will go to hospital on Wednesday to get her birth giving going.

03 Sweden, Arvika Arvika.

On Tuesday I went fishing, on my own. It was raining al day, but I did like it: properly dressed against the rain. Fortunately there was hardly any wind. I did not catch anything. Back at home I noticed that the thermoscan with coffee had been leaking. My cell-phone and my camera where all soaked in coffee. The camera was stored in a pouch and therefor the camera had no damage. I had to take my cell-phone apart and get the coffee out of the inside, from the chipcart and from the battery. I have been lucky, the phone works properly again.

04 Livingroom Livingroom

On Wednesday, my brother and his pregnant daughter and I go to hospital in Drammen for a check on my niece. When she is in hospital we drink coffee, eat cake and walk to the hospital where we wait for his daughter to return to the car. She tells that she has to be back in hospital for the birth on Friday. Her two daughters will stay here, with their grandparents.

05 Hospital in Drammen Drammen, hospital.

Thursday: we stayed at home, but walked in the neighborhood, as usual. I have been busy harvesting apples and cutting them in pieces for the production of apple juice.

06 View to Sætre from rowing boat View to Sætre from the rowing boat.

Friday: I went fishing, now with splendid weather, sunny and only little wind. Again, I did not catch anything not even a sign of a bite. My niece was brought to the hospital by her husband, while the two grandchildren came to their grandparents for the night. We played games, ate, had fun and they went to bed without problem. Around 8 o’clock the husband of my niece rings: the birth has taken place, a big boy is born. Details will follow later.

07 Company during fishing Company during fishing.

Saturday. With my brother and a specialist on the construction of fibreglass boats, we go to his rowing boat. When we have pulled it ashore, a plug in installed within 15 minutes. With that plug, it is possible to unleash water that has got into the double fibre glass walls and floor of the boat. Getting that water out, before winter, is necessary in order to prevent damage through frozen water inside. Later in the afternoon, my brother, his wife and I go to visit their daughter in hospital. We will now see her baby and hear his name. The baby is quite long and heavy and is looking very healthy. Tomorrow they will examine the baby in hospital and when everything is alright, my niece with her baby boy may come home. Everybody is very happy.

08 Work on the boat Work on the boat.

09 Drammen market square Drammen, Central square.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, September 09-15.

I dumped my laundry at a laundrette, went to feed and see my horses and sat down for a quiet evening at the television in the casino. Late in the evening I go see the shoe maker, where I see that he is doing the repairs to my equipment as requested.

17 Chos Malal 2

Thursday, 9th September. The weather is moist. I feed my horses. Pigs are giving birth, calves are dying. Dogs are noisy, like the many parakeets. I picture a ‘chiwa’, some large type of goat.

10-9-9 Chos Malal Chacra Galavanetsji troep parkieten Noisy parakeets.

12-9-9 Chos Malal biggetjes 3 dagen oud Baby pigs.

14-9-9 Chos Malal Chiwa Chiwa.

I go to the hairdresser, where I learn that people are knowing me. I drink maté and visit the shoe-maker. In the newspaper I read yet nothing about me. I picked up laundry and brought them new dirty washings. At the gendarmerie there is ‘inspection’. By they asked to look out for my lost tent in El Cholar. In the poolhall I drank gancia. The horse tamer does not manage to get Jil to lift his legs. It was a quiet day.

15-9-9 Chos Malal karakteristieke straat Street in Chos Malal.

Friday, 10th September. The sky is grey sky a little snow falls when I am up at 8:30. Around the corner, there is a tyre shop. There is take by surprise a little man who stands washing himself in his poor housing. I need a lot of explaining, before the man understands that the only thing I need is a cast of tube. When finally he understands, his cash register starts to ring in his mind: he asks me $2 for it but reacts immediately with lowering the price to $1 when he sees my astonished reaction. I realize later, that maybe this $1 is more then he earns most of his days, because I saw not a single action during days I have been here. With the tube I go to the ‘chacra’ where I find them busy feeding the cows and pigs with maize-pulp. They grind the maize in some sort of a large ‘coffee’ mill driven by a pully from an aged tractor. Daan en Nora are busy grazing behind the herd of cows. When I call the two horse heads shoot up and the hurry to me. Jut appears in full galop soon after and I have to get Jil. It is not easy for them to wriggle through all the cows and pigs, munging their way through troughs filled with maize. They are all four easy to handle and so I manage, without much adoo to get them into the coral where I feed them. After eating they hurry into the meadow and I go do some work with the gummy tube cutting lines out of it. Daniel arrives. The calf, I saw it yesterday, without ability to control its discharge, laying against a stack of hay, is now dead. Nobody bothers to remove it. I noticed that they hardly ever remove dead animal bodies from the place where they died. I have seen them everywhere, along the roads and on lands: horses, cows, goats and dogs. When you are interested in paleontology or in surgery, you can pick up a lot of material to study here. Young green and the rose of Japanese cherrie are sprouting like a flash now. While it looks a lot more friendly this way it can not hide the poverty of the huts people are living in here. Many of these ‘houses’, consist of a jumble of stones overlayed with a poor mixture of cement or clay. They often lack windows. The door is made of planks without a frame, sometimes a door from steelplate of just a roofpanel from corrugated steel. The roof is usually made of corrugated steel (sheer luxury) of corrugated plastic, or just from cut bags from animal food. These bags are very strong and watertight. The put old tyres on the roof to prevent it from being blown away.

23 La Fogata de San Juan

They don’t lack space around their huts. Often they have a horse standing there, together with a pig. The dogs are master there. Gardens are extremely rare, but mud with lots of stones is common as are all sorts of unclear remains, sometimes a load of timber for heating and an axe. They often have trees and sometimes a very old grape across an untidy construction of fencing, where, in summer, they can enjoy their maté in peace. The rate of unemployment is around 30%. The available work is done in a timeless slow pace. I am ready with cutting slings from the tube, Daniel goes to his farm and I walk to my lodging. There is nobody in the casino but the door is open, so I settle near the stove, watch CNN and write a bit. Now, at 12:30, it is raining and I get sleepy, so I go to my dormitory where it is dry and nice warm: I sleep till 15:30. Through the rain I go on foot into town, trying to find a new writing block. The two book stores are still closed. I come to a large building and I see that this weekend they are having their first exhibition of local produce.The building is closed. I ask a young man and he tells me that tonight there will be dancing, starting at 20:00. It is 5 minutes to 4 o’clock when I ask him also when the bookstore opens. He says: at 4 o’clock. He swiftly changes that into 4:30 when I demonstratively take a look at my watch. The young man works in the cultural centre, nearby, and I walk up with him.The centre shows some claypots, needlework, puppets and tapes with folk music (expensive at $10). They have three books about history, also the history of the local Indians. I have seen it all soon and walk along the pleasant city park with a large variaty of fur trees (fully green and dark) to a restaurant. I order a lasagna with beer and while there, I see them opening the bookshop at 17:30. On the other side of the road, there is a bakery from where they take two large cakes, unpacked and uncovered, into a taxi. A cake is expensive with $30, so they can affort a taxi ($2) to deliver them. Walking the cakes through the pouring rain is a bit silly. I buy a new writing block for $0,50 realising that the price so far was anything from $2 down. At the shop I wait a little, when the taxi arrives that took me before to my horses. The first time I paid $2,10 for a shorter trip. Now the taxi meter shows $2,50 but the driver asks me only $ 2. It puzzles me.

The farm is only guarded by a very old but nice little grandma. My four horses stand together at the gate to the small coral, where I feed them. They are all looking on expectantly and follow me to the door where they know the food storage is. I have to look good before I find the key. When they have their food, all the cows are at the gate, watching. A big boar knows the way through the fence, but the dogs know what to do and react to my action: they chase away, with a lot of energy, anything that comes close to my eating horses. They are marvellous, these dogs. After the feeding, I walk back to town through a soft rainfall. I continued straight to the shoe-maker who is busy with my gear. The first bag is ready and looks good. He makes sweet maté and he talks sociable, just like his much older employee. It is quite a mess in his workshop, with materials, items to repair, tools, a huge box with 12 turkey chickens under a lamp, a box with three baby cats crawling, smelling but alive. The mother of the shoe-maker, he tells me, is also joining in the exhibition of handicraft in the hall where local folklore will be presented tonight. He gives me the impression that he will be ready with my order tomorrow, but I doubt that. I went back to the casino and sat down at the place I like. behind the television set, near the stove with a glass of wine. The cook had my dinner ready early today. He is dressed in uniform this time, so he is not civilian after all. Tonight he serves me ravioli. A simple meal for a reason: they are tonight playing a card game called ‘Truco’ at two tables.

21 El truco

I go to my room after dinner, listen to the ‘world broadcast’. I do that regularly because that is the way people from Holland can reach me with emergency messages. I go to sleep till midnight and after that to the hall for the folklore happening. Strange timing they are used to here. It is dark outside the hall and at the gate to the terrain, there are two young guys. One of them aproaches me and asks $1 to enter. I am taken by surprise and give him the money. Indoor, logically, I run into a table with a motherly type with cashregister and tickets. I complain to her about the thief out at the gate, leading to her calling for the young man who guided me to this venue this afternoon. He does not know what to do, so he plays innocence, telling her I come from Holland after which he disappears like a flash. The woman reacts with a helpless gesture when I ask her if anything will happen about it. I guess not, everybody stays indoor. Inside the hall it is rather sociable with quite some people. The hall is huge and the music is too loud. The many people around are probably most family from the performing children, sweet, sociable and very amateuristic. The announcer is the young woman who interviewed me for the local television. The performances vary from sweet dancing groups, boys and girls, to singing guitar players. I like best a group of boys playing a variaty of instruments like panflute, drums, guitars, blockflute, singing and a small type of guitar unknown to me. It sounds good. The event will probably carry on till deep in the night, which I don’t understand with all these children. I have seen enough and go home at 01:00 o’clock. Now I see police at the door, so there was a reaction to my complaint after all. It is totally black and dark outside and I nearly break my legs stepping into one of these narrow but deep open sewers. These streets are, at night, rather tricky: very uneven, steps up, steps down, small stairs and slopes. It is an unruly mess realy. Back in my room I take a nice warm shower and finish my diary, because this is sent by post to Holland, tomorrow.

Saturday, 11th september. I did sleep well and got up early. The sky is half covered, pretty cool and the clouds easily drop some rain. I walk to the farm, where I see my horses far away but together in the field. When I call, Nora is the first to react and soon Daan comes running my way. It is all the time a feel good happening. Two boys are feeding the cows and pigs. To do that they have to pass my eating horses and keep asking: they don’t kick, do they? I assure them that they don’t. I stay with them, because Jut, Jil and Nora move all the time between one big, and two smaller manger while Daan is the silly one having to give way all the time. While Daan is eating, I write with my pad on his back. He allows that and Jil too, most of the time. After the feeding I hurry home to gather everything I want to send away. At 11 I am at the post office where I get a new experience. They don’t handle parcel to be sent internationally and they tell me that rather blunt. I guess they are ashamed of it. They tell me I will have to go to Neuquen for it, which is not true because from Zapala it was done easily! Anyway, it means that I have to carry 2 kilo’s extra, at least to Malarque where I will probably meet a Dutch contact. Back at the casino I prepare maté for the cook and me. The cook gives me the maximum score for it: well done. At midday I go to the laundrette where they have my cloths clean and ready. In a café called Bahia, I work out my travelplan for 2 weeks to Malarque. I work out my diary and prepare messages to sent by e-mail later this afternoon. I was 2 hours in that café so I ordered a meal as well. Back at my dormitory I change cloth before walking to the farm. On my way, Daniel picks me up: he fed the horses already. We go there again and when I whistle, they come running fast cutting capers all the way. I give them some extra grain as a reward. Daniel says he is going to his salt mine, on the other side of the river Neuquen and asks me to join. Of course I do. First we unload some cows from a truck. After that we leawve: Daniel, a cousin and me. First we go to another farm along the RN40. We pass many free walking horses. Daniel knows them and their owners too. I also see mules. With this beautiful weather it is clearly to see why this town is called ‘Chos Malal’, which is Mapuche language for ‘yellow table mountain’. The hills around town are yeloow colored. Beyond the hills you see all around, the snow capped mountains with also the volcano Traumen. It is a poor but spectacular view without much growth. At the outpost we are first met by a cute little gaucho obliging ticking his sombrero, which makes my host and his cousin laugh a lot. A bit further we meet a jolly fellow, European type and another gaucho busy with fire wood. They chase some cows of various sizes and colors into a gangway, where Daniel gives them an injection with some sort of an automatic tool. After the injection the cute little gaucho cuts 10cm off the tail of the cow. When done with all, he guides the cows to their grounds. We get into the car again and ride to another poor area, through a gate which was closed with a key-lock and via a winding road we arrive at his salt mine. I did not expect much and get that: it is a mess. There are some stone huts and even a weigh bridge. The mine has three galleries (passages) and we enter one using a flashlight. After 50 meters of gallery we arrive in a fairly large hall where they dig out the salt. In the light of the light, the crystals sparkle, red, rose and white. It is a wonderful sight and I take some samples for my collection. Outside the mine there is a mass of salt of course, all weathered through rain, to a sharp pointed moon like landscape. It is the sole saltmine around. There are other mines, for gold for instance. We are back in town around 19:00. I go around, to check on e-mail possibilities and on my shoe-maker. I have to come back tomorrow. Then I go to the hall where they now have a two day market for home products. It is busy there and many of the people I know by now. The variaty of products is enormous: trigo, bread, dulce de leche, preserved vegetables and fruits, pickled vegetables, jams etcetera. Further, woodcarving, pottery, painter, embroidery, needlework, jewelry, cardigans, puppets and much more. I don’t stay long, because it is late already for my dinner at the gendarmerie. When I arrive there, it is full with cars and they are busy preparing meat. I join the men at one of the fires, where they serve me well, with good meat, wine, salad and bread. They all want to hear about my journey and they ask thousands of questions. We talk about the economy, travelling, horses, soccer, jobs and politics. There is a lot of laughter, foolishness and I don’t understand all of it, but it is very jolly. A bit later I am called inside for a special occasion. A man who is 25 years in service, is being adressed. He gets a nice charter and is clearly touched, wiping away a few tears: sweet. After the ceremony follows the congratulations and a picture taken with his collegues. I have to join in and get a picture taken with the man. The party is starting well now, noisy, pleasant and interesting because I am fully enclosed in the whole happening. At 01:00 I retire and fall asleep like a log.

19 Chos Malal omgeving toeristische routes 8 sept

Sunday, 12th September. The weather this morning is gloomy and rain may fall. Chano, the horse tamer is around at the farm. The horses are near each other in the meadow. I don’t have to go for them; they come although slow. When I have them in the coral, I realise all of a sudden that they are without their new headsets. Surprised I ask Chano about it and he immediately suspects they have been stolen. That is a drag, because they did cost $20 each. The cousin arrives as well and they are both upset about it. This is a case for the police, they say. I agree but first I want to see Damiel about it. Daniel is in the field and expected to be back around 16:00, so I wait for him to return because I think it better to let him talk to the police. When I leave, Chano and the cousin say they are going to search the meadow. To me that seems useless, because losing one headset could be possible, but three together seems totally unreal. I think they have other plans, unknown to me. I will see. I need some time to get over it, take a nap because the casino is closed, and walk to the museum, a good looking and probably well kept large building at the end of the mainstreet. It opens its doors on Sunday at 15:30 and I am to early, so I walk on to the hall with the exhibit of home products. It is quiet there now. All the exhibitors are drinking maté, at ease. I buy a home made cake for $0,50 and a jar with ‘dulce de leche’ (sort of caramelised milk to use on bread), eat my cake and write diary at a table. People come to have a look. The mother of the shoe maker, she does wool spinning, comes for a chat and offers me her maté as well. After that I go home, have a nap and eat some. At 16:00 I go see Daniel and have coffee with him. He is sure about the theft of the three headsets. From his place I walk to the now open museum. It is small but neat. I get some postmarks in my writing pad, replicas from age old Indian sketches. In the museum I see a piano, an organ, a grape press, sables and guns, archeological finds, arrow points, jewelry, lots of minerals and pictures and paintings from the 19th century.

16-9-9 Chos Malal museum in voormalig fort The museum.

After the visit of the museum, I go to the police station where I denounce the theft of the headsets. The policemen are nice guys, but terribly slow. They are watching soccer on tv, drink maté and ask me a thousand questions about my trip, so I am occupied there for 1,5 hours. After that, with 4 policemen in their car to the farm where it all happened. At 15.000 inhabitants, there are a 100 policemen, quite excessive I think. At the farm the people are lightly alarmed, they are being questioned and pictures are taken from my horses. It is exciting for all, it does not lead to anything yet, but they all agree that it is absolutely necessary to have it denounced. It is late by now and the policemen drop me at the internet shop, where I enter at 19:00. Hotmail is terribly slow here, failing totally from time to time resulting in hardly any work done at 22:00. Now I have to go to the casino for dinner and it is too late to see the shoe-maker. This means that I can not leave tomorrow, but have to be up early, around 8 o’clock to meet at the police station. Dinner is served quickly and it is tasty: rice with two big pieces of beef.

20 De vuelta pa' Las casas

Monday, 13th of September. I did sleep uneasy. Logical, because I don’t have an alarm. I am early at the gate, drink maté with the guard awaiting Daniel. He takes me to the farm where we feed the horses. Then I go to the shoe-maker, who appears to be ready with my order. I pay him $90 for all the work done. I have lunch at restaurant Ruso, where I hear that Gessler has been waiting there two hours, hoping to meet me again. After lunch I go take a nap and pack my saddle bags. At 21:00 I made a phone call to a friend in the East of Argentina. He asks me to call him again when I am three travelling days away from Malargüe. I am back with Daniel at 21:45 for an appointment tomorrow morning. At the gendarmerie I go see the second in command to say goodbye. He hands me recommendations for the gendarme in Malargüe, which is very nice and welcome. At 22:00 I eat in restaurant Bahia and write diary. Today there was a strong and cold wind, but it stayed dry. Back in the casino I continue packing my bags and go to bed at 01:00 o’clock.

Tuesday 14th September. The 100th travel day (305 days in Argentina).

During the night I got neighbours, late and noisy which is habitual in Argentina. I am awake at 5 but stayed in bed for another hour, nice and easy. I get out of bed at 6:15 for breakfast. It is stormy outside, with fierce gusts of wind. At 7:15 I am at my horses, it is still dark but they come up to me without delay. I feed them and apply new headsets. They are turning their heads when I do and it cost some time. Just after 8 I am back at my dormitory and just eating when Daniel arrives. He waits patiently. When I am done eating, we load my luggage in the pick-up truck and drive back to the gendarmerie. We are allowed to drive the car onto the yard making it easy for us to load the saddles and other stuff. The weather has eased fortunately. At the farm I get my horses, who were waiting quietly and tie them up close to the truck. Preparing them with saddles and luggage goes fast and easy. At 10 I am ready, give Daniel a bag with obsolete materials, which he likes, say goodbye and mount. We have to cross the whole town and that takes a lot of time. Just outside of town there is a sign, telling me that Buta Ranquil is 97 kilometers away. Nora is going reasonably quick. Jut is tiresom, all the time wanting to go ahead and walking closely side to side with Jil who does not like that at all and laying his head on the behind of Nora. He is silly. It is all a waste of energy, all that hazzle. Daan is usually obediently walking behind the lot but every now and than they are going like a closed front, all four in line in front. The first stretch is still almost Austrian lovely, but nearer to the volcano Tromen is becomes awfully bad. We are winding up and down, with the ice cold wind sometimes suddenly raging through a pass, so strong that Nora is unable to carry on in a straight line. It is a wonder that I manage to keep my cap, because sometimes we ride in a lee and then, all of a sudden, the gale force wind hits us by surprise. The country side is terribly poor here with only sufficient water around. The rock formations are impressive and at various places the water seeps through very slow causing the formation of stalagtites of chalk, or is it ice? It is to cold and raw to stop, but for short periods. When I come across a sort of shop at 13:00, I stop for half an hour. Two guys are eating there, so I do the same: hot sausages, cheese, salami and home made bread. It is all the maid produces. After this, there is absolutely nothing like habitation until Auranco, a hamlet where we arrive around 5 o’clock, nice on time. There is a school and some 30 families live here, a hundred humans spread out. There is a large lake, but the salty water is not potable, not for the horses either. At the house, nearest the road, I ask for Mariano Fuentes. It is his home, a small shop. Mariano is away for four days to work. They however know about me, my trip and my due arrival. That helps. Mariano’s wife Rachel, a 14 year old son Mariano jr. and a 17 year old son Juan Carlos, live here and keep the business running with pain and trouble. We unsadle near a shed and get the horses into a fenced off area with a shelter. They get a bale of hay and Mariano digs a trench for water. Mariano thinks that I will have to sleep near my luggage, but Rachel decides otherwise. I can sleep in the house, where it is a bit warmer. The two boys are mature and wise for their age. At the stove we drink sweetened maté. Through the window I have a splendid view across the country and the beautiful sky changeing colors fast. The colors change from blue, to yellow, to green, to grey, to black and to deep red. They don’t have electricity, because a hydro electrical turbine does not function: this is Argentina. Rachel cooked a tasty meal, rice, chicken and wine. I ate excellent. We don’t talk much, because they don’t know much. They don’t read newspapers and I even ask myself if they learned to read. Juan Carlos of 17 years, maintains and drives the pick-up truck. In the evening he takes the cooling water out, because sometimes it freezes strongly, especially in the morning. The storm is still going and the boys tell me this is always the case with a ‘new moon’. After the dinner I go to bed soon. I got rather tired from this daytrip, in particular from that rageing wind. My bed is large, warm and comfortable. The wind is tearing and pulling and shaking everything, and I am surprised that things stay in shape.

22 Gaucho leunend op paard

Wednesday, 15th September, the 101th travel day. In the middle of the night I wake up. In my room there is a small window and it rattles. The window and the frame are metal like most windows and doors in this area. The fasteners are the self tapering type and they have come loose. Luckily I do have my leatherman tool with me. After 10 minutes of work, all screws are tightened and the window is thoroughly closed. After that I sleep very well. At 6:45 I wake up and feel fresh, so I get out of bed. Rachel and her sons sleep in an other part of the house, so I can move around freely, in the livingroom, kitchen and bathroom. I like it. I lit the gas lamp, washed myself and got dressed. I tried to lite the stove, but the chimney is drawing the air so fierce, that all my trials are blown out. I got fire wood from an large heap outside. These are like usual, the roots of bushes and extremely dry. They burn very well, but they are so wrinkled that they are difficult to enter into the stove. When they are lit, they burn fast and you will be very busy keeping the fire going. I am still busy with it, when Rachel pops up and lites the fire with the help of a lot of diesel fuel. She makes maté and hands me the key from the barn where my luggage and the hay are. The bale of hay I throw into the coral, is nearly completely blown into the fencing, giving my horses some work to do. My breakfast consists of ñaco with warm water and crackers with cheese. Mariano and Rachel keep me company with eating the crackers and the cheese. After that, Mariano helps me packing and saddling the horses. While we are busy with that, a large corrugated steel plate gets blown off by the storm. Daan and Jut panic and get themselves tangled up in their ropes and fixings causing some damage. Mariano gets hold of the steel plate and fixates it by throwing some beams and stones on it. After that we calm the two horses down and tie them up again. Packing and saddling is going fast with Mariano’s help enabling me to be ready to go at half past ten. The weather is strange. I have the gale force warm wind from behind. Yet I have my head fully dressed to protect it from the tiresome roar in my ears and flying sand with small stones. At a certain moment we are followed by two loudly winnying horses. When I look back, I spot a helplessly running little guy with a rope in his hands, so I stop. He is endlessly grateful, because he can now lead his horses into the direction he wants them to go, contrary to mine. The road is winding enormously, ascending and decending while the wind is roaring through the valleys with such a speed and force, that I need all my strength and attention to stay seated in the saddle. After half an hour struggling and fighting, I see oncoming cars with their headlights on. From a high location I see why. Deep down I see a plane like a real desert and the whole plane is blurred from sand, dust and grit being driven on with enormous speed and mass. I get a feeling over me from disconcerting paltriness and realize myself how powerless we people are against the powers of God. Tons of materials are, per hour, being moved here over great distances. Some of my equipment is blown away, no matter the fact that they were very well tight up. My solarpanel is by now hanging horizontally. Fortunately it can not get off, because accidentally I nailed it this morning to the saddle. I am unable to stay mounted because the wind has such a force that I am blown, with sadle and all, over Nora’s head. So I dismount. Yet we proceed quite well with me having to get into a trot in order not to be blown over. It is all togather a very tiring adoo, because solely staying on course takes a lot of energy. We too end up in a cloud of sand, stone and dust, where the sight is no more than 3 meters. After 15 minutes I seek refuge for a while into a gully where we are more or less sheltered, relatively. Our eyes hurt from the sand. The horses are clearly having a difficult time too, but they keep going. Roughly one and a halve hour we are struggling forward this way. Then, all of a sudden, it opens up, nearly totally calm and warm. After again a winding stretch of road where there is again some wind, I am taken by surprise when I have Buta Ranquil in sight. It then is 18:30. The streets, mud and gravel, are lined with many trees. A large teethless but welcoming man who nearly shouts me out of my socks, shows me a hostel. It appears to be closed, but when I am rattling the door, a jolly young man appears asking me ‘time out’. He unlocks the doors and I enter and I drop down into an easy chair, with a bottle of Gancia, soda-water and lemon. Two large cold glases disappear like snow in the sun, while the young man moves a millimeter of dust from bar, tables and the floor. The guy is hospitable, understanding and helpful. So it does not take long before I get a dorm with 2 bunkbeds, a very simple bathroom (all is there but nothing is completely in order) and masses of space. I take saddles and luggage off, of the horses tied next to the entrance. A third person is already on his way to buy hay and grain. I gave him $15 and my host asks me if I am not afraid that they might just disappear with that money. No, I am not I say and so much confidence is doing him good, I see. The horses go into a shed without a roof, sheltered from the wind but no door and heaps of broken glass. With a rope, a piece of tube, an old carseat and crates with empty bottles, we produce some sort of a fence in order to keep the horses contained. It is absolutely not ideal, but there is nothing else. The third man returns with 25 kilo grain. Hay he could not get. I get money back, its perfect. Feeding the horses the grain in the dark is an adventure in its own rights. Four hungry horses in a small confined area, moving around me kicking and biting to one another, is it a wonder, do they know to respect me or is it just shear luck? It all works out well. Later I feed them water from a bucket. The same ritual is repeated. The horses bodies push me from all sides. Especially Nora and Daan push me with their heads in all directions. It feels very funny and it is a very happy experience. After taking care of my horses I am, dusty and dirty, with a guide going to a restaurant. I only eat half of what was presented, because primarily it did not like the taste and secondly I did drink so much, that I am no longer hungry. Back in the hostel they try to keep my attention for talking, but first I go take an extensive shower: lovely lots of hot water and soap. At first the soap does not want to foam, due to the loads of dust on my body in all my pores. After the shower I dress and go to the hall where lots of youth are having fun with the pooltable and game computers. I go join an older man sitting alone at a table. The ‘boss’ comes with maté and we get into a lively conversation. Jorge, the older man, tells me all about the road for the next few days. He is full of enthusiam. The man who bought the food for my horses is also joining up and many others are joining, just listening and sometimes asking specific things. It is so pleasant and animated that I only at 01:00 o’clock see how late it is. I go to bed, tired, satisfied and with a recommendation for ‘free of charge’ lodging at Chuco Elem which is probably tomorrow in Barrancas.

27 xx-web wk 37 Neuquen


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Week 36-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, September 02-08.

01 Schiphol verkeerstoren Schiphol.

Sunday was as usual, with one exception: the service in church start at 10:30, so half an hour later. This is the winter time. My friend Hanke did not come to church. I met her for coffee at her home and walked with the dog Toets. Toets chased a lovely full grown deer into my direction. After the walk I drove to Eemnes, where I watched the formula 1 race from Monza. Kenneth joined me in watching and we saw our favourite driver become 3rd effectively but after a 5 second time penalty he ended up 5th on the chart.

02 Initilty Arena dames voetbal Noorwegen-Nederland (1) Initilty Arena, Oslo.

On Monday I did all my laundry, including bedding. I did that early in the morning and had it dried in the evening. I made my bed, packed my backpack and placed all food stuffs from my refrigarator into the freezer.

Tuesday morning I walked with my luggage to the bus stop where my journey to Norway started. All went smooth until the start of the flight. Departure time was sceduled for 11:50 and I was early at the gate. First I got an app from KLM about a 20 minute delay. Soon after that first announcement a second one came: change of gate and a further delay. The departure time realised was 13:40, nearly 2 hours delay. I asked the purser about the cause of this delay. He told me that at the Oslo airport, they had seen an oil leakage in the hold of the plane. The repair of that leak, following the procedures of quality assurance, took a lot of time.

03 Achtergevel Living Sætre, back.

Other passengers appeared to be supporters of the female Dutch soccer team, having a match with the Norwegian women in Oslo. I was going to see that game with my brother as well. Now all where concerned about the effect of this delay: will we be in time to see the match? At Gerdermoen, the Oslo airport, I hurried to the train taking me to Lillestrøm where I found my brother patiently waiting for me. I had informed him via sms messenger, already from Schiphol but strange enough he had not received my messages. We drove to Oslo and walking up to the stadium, we just heard the game start. We only missed the first couple of minutes but saw the Norwegians attack the Dutch goal fast and furious. Within 10 minutes the score was already 2-0 for Norway. The Dutch girls needed a lot of time to get into swing, resulting in only 1 goal. Norway won the game by 2-1 and they deserved it. I concluded that they had followed a good tactic and I in my opinion, the Norwegians played it much more mature. From the stadium we arrived without delay in Sætre, where my sister in law was waiting with a lovely late dinner.

04 Oogst, pruimen, peren Production juice and jam.

On Wednesday and Thursday I helped my brother with further defensive measures at the borders of their garden, fencing it off against intrusion of deer. Deer are seeking refuge in his garden, while eating from their plants, flowers and crop. We picked up a lot of fallen apples and they received an enormous bag full of small pears. The whole day we were busy with the production of pear and prune juice and the production of apple sauce. Early in the evening my pregnant niece came, with her two daughters. I made a picture of the huge belly of my niece and handed some presents for the children.

05 Pet cadeau Me with cap.

On Friday the weather has changed from nice and sunny to grey and threatening. The three of us made a short walk through the neighborhood. My niece came again, now with only her youngest daughter: the gave me a nice colouring and a useful cap, still for my birthday. In the evening we had the usual Friday-evening happening, drinking their beet-wine and eating flatbrød with cheese.

06 Sætre uitzichten Sætre.

On Saturday the weather forecast promised rain and a brake of good weather in between. My brother and I went to his rowing boat, prepared it and took off for fishing, hoping to catch some mackarel. We did a nice roundtrip, going at an easy pace, passing places where my brother never went. It was a pity that we did not catch any fish, not even a sign of a bite. We have been lucky with the weather. Soon after our return, it started to rain. Tonight we have again cheese with crackers but this time with a bottle of Bordeaux wine bought at Schiphol.

07 Dreigende wolken

Sætre bay.

08 Juul komt roeiend aan Ready for fishing.


Argentina on horseback. 1999, September 01-08.

After my dinner I got lazy and watched further on television what happened in the world, on CNN and on Deutsche Welle. At 22:30 I went to bed, listening to the Dutch World Broadcast. Outside it is now dry and calm.

09 Apadrinando

Thursday, 2nd September. At 02:30 I was awake, had a pee and a peace of cheese to eat, before going asleep again until 8 o’clock. It is heavily clouded, with few wind but water-cold. First, I heated and ate the left-overs from yesterday The luggage packed and called the horses. They arrive rapidly, in line with Jil leading the pack. They follow the bag with grain, into the corral where I feed them. It is not much, what I got. Fortunately Tato’s son arrives with a bucket full of grinded maize. Jil gets it first, then Daan quiet as always. Nora and Jut are making a fuzz, racing, yelling and nearly kicking in the door of their habitat, clearly jealous. When I get them out, they are totally at ease. When ready to go, it is 11:45 and dry. Yet I am fully dressed for bad weather: cowskin overshoes, scarf and cardigan. I am satisfied to have done that, it keeps me warm. To El Huecú we travelled pretty fast, Jut is riding lovely and Jil is not protesting to much. El Huecé is situated in an idyllic valley, actually at the entrance to the valley, because from there we climb, something like 900 meters. When at the top, I look down into the valley and it is beautiful, lots of water and grass, only few trees and thinly spread cottages. He valley ends at the snow capped mountains. Here, as high as this, we travel through snow. The road is not much more then a mud-path. We see only three cars on this path and they pass us with a lot of curiosity. During further climbing, snow begins to fall and for half an hour, the water in ditches is undecidedly flowing either to the left or to the right. When we descend again, it is, on this side of the pass, colder and wetter. Jut passes the sometimes fast flowing streams and the bridges without much pushing and that is fine. We are nevertheless not going fast, due to the long and tiring climb. When we leave the pass and enter the next valley, there is a farm to the left which we reach going through a stream again. The keeper approaches us, Carlos Narambuena from Ea. La Greda. At first he is a bit carefull, but soon enough he opens up to a positive approach. Only a few minutes after me, a young gaucho (Humberto of 22 y) and two men with a tractor arrive and Carlos is a bit uncertain about how to handle all this. But then he shows me his home, places a huge pan of soup at the fire and orders me to start eating without holding back. He himself leaves with the tractor, to retreive his pick-up van which got stuck somewhere. That did not take much time. His car had been there, stuck, for 4 days. The reason is, that Carlos does not have a radio or telephone to call for assistance. He, or his gaucho, had to go by horse to El Cholar, 10 kms away, to arrange for help and, it is not exceptional, the tractor was broken as well. Carlos and the two guys from the tractor drink talk and drink maté while I continue eating. When the tractor is gone, Carlos joins me eating the soup with huge lumps of goat (chiwa) meat, lentils, rice, hole potatoes, onion, carrot and garlic. It is a rich and very tasty soup. We consume it together with bread, red wine and some sort of herbal lemonade. Carlos tells me, he bought this land 15 years ago. There was just land, nothing else. He built the house. He worked 30 years for ‘Gas Sur’ and is now living on his pension. He left his job because of the stress of it. The kind of life he is now living suits him much better, and he is not dependent of its income. When he wants, he goes to Neuquen for a couple of weeks. After some consult with Humberto we go to work. The horses are quietly standing together awaiting what is going to happen. We unpack them and take them to a fenced off muddy area where they have a refuge as well. Around the house it is one big mudpool as well. It does not matter at all. Carlos is a curious type: hospitable, intelligent and well informed. In his livingroom, also office and diningroom, the television is on, all day spitting out information via various channels: TN (Argentine news), CNN, Periodicas, Rural (local farmes television). Further furnishments are a large round table covered with a mass of paperwork, three glasses and the remote control for his TV, a three pit gascooker, a large longitudinal table with quite comfortable chairs, a stable sink with hot- and cold water. Furthermore an unbelievable amount of boxes of all sizes on- and under tables, chairs, boxes filled with an assorment of goods for which a hardware store would become jealous. From this room you have a spectacular view into the valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Behind this living room, there is some sort of a hallway and a large bathroom. Behind the bathroom is Carlos’ bedroom with two beds, heated, radio, gigantic mess of cloth, matrasses, bedding, laundry. In this bedroom is a staircase leading to are huge loft with windows and again two beds, masses of matrasses, blankets and cushions. Electricity, light, a night stand and floorlamp. This is where I am going to sleep. In the house there are two nice cats; a mean grey one and a friendly woolly black-and-white one. Humberto is always joining in for the evening meal; he backed torta fritta for me, to take with me tomorrow. Carlos says he is not an atheist and beleives there, in the universe to be a lot of unknown ‘things’. They themselves experienced, during an unexpected thunderstorm, the sight of a very strong light with in the middle concentrated a clear beam of strong light, like a laserbeam. Fascinating story. Carlos tells me that the reason for them to keep my horses in the coral is, that the type of grass they have here, very locally, is something the horses must be accustomed to. Horses eating it for the first time, get very sick for a couple of days. We go off to bed at 23:00 after a pleasant evening talking.

10 Boekjes, maté, tango en gaucho

Friday, 3rd September. 97th travel day.

I have slept well, even though I heard Carlos snoring and the radio on. At 8 is get up, wash and pee. I thought that Carlos might be out, but all of a sudden I heard him snore loudly. Later, during breakfast, he tells me that the water from the tap tastes a bit of soil. I had no problem with it. The weather is fine and we don’t expect to see rain, so I put my rainsuit away. We go easy, because my goal for today is El Cholar, only 10 km away. I planned to take my horses to the gendarmerie and stay in the hostel opposite the gendarmerie, for the weekend. We proceed very well but I get the impression that Jut is walking uneven. I don’t like it. At 13:00 we are at the cross roads: to the right is Chos Malal and to the left is El Cholar. On my right I ask information, because a sign says that at 5 kms from here to the right, there is something called Tres Chorros. I am told this is a community of huts from Indians and they are far from the roadside. So I decide to do as planned and go to the gendarmerie.

11 Chos Malal 1 In Autumn.

I am met by two gendarmes, a soldier and a lieutenant (Nikki). They are friendly and interested, serving me with Coca Cola and a large plate with rice and chicken, coffee for afters.The horses are unpacked and given alfalfa to eat. I get a bed for the night. Nikki plans immediately to escort me tomorrow. We all take a nap and after that I clean from three horses their hoofs. Nora has some stones stuck in her hoofs, while Jut is, again, missing the iron on his left front leg. I wonder why that happens all the time and always from the same leg. We confer a while and then the hoof smith, also veteranarian but effectively on holiday, appears with all his tools. He provides Jut with a new iron from my spares. With the help of the hoof-smith I again try to inspect Jil’s hoofs. We only manage to do two legs and those are spotless. The horses from the gendarme are going into their boxes, while my horses are led into the corral with alfalfa. While we are busy, Carlos, from yesterday, appears with my plastic bag filled with sanitary stuff like tooth brush, tooth paste, tar soap, vitamin pills and shaving knife. Apparently I have forgotten to pack that this morning. It is very nice of him to bring it to me. In the evening I do some shopping with Nikki, afterwards we all watch soccer, drink beer and eat pizza. It is funny, warm and pleasant. They get me some extra blankets, because my sleeping room is not heated. All else is very much okay, like a shower for instance. A horse and a mule walk around, stealing the food from my horses. It is fun to see the gendarmes and their dogs chasing them away, but they return very self-willed soon enough. At the supermarket I spot a gaucho family busy leaving: father on his horse, his wife with daughter and child with their shoppings on a second horse. Nearly at every house there is a horse standing in the garden. After the soccer game, I take a shower, watch a very old movie and go to bed.

12 Chos Malal gendarmerie 8 sept

Saturday, 4th of September. 98th travel day.

I faguely heard it during the night. It was raining cats and dogs and now, at 6:30 it still is. I take my time to get up, wash, eat, drink maté and watch some TV. I park my horses each on a pole and feed them. One of the horses from the gendarme wriggles itself out of his box and tries to get some alfalfa. He is only succesful with Daan, the most social horse of them all. I pack and saddle the horses in streaming rain. Three gendarmes are doing the same. When I am about ready, a girl and her mother appear. They came to interview me for the local radio station. The mother is the reporter while the girl is there for the translation. That was fun. When I mount, the three gendarmes are ready located behind my lot. My animals are getting very nervous with these three behind, so I ask them to get in front and that works a lot better. I ride Daan, today without a bit. He is a little confused at first, but get accustomed to it fast enough and then we travel in a good pace, out of the village. I have to keep Daan short, because he wants to fast all the time. The three gendarmes are looking very comfortable in their ponchos. The ponchos are made from rubber with nylon and can be used as a tent. I lost my tent somewhere, so I am going to try and buy such a poncho. They breath better and then my overall does not get so wet from transpiration moist. When we hit the road, Daan is already happy working without a bit. The only thing he has to learn is to slow down. He is so fast, the dear skinny animal. Jut is also special, always trying to get in front and most of the time close against Jil, causing his luggage to get out of order. Nora does not like this behaviour and is kicking and biting in his direction. It is rather unruly behind me but we proceed very well nevertheless. Daan, in the meantime is totally undisterbed and often I see out of the corners of my eyes, the nose from Jil to the left and the head of Jut to the right. Lieutenant Nikki rides with us nearly all the time, while the two soldiers ride their own pace, often through the countryside, taking short cuts where the road is winding and that is often. No matter the continuous rain it is a lovely ride like this and beautiful as well. We climb and descend all the time and often for 200 meters in altitude, winding through a friendly colourful landscape. To the left, deep down, is the winding rio Neuquen. The higher hills are mostly covered in grey rainclouds. It is not cold. After two hours together, we separate with a hearty farewell. I stop to rearrange some of the luggage on Jil, shifted because of the tricks from Jut.

13 Chos Malal plattegrond 7 sept

I have all the time to look around. The colours are fantastic. The flora is very diverse and besides the usual yellow and brown there is a variaty of greens, because some of the flora are getting their new leafs already. The soil and rocks are multi coloured, with a lot of red, purple, pure light green, clear yellow and snow white. It is a splendid view and this area is clearly rich on minerals. I stopped for a pee and while doing that, Daan takes off and the whole quartet walks off in a good pace. It is not dangerous here, so I follow them for half an hour, fortunately descending. In a flat bend of the road I pick them up again. As I suspected I found them there, quietly munching away on the juicy grass there. They show no surprise or stress when I unravle them from the ropes around them. When mounted again, Daan is leading the pack so fast, that I can not stay seated and have to lift my butt in his frequency in order to feel good myself. Two cars approach me and stop for a chat. I ask them to look out for my lost tent and, if they find it, deliver it to the gendarmes in El Cholar. From there it will no doubt be brought to the gendarme in Chos Malal. I wonder. The second car is from ‘Fauna Control’. I ask the driver about a farm called Rahueco. To my surprise they tell me that this farm is only another 5 kilometers away. That is unexpectedly good news and apparently we have had a fast journey today. I had planned to arrive there around 6 o’clock and now I can expect to be there around 4 o’clock. Via a clear path downhill we cut short again quite some distance. I spot the farm further down. By now the sky is open and it is dry. We enter the grounds, directly beside the road. A man with two children, was on his way to a large barn, but he turns to me, alarmed by the 5 large dogs running towards me loudly barking. We make acquaintence and I am welcome. He leads me to a row of trees where I park the horses. Then we enter the house, meet his family and these formalities, I unpack my horses under large public attention. My luggage is stored in a dry room and my personal belongings I take with me into the house. The horses are brought into a meadow together with the Frisian milk cows. They tell me, they use the milk to produce cheese. They also grow some crops, for trade.

The family consists of: grandmother Abuela (65), father Rodrigo (32), mother Maria (29), Vanessa (9) and Mathias (3). Their staff consists of Manuel (Chilean), Orlando and Fernando. Partner in the ownership of the animals is Nestor Arias.

Grandmother Abuela prepares a complete wing in the house for me. The bed is made, nice and warm. It squeacks, creaks, shakes and is sagging. The bathroom is complete. Lighting is with candles. They don’t have electricity, nor telephone, radio or tv. This farm is for sale, like many others in this latter part of my journey. After dinner, with bread and cheese from many ages, and a lot of pleasant talking, everybody goes to bed at 22:00. Life here is clearly coupled with daylight.

14 De vuelta al pago

Sunday, 5th September. The night was a bit unruly. It was too warm, so I took off first my socks, then my longjohn and at the end I went out of my sleeping bag. I am bent, because of the sagging of the bed and my right knee hurts. The pain in my knee is from the kick Nora gave me two weeks ago. At 9 I am ready to show myself to the world. In front of my bedroom door, I find the whole family in a circle drinking matè. I join them. Maria is producing torta fritta, which we eat warm and that is very tasty. At 10:30 two men from Buenos Aires appear. After coffee, Rodrigo tells me that they are going to view the farm on horse back. I am allowed to join them, so I saddle Nora like a flash. At a quiet pace we cross the lands. Nora is not too happy, she misses the others from my herd. The three men watch, discuss and sit. We cross many streams, go up and down steep slopes, pieces of land and parts full of stones. The trip does not take two hours as suggested, but 4 hours. There blows a strong cold wind. One of the men tells some of the local history: during the years of the ‘conquistadores’ a large group of indians had ben cornered here. They did not want to be captured and committed suicide, the whole group, by plunging into the then much stronger river from a high rock. The 6 large dogs that accompanied us, are going after a hare, but loose it. The most exciting for me is, the sudden sight of 3 Condors circling just above us. It is an amazing sight and fulfils a wish I had for some time. When you don’t follow them wish your eyes and you search for them again, they appear to be far away in a matter of seconds, without apparently flapping a wing. Apart from this experience, I am primarily cold. When back near the farm, my horses greet us with exuberant whinnying and Nora is clearly very glad to be united with the others. The ladies treat us with soup, spaghetti, tasty cinnamon flan and coffee. When the two strangers are gone, I am told that they were really looking for a location where they could exploit tourists. In my opinion this location need a lot of work before they can accomplish that. But, I am not in that business and they saw possibilities for rafting the river Neuquen for instance. The evening is pleasant and warm. Grandma suffers from itching hands, an allergy. I give her a treatment with udder-ointment and she says it helps. She also has a hart condition. Rodrigo measures her bloodpressure and hart beat. At 22:00 we go to bed.

15 Chos Malal werk gendarmerie 8 septGendarmes at work.

Monday, 6th September, 99th travel day. At 6 I am up and start preparations to leave. It is silent everywhere. Outside there is a lot of wind and there are regular heavy showers. At 8:30 Manuel appears. He lights all the stoves, which goes with quite some smoke through the whole house. With a rope in my hand I enter the meadow, where my horses should be, but I see nothing. When I whistle they appear in no time as a group. They follow me through the gate, but when I get Daan and attach him to a tree, Jil knows what is going to happen and takes off, back into the meadow. It takes me a while to get him where I want him, in the corral and fixed to a tree. When that is done, my fingers are stiff from cold and I am soaking wet, so I go back into the house and enjoy maté close to the stove. I tell Rodrigo how Walter, some days ago, fires his stoves with a mixture of sawdust and diesel-oil. A few spoons full of this mixture is sufficient to get the fire going: without all the smoke. When my hands are warm again, I prepare my horses noticing that they are given a lot of alfalfa: a bit late but nevertheless very welcome. The horses are eating, so I go back into the house. While we are spoiled with scrambled eggs, bread and lots of cheese, we discuss my plans for today. Rodrigo packs a bag with half a large cheese and a big bag with Trigo, for my nurishment today and the rest of the week. Trigo, or Niaco in Chili, is moulded roasted maize. It is very nourishing and much used around here. It is eaten dry with sugar or with hot milk, with water, with beer and even with wine. When I make my way to depart, they are suggesting to stay and wait for better weather. I however am of the opinion that waiting has no sense, because it can stay bad for a long time or change to the better in no time at all. They basically agree to that approach. Besides that, ‘bad weather’ does not exist but ‘bad clothing’ does. Its is pouring, with wet snow but fortunately the wind comes from behing. I am dressed in everything I have and feel alright with it. Daan is going like a flash as usual, there is no traffic and there is no need to give the horses guidance. We go fast and after the dirty showers at departure, it is soon dry and I am becoming pretty warm. I don’t have to use my hands for driving, so I can read my map while riding. The scenery is again colorful and again it is nice to see the fresh green from spring appearing everywhere. There has been so much rain, that the water in all the streams is multi colored muddy from brown to yellow, red and green. At 13:00 a pick-up truck approaches and stops. A very heavy untidy figure gets out of the car and introduces himself as Daniel Galavaneisky. His wife, he tells, is family from the wife of Omar Alonso from Loncopue. They know about me and my trip and are quite happy to be of assistance. After a short talk he drives on but passes us up and down a few times, like the showers that are coming and going as well. Daan continues imperturbable until we come to a bridge. There he refuses to pass it and while trying to get the troop going, they get entangled in the ropes. Fortunately they allow me to calm them down, but in the process some of my belongings are destroyed. I am not going to replace them, I decided. Less luggage, I like it. At the next bridge, across the fast flowing river Neuquen, I don’t take the risk again and descend from Daan. I take Jil by the head and walk across the bridge. Even here, at the tarmac from RA40, there is hardly traffic. Soon after crossing this bridge again a car stops. This car is loaded with people, all family from Omar and therefor also from Daniel Galavaneisky. We get acquianted and I am told whole heartedly welcome. At 3 o’clock we arrive in Chos Malal, with first a police station with a concrete pool with clear water. Daan is thirsty and goes for it, with the rest of course following. At first they are a bit careful because they don’t trust the concrete structure. Police use this opportunity to ask for my documentation, for real and not like the previous occasion near La Porteña where they were just curious. From the police post I come along a number of pastures with many sprouting trees, then into the mainstreet of Chos Malal with 15.000 inhabitants half the size of Zapala. Halfway the mainstreet I find the tourist information office. It is, of course, closed at 15:30. A local tells me the office will open around now, so I stay there and wait. A car stops and the ugly looking driver signals me. He asks me hundred out until a motordriving policeman (the first I see in Argentina) stops and want to book him for an offence unknown to me: after some arguing the policeman keeps it to a warning. The policeman tells me that the tourist information office will open at 17:00 so I ask him directions to the gendarmerie. That is close by. Chos Malal is one narrow main street, lined with trees and surfaced with tarmac. The side roads are also surfaced, for only one block of houses. Further down those side roads the streets are mud with stones.

At the gendarmerie the horses are parked and tied up to trees at the side of a building. A gendarme walks me to the house of Daniel Galavaneisky. The family occupies two houses. The first house lodges a half sleepy attractive woman and three naked children. In the second house we find Daniel and the rest of the family. We drink coffee, talk organisation and I even get to know a Mauricio Fuentes from the farm I will stop at, when I left Chos Malal. They tell me to be careful where I let my horses drink: the water in this area has a high salt content from which the horses get diarrhea. I will go back to the gendarmerie, unpack the horses and store my belongings. After that, Daniel will come to take me with the horses to their lodging. I return, with my guide, to the gendarmerie where I am taken to the chief: Maldonado. It is all very nice, but it takes hours before I am out again, with the agreement that I will set up in the casino, the mess as a matter of fact. They ask me to unpack the horses where they stand. My luggage will be taken to the casino by pick-up truck. Just when I walk Jil to unpack, a couple arrive from the local television station for an interview. It is already getting dark, so I propose them to film my horses now and do the interview tomorrow at 11 in the casino. When I am just finished with unpacking, Daniel arrives. I ride Daan, unsadled, following the pick-up truck with the other three following us, 8 blocks away to the terrain where they are going to stay. There is a caretaker who lives there, Chano. Chano is horse-tamer, he will look after my herd. Daniel takes me back to the gendarmerie, where everyting takes hours again. They know want me to store the saddles with their own hardware and not in the casino. I carry everything around, because a new guide does not do anything but watch. Then he takes me two blocks away, with my personal stuff. In the casino I get a complete wing for myself: two bedrooms, 5 beds and a bathroom with shower en gas-heater. To get to the kitchen and the community room with television, I have to get out and around, across an inner court. Everything is a bit tatty so I wonder why they made a fuzz about my saddles. Just military ‘rules are rules’ I guess. In the kitchen I get acquainted with the staff. With Jorge, a fat and uninterested civil cook, I arrange to use only the evening meal there. When I am ready arrangeing in my dormitory, I sit near the stove and the television with a liter of beer, writing my diary and awaiting my evening meal. That arrives late: half a chicken, bread and backed potatoes. It is nourishing and probably cheap. When I have eaten it, I go to bed.

16 Molina Campos 1

Molina Campos, producer of many gaucho related paintings.

Tuesday, 7th September. I slept reasonable, hearing many disturbing noises. I am early, enjoy a good shower. I have my own breakfast in the yet closed kitchen, which opens usually at half past ten. I make maté and use the ground maize with warm powdermilk and no sugar. All sorts of people come to talk. My appointment at 10:30 does not arrive, so I leave for the tourist information office, where they help me with all I ask enthousiastically. Two reporters arrive, one for the national radio and the other for the local newspaper ‘La mañana del sur’. For e-mail the neighbour is called. With a bag full of documentation I go see that neighbour an hour later. He is just starting his computer when the electricity gets down. Nobody is surprised with that. I leave and go to Daniel, where I drink coffee and am told that my horses are in good shape.From there I go ask around for a map of Mendoza, which I don’t find. From the veteranarian I bought some new headsets, slings and rings. Then back to the e-mail shop, where I print messages worth $25. After that I picked up my photo’s and gave them a title. I made an appointment for the repair of my saddle bags. In the casino I had dinner. Today I walked a lot, waited a lot and had a relaxed day. It was a cold day with an open sky.

18 gaucho

Wednesday, 8th September. It is again nice weather with an open sky and low air temperature. I had a quiet breakfast with cheese and trigo from Rahueco. At half past nine I am at the leather workshop, but the shoe maker is not present. I have to explain what I want, to his mother, quite a clever woman but a terrible chatterbox. Back in the casino the television crew arrives half an hour late. The lady interviewing sits next to me, gets some smoke from my cigaret in her nose and bursts into a coughing frenzy for 15 minutes. After that she asks me all sorts and they film. The interview will be on, on Thurday evening and Saturday afternoon on a local network. After the interview, I go to Daniel and with Daniel to the veteranarian to buy two types of food for my horses, ‘avena’ and ‘balanceado’. It is fun there, with the vet: telling stories and jokes. Next we bring the food to the ‘chacra’ and I feed the horses an extra meal, but they are clearly well fed: the eat a bit but not all, clearly not hungry. Back in town I go to a small restaurant and order some food. Just when I get it in front of me, an older well dressed man appears and comes straight to me. He gives me his business card stating he is Eberhardt Ruperto Gessler Panten, tourist guide.

17 Chos Malal busines kaartje 8 sept

He has been looking for me everywhere and now accidently walks into me. He heard of me from the two guys who were checking the Rahueco farm on Sunday. When he had heard them he wanted to see me, because he organises adventurous holidays. We talk German. He is 62 years old, born in Germany and grown up in Argentina. I don’t say it but I know he must be a descendent of a German who fled Germany at the end of the 2nd world war. He studied to be an electromechanical engineer, but there is not much work in Argentina in this trade so he shifted to tourism. Now he exploits 20 horses for adventurous tours. It was fun and also interesting to hear from him. At the end of our talking, I tell him my concern about what to do with my horses at the end of my journey. He becomes very enthousiastic and garantees me that he will pick up my horses from where ever I will when I finish my trip. He will take care of them as long as he can, considering his age. I, or any of my acquaintences who take it upon them to go to him, will then be allowed to use them unlimited. To organise that, I only have to let him know, twenty days in advance, where he can pick up my horses. After this interesting meeting, I dumped my laundry at a laundrette, went to feed and see my horses and sat down for a quiet evening at the television in the casino. Late in the evening I go see the shoe maker, where I see that he is doing the repairs to my equipment as requested.

19-web wk 36 Neuquen


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Week 34-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 26-September 01.

1-1-1-Hollandsche Rading Hollandsche Rading.
After church, alone, I go see my friend Hanke. She is very weak but gets up to make coffee for me. After the exchange of our experiences from the past week, I walk Toets. Toets is behaving unusual, not leaving me further than 20 meters, not even when other dogs are in the neighbourhood. In Michaels garden, the landlord, there is a large amount of grapes, ready to be harvested. From both Hanke and Michael I get a lot of grapes. Later, at home, I separate the grapes from their stems and store them in my freezer for later use. In Eemnes, my daughter in law was just leaving for Leeuwarden with my grandson, to the birthday party of a relative. I had lunch with the oldest son of my daughter in law and watched the Formula 1 race in Belgium. The race was rather dull, but our Dutch hero driver managed to finish in third place.

1-1-2-Resultaat droogte Result of draught.
Monday morning, I got up after a good night sleep, although I am aware of having been busy thinking. I worried over the problems of the world from nowadays. I realize that it should not be necessary to do that, because my conviction that this world is only a temporary one and due to be replaced by a much better live, should give me peace. Fortunately, that feeling overrules all sorrows.
I went to the technical services of the organisation here, to find the address of the caretaker for my living quarters: he is not well. I did get it and sent him a ‘get well card’. In their offices I saw a brand-new wall covering with a plan of the whole terrain. That plan does not show any of the changes that are said to be planned for the near future, which is a relieve for me.

1-1-3-Biefstuk eten Good steak.
On Tuesday I got a visitor, a friend whom I had not seen for a while. She is on sick leave: a burn out from her work with convicts. The apparent impossibility to get these young convicts placed in a very much needed programme of rehabilitation is, for her, a reason to become totally ineffective. That causes so much frustration, that she feels unable to continue her work. We had a lovely day, strolling through the large hall with second/third hand goods in Amersfoort, buying brooms and enjoying a lovely steak at a nearby restaurant.

1-1-4-Sortie 1 Weg der Weeghen.
On Wednesday, I only had a walk to the nearby petrol station, to buy a pouch of tobacco. Discussions and exchange of information at home, took place with a variety of people. Cooking with a neighbours’ girlfriend (the neighbour has just left prison after a 9-year sentence) and talking with another who apparently had been threatened by the same neighbour. Never a dull moment in this house. In the evening I saw PSV play and win, resulting for Holland in now two clubs entering the Champions League.
In the afternoon on Thursday, the local RSCPA rang. They needed some volunteer to take 6 rabbits to the sanctuary in Amsterdam. They were a family of 2-3 days old without a mother dug up during construction work, At the sanctuary, the receiving lady made it very clear: she thinks that there are too many people in the world, causing the necessity to dig up nests of rabbits.


Transported to Bijlmerweide, 6 baby rabbits.
I took my bicycle on Friday and paddled to the Eemplein, to search presents for the baby to be born next week, in Norway. I was lucky, a Xenos shop had 70% price reduction on everything, because the shop had a ‘closing-down sale’. I did not find much there, but at another shop nearby I found something nice and easy to take with me on the trip over to Norway. Also on the Eemplein, I did see a supermarket with exclusively foodstuffs produced fully natural, without detergents. I bought vegetables ready cut for my wok and some fruit, two apples and one pear. For my evening dinner I cooked the vegetables, with a large piece of so called ‘plof’ chicken. The amount cooked is sufficient for three meals, which will take me to the day of departure. On Saturday I don’t cook, because I enlisted for the BBQ at my church.

1-1-7-BBQ Bergkerk BBQ garden.

That BBQ was at the end of the afternoon, a pleasant occasion in lovely weather. There were not many people, something like 20 persons. I was introduced to a number of them and had enough to talk about, meanwhile eating good food and drinking some red wine.
It has been a busy week.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 26-September 01.
Gérard showed me lots of pictures in his camper. After that I went to my ‘ladies’ and had a quiet evening. The day has been exciting and laborious, unforgettable. Julia gave me snow boots, nice warm and dry, for tomorrow.
xxx1 Nieuwe horizonnen New horizons.
Thursday, 26th of August. Caviahue. Beautiful weather for a day of ski.
After a quiet breakfast, I went to the tourist information office. Veronica, the information lady, rang to ask me to come. The provincial news paper ‘Rio Negro’ asked for information, so I served them. Then I go to see Gérard. He is in distress, because he suffers from a sore swollen knee. He is unable to go skiing. I have to go it alone. I take a taxi to the ski slope. At the foot of it, there is a large and well-equipped hotel with an excellent café and a shop where you can hire equipment. I hired the necessary things and a ski-pass for the afternoon. A ‘first-aid’ hut is present and also a place where you can hire a trip with a dogs-sledge. All the ski-lifts are in use.

1-26-8 Caviahue lake met hotel Lake Caviahue and Araucaria trees.

There are just enough customers around, to make it a pleasant place to be. The chair-lift of 600 meters, goes straight through the Araucaria primeval forest. At the high end of one of the lifts, school children are playing. The slopes are easy and the snow is fabulous. I go up and down a number of times. Going ‘off piste’ is no problem when you don’t mind ending face down in the snow from an unspotted bump or hollow. Halfway my activities, I sit at the terrace of the café and eat an excellent Wiener schnitzel with salad, onion, tomato, red beet and a soft drink. After this lunch, I go up as high as I can. From there, there is no slope marked so you go through virgin snow with a terrific view at Lake Caviahue, the primeval Aruacaria forest and surprising slopes. The only, but roaring sound comes from the nearby geyser.


Ski slopes and customers.

g Gérard visits and I tell him my adventures. He is still in distress, because of his knee.
Friday, 27th of August. Caviahue. Cold and wet. I did not sleep very well, possibly due to drinking to much bad wine. At 12 o’clock I meet Gérard and he want to go skiing. We take a taxi to the lifts. The snow today is frozen solid. Gérard is a much better skier than I am, he has to wait for me. We come past the geyser, with its 30-meter diameter where the steam comes roaring out with a pressure probably as high as 500 bar. It scares me, because it is like going through a funnel.


Virgin territory.

I did not want to end up in that roaring hole and it required a lot of my guts. It starts snowing and it is very cold at first, but later the snow becomes wet and that makes us stop for today. It was, no matter the scare at the geyser, a pleasant day. Gérard knows everybody and he introduces me. We return by taxi to his home where we drink coffee with a liqueur. He tells me about circumstances in the three northern provinces, where I will end up later. In the afternoon I take a nap. The evening is quiet, discussing all sorts of issues with Julia and Cecilia.


Julia, Cecilia and her dog.

Saturday, 28th of August. Julia writes me some in Spanish, during preparing torta fritta for me. All goes fresh and warm in a big bag for me. After a warm farewell, I walk through the sun to the ready bus. I just have time to buy a lot of ‘Turron’, bars of hard nougat with nuts. I eat that when travelling, Jil is sometimes stealing it from me taking it even out of an inside pocket of my suit. The bus trip to Loncopue gives me spectacular views of the country, mountains with snow on tops and slopes, later through valleys with lots of water and a very strange wall of extremely freakish rocks in the middle of the plain. In Loncopue I buy foodstuffs and a coffee-liqueur for Liliane at El Condor. I go there by taxi, hand over the liqueur, am welcomed with hugs and kisses, put my belongings in my room and go join Carlos and Pablo on an inspection tour. First, we go north, via the road. Just when we arrive at their land, another car enters. They know the car to be from a policeman from Loncopue. He has permission to enter. Apparently, they go fishing (outside the season, I think?) and I ask carefully ‘and hunting’? Carlos says that they did not agree on hunting, but they like that too. Pablo keeps still. Later, when he has probably forgotten my remark, he tells me that the pigs and piglets residing here, probably worth approximately $10.000, are wild. Visitors, like the policeman, get a key from the gate and then they can easily reach the banks of the river. We enter the land high at the plain, across an extremely rough path. After a few kilometres we leave the car behind and climb up a hillside. Up the hill we arrive at a canal. There are many of these canals. This one has a length of 8 kilometres and was dug with dynamite and by hand around the year 1930. These canals are cleaned every year, by hand, to avoid damage to the canal walls, causing loss of water. This canal is dry and we look for the cause. The position of the leak is easily found: a few large puddles and wet places in the slope. The location in the canal shows some black plastic sheet sticking through the cement, from an earlier repair trial. I suggest to apply a cladding with corrugated steel and they seem to like the idea. An often-used method locally is to apply cement bentonite. According to me the leakage is too big for that and will not last long. During our walk, we come across the nest of a wild pig. Five piglets are free ranging but there is no mother to be seen, and that is good for her because the shotguns have been prepared to fire. These pigs are detrimental for the canals, because they damage the walls through their rooting for food. On our return we see one of their gauchos. He changes his course and they talk about his observations: apart from the policeman with his car, there seem to be 2 cyclists. At the edge of the high plain, we stay and watch down into the river valley. We spot many pigs and many tracks of pigs of all sizes, holes from the TucuTucu, a large buzzerd (Aquila Morria) and a herd of calves they bought from Mercedes, where I stayed two weeks ago. It was a very interesting afternoon, no less due to the varying flora and many different geological formations often perforated by gas, from volcanic activities. Back in the farm we enjoy torta fritta, gancia, empanadas, whisky and wine. We talk, discuss. Another couple appears and so it becomes a pleasant lively evening. This farm is situated at a height of +1200 meters above sea level. Pablo is itching and when he spots some dogs fleas in the abundant hair over his body, they grab Gaucho, the brown Doberman pincher and treat him with a large sprayer with anti-flea solution: Gaucho is not pleased. About life on this farm, one could write a book, easily. When I go to my room around 23:00 it is nice and comfortably warm. My bed is there the way I left it on Tuesday.
Sunday, 29th of August. Just after 9 I am out, in the sun. My four companions stand in the meadow, watching at me. Pablo and his family are still asleep, but father Carlos is out, starts the car. He invites me for mate and after that I join him into the car. He drives to Loncopué at first, where everything is still dead silent. We drive on, past the place where the landslide was, past Santa Theresita, past Juan Carlos Destefanis and past the soft drink factory. We end up in Huarenchenque. We enter a well-maintained terrain. Inside the building we meet a joyful female gaucho and an electrician with his son. They are placing and installing a new radio. We drink mate. This joint is also from Carlos. On the way back, in Loncopué, Carlos copies the sheets with characteristics of Criolla. They only apply for Jil, the one and only Criollo in my herd. The three others are mixtures. At the bakery he buys large quantities of cakes and cookies. It is raining all day. At 13:00 the radio at the other settlement is working perfectly well. I have a lovely siesta after dinner from spaghetti, meats, bread and wine. The chief from the gendarmerie, Pablo Eduardo Morales, comes to visit, with his wife and little daughter, a niece playmate for Aluminé. The chief is madly enthusiastic about my trip, asks me a hundred questions and even return for a while to Loncopue, to pick up some information for me, like from his family in Chos Malal where I will arrive later. We have diner together, meanwhile talking about corruption, politics, unemployment, ways to change, especially education and, for the farmers in these remote areas, ways of communication. With enthusiasm we discuss the possibilities to develop tourism here. It is really big fun with the women joining in as well. My horses did find their way into another meadow, which is no problem because Pablo will have them available tomorrow morning, for my departure. It was a lovely day.
Monday, 30th of August, 94th travel day. My horses are awaiting me in the coral. The sun shines and there are no dark clouds in the sky. I drink mate with Pablo and Liliane. Then I go to work. First, I get Daan, brush him, saddle him and feed him. After that I get Jut, then Jil and finally Nora. It is nice to see how they dislike it, being separated. They show it with a lot of whinnying. Around 11, I am ready and dressed in rain suit. I make a family picture, without Carlos because he is already away for an hour. Aluminé hugs me compassionately.

9-29-8 El Condor met Pablo, Liliane en Aluminé Pablo, Liliane and Aluminé.
The tarmac stops and from here to close to Chos Malal, the road is just dirt packed, gravel and earth. There is only very few traffic. Water is readily available everywhere while the roadsides vary a lot, from totally barren with volcanic debris to soaking swampy grassland or sandy with prickly tough bushland. The road is constantly rolling. In any case, it is primarily green country littered with gullies, many cows and surrounded by snow capped mountaintops and high plains. After an hour riding, Pablo comes from behind in the pick-up truck, to check if everything is alright. Not much later, when he is just left, a jeep stops. That is Walter, the husband of Mercedes, met in La Porteña. They lost my where a bouts: people are keeping an eye on me, so much is clear. With a large smile he produces the map I had lost in Zapala and that is a relieve because this one is a lot better than the one I am using now. Between El Condor and my next stop, Pino Andino, there is no habitation what so ever. Jil is the only one who is not going to well, I have no idea why not. But we proceed very well and soon enough I see the farm, Pino Andino, in the distance. I seem to remember that Andrès, in Zapala, mentioned this farm. I enter the country side. The first group of trees does not hide any building, but two gauchos riding away from me. One of them returns, attracting my attention. This is a somewhat older and good-looking man with a beautiful poncho. He tells me, that the farmhouse is 6 kilometres further up the land. That is pretty far. On the other side of the road however, there is a settlement close to the road. There is a gaucho and for me a better option, so I return. The settlement lays all the way down in the valley, along the river Pino. It is a very modern but uninhabited house. I see nor hear dogs, but a large white horse and an axe ready for use. On the back I find a door and through the windows I see that there is someone living here. All is firmly locked, but I decide to unsaddle my horses. It is still early, so I suppose that the gaucho is at work. The white horse approaches curious but careful. I put all my luggage at the doorstep and leave my horses walk free. After half an hour, the white horse suddenly sprints away, through the river. Ten minutes later my horses all of a sudden take off as well, in full gallop through the river: no hesitation what so ever: I love the sight of it. I go take a look where they went: not far, because the terrain, lushly filled with trees and juicy grass is very well fenced off. I see that Jil lost a 10-meter rope. I start looking for it and while doing so, concentrated, a dog appears and not much later I nearly bump into my host who, dead silent and dark, sits on his horse looking at me. He is a gentle, friendly young gaucho. Staying with him is perfectly alright. His living is something different again: dark, no electricity, barren but clean, sealed and dry. The kitchen, also barren with only a kitchen sink unit with cold and hot (dependant upon the heater) water. The heater is of the usual Istallart type, producing soon after lighting a lot of heat. I get the storage room to settle, where I will sleep on the floor. There is a fully equipped bathroom (don’t mention the iron wiring applied everywhere to hold things together) and the bedroom of my host. He chops wood, admires my horses (his are not so tame) and after the maté, continues with the work on a cow’s skin. That skin was afloat in the water of the river and now he is scraping the surface. When all the meat and fat remains are scraped off, he produces leather for slings and straps. It is tedious work, time consuming but time is free here. When night falls, he comes inside where I, in the meantime, installed my battery with a lightbulb. With maté we consume the cakes and cookies from Liliane. At 21:00 the gaucho heats a pan with soup, water with Canelones and some onion. Together with torta fritta quite a minimalistic meal. Soon after that meal, we go to bed.
Tuesday, 31st of August, 95th travel day. I slept on a hard stone floor, but slept well. I have been awake a couple of times, because of the two shepherd dogs barking. They kept the door free of horses and my horses are going everywhere, especially always looking for me. At 3 o’clock I was up for a pee and saw all four of them walking past. I am ready to go again at 8:15 without rain coat but with a scarf because there blows a very cold wind. The scenery is fascinating, a rolling landscape surrounded by snow covered plains and the 2500m high Cordillera de Mandoleque. We pass the river Agrio and many more, smaller streams. Nora always hesitates a short moment but then crosses the bridges without problems. We also cross a stream where the horses get their bellies wet, but also that goes without any complaints. The first stretch is uninhabited, with after two hours of riding a shed far away in the land. For some time, I have seen an antenna and around 14:00 we are there. At the foot of the antenna there is a small building with only well locked doors. I stop here for a while, with the possibility to sit protected from the constant hard wind. Soon after the restart we pass through a wall of hills into a valley. Still rather far away I see many cows uncontained walking across the road, horses, meadows full with geese, ducks and other wading birds. Soon I also see the farm called ‘3 de Fierro’, after a notorious regiment of cavalry. This regiment used exclusively white Criollo horses, to let the Indians know with whom they were dealing. At the farm they are taming horses but they stop that for a while, to drink maté with me. I don’t feel well; my eye sight gets unclear and I am developing a headache. I have to be careful and maybe I have to eat more or better. The weather is nice now, only few winds and a somewhat watery sun. The air temperature is low. On the basis of my map, I know that I am not far away from the farm owed by Martin Camps, Las Vertientes. I spotted the farm already: many trees, fir trees, green and orderly. Riding onto the grounds we are accompanied by a large group of green and yellow noisy parakeets, nice birds. This farm looks very well maintained. I parked my horses and walked into the direction of a house where I see a plume of smoke. An Indian woman comes up to me. She is informed about my possible arrival. I get tea with bread. She talks and laughs. I write a letter for Martin, because he went to Holland indeed (to Venray). We travel on, to El Bosque. I see that farm soon enough, totally different from Las Vertientes: threadbare, worn and barely painted, Argentine. A world of difference. At the roadside there is a shed with laundry on a line. I ask there if this is El Bosque and yes, it is. When I come walking back from the shed, Walter arrives in his Jeep. He was on his way to Loncopue, but reviews his plans because he expects me to stay also tomorrow. I had not planned that, but since I feel a bit weak and he has some ideas about the packing of my luggage, I decide to stay. So we follow him. To reach the farm we have to cross a deep stream. My animals do it without hesitation. Walter provides the horses with good food. They are housed in a corral with a large shed where they can rest under cover and protected from the cold wind. I am given an apartment with two beds, wood fired stove and bathroom with a tub. Hot water should be available. All evening we discuss all sorts of subjects. At 22:30 I go to bed.
Wednesday 1st September. I wake up at 2:30 from storm and heavy rain. The light goes off. I hear a car and see its lights. I went out to have a look around. It is bitterly cold. Back to sleep and awake at 8 o’clock. Walter is busy outdoor. I have a bit of breakfast and after that I go write my diary in a pleasant warm living room with gas stove. Later, in Walters’ office, he tells me stories about the family with pictures from the year 1913 and prints of Molinos Campos drawings.

xxx2 FeestParty time.

The interior of the house is simple but efficient. The external walls are at least 60cm thick. That should give sufficient insulation, but there are many windows and doors with large surfaces of single glass, so it often feels uncomfortably cold at places. The ceilings are from very nice timber laths. Flooring is with red unglazed tiles mostly, but otherwise again timber laths. The weather today is changeable with often North-Westerly stormy winds and ice-cold showers.


At 11 I get my horses out of the coral and put them into a large meadow with plenty water and grass. Most of the time I can see them, quietly grazing as a group. When one of Walter’s horses approaches them, it is exciting to see how they behave, working out who is leading: heads and tales high up galloping, kicking and trying to bite. Walter produces a nice meal, simple, with rice and meat. He does not have bread because he does not eat that: he eats crackers only. In the afternoon he and his gaucho, Toto, busy themselves completely reorganising the decks for Jil. I have to make it very clear to them, that they have to organise it in a manner protecting the still sore spot where the wound on his back was. When they are done, the result looks a bit tatty, but their intention was good. Walter shows me all the kitchen ware, because he is leaving to another part of his lands. I stay behind, alone in the big house. I do some work on the pack-saddle and after that I take a relaxing chair in front of the television set, with a beautiful view at the snow-capped mountain range, the meadow with my horses in front and the fast-changing sky, sometimes a splendid blue and then a poisonous black, threatening grey. After the news on tv, I take to cooking; rice and meat. I prepared sufficient to have a good warm breakfast tomorrow morning. I completed the meal with two Kiwi’s and a pear. After my dinner I got lazy and watched further on television what happened in the world, on CNN and on Deutsche Welle. At 22:30 I went to bed, listening to the Dutch World Broadcast. Outside it is now dry and calm.

xx-web wk 35 Neuquen


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Week 34-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 19-25.

01-Station Amersfoort Railway station Amersfoort.
The Sunday passed as usual. I picked up my friend from the railway station in Amersfoort, drank coffee with her and continued to Eemnes. Back at home I watched some extraordinary achievements: swimming the eleven cities and winning a tennis tournament.

02-Zusterflat zorgcentrum Lichtenberg Renovation apartment building Lichtenberg.
On Monday I had Toets here for the day. She has been very busy hunting. My friend came back from hospital with a variety of problems to solve.

03 Boodschappen Leusderweg (2) Shopping Leusderweg.
On Tuesday I was busy copying the pictures from my phone, to my computer. It worked out to be very easy, with the same lead I use for my camera. One of the young women living here, told me about her first day at a dog training and walking firm. They pick up dogs, 3 hours, walk 1 hour, and take the dogs back, again 3 hours. It sounds very inefficient.

04-AH Soestdijk Shopping Soestdijk.
The other days of the week, I did not do much more then cooking, shopping and writing.

05-bouw aktiviteiten Vondellaan (3) Construction site Vondellaan.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 19-25.
The gaucho mentions that somewhere there were 4000 casualties form a natural disaster. The fire does not work well, the chimney does not draw and this means that in no time my shelter is full of smoke, no matter the many ventilation holes. The oil lamp is not going properly either. Fortunately, my own inspection lamp works properly. At 22:15 I go to bed and switch my radio on, but I don’t get any signal. So, I go to bed.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, 19th August, 92nd travel day. I slept enough, I think, but a bit strange. I was aware of the rain clanging at the roof constantly. And my neck has a twist because the bed spiral is sagging by approximately 30 centimetres. It feels like having slept in a hammock. I feel the urgent need to pee, so open the door and pee: it is still raining so I get wet, a little. I fire the heater after cleaning. It goes like a flash, uses wood much and fast but heats very fast. After having eaten the rest of my meal from yesterday, I prepare mate. After that I dress, everything by the light of my own inspection lamp, which is too small for these two large spaces. I feel a bit dirty. Water to wash is in the creamery next door, but at the moment there is no electricity. I parked the horses next to my door and packed, without haste. Soon enough I get company from one of the gaucho’s, wearing a poncho and a very large hat, their usual dress for this type of weather. During saddling there are three gaucho’s and Manuel, watching and commenting on all I do and use. The first gaucho takes his horse, also present here, and starts to chat. They really study everything and are impressed with my undertaking. One of them comes with us, to open and close gates. The Doberman pincher stays with me, no matter my efforts to make him stay at the farm. Immediately behind the last gate, there is a bridge across the now swollen river. Daan refuses to set one foot into the direction of the bridge. One of the gauchos comes running our way and together we manage, walking with Jil in front, to cross the bridge with the whole lot. Daan is clearly not used to these circumstances. He is not bothered by traffic on the road, but when approaching large white painted stones or (election) slogans painted onto the tarmac, Daan stands still and is extremely reluctant to carry on. It causes fairly regularly difficult situations, requiring me to descend and walk with Jil and Nora up front. With four horses that is quite a job, interesting for onlookers, who find it mighty interesting and sometimes help, by going behind the lot clicking their tongue. Daan and to a lesser degree also Jut, must get used to unfamiliar situations, like real tourists: very much like Jil at the start of my trip. The rain does not bother me. When I was packing, they all were trembling from cold at bit, but that passed away fast enough. Work is good for them. When there are no obstructions, Daan is going like a flash, I often have to calm him down. He really is a very agreeable horse and he likes it a lot, being with us. He always begins in a galop. Halfway Loncopué, the road is covered in mud. Enormous amounts of water with soil, are razing down the slopes of this mountain road. A shovel is busying to keep a path open for the traffic. The shovel driver certainly looks stressed. He looks unfit to deal with this situation. Strange enough, Daan is going through this mud stream without hesitation. All around I spot gaucho’s in their poncho’s and hats: they watch me with curiosity. Coming nearer to Loncopué it is busy with people transporting fire-wood. On horses, in hand- and bicycle carts, and horse drawn carts. Just before the village, there is bridge and again Daan does not want to go over it. I get help from a gaucho carrying a large amount of fire wood in front of him on his horse. Immediately after the bridge, the village begins, with to the left a restaurant and lodge. The road is, on both sides, lined with a deep wide gutter. To pass that gutter, at every building, you have to pass across a concrete slab. I park my herd and enter the restaurant, hungry. The restaurant does not offer accommodation, but their food is good. The restaurant is also the local bus station. Within 3 quarters of an hour, the bus for Zapala will depart, so there are a lot of people in the restaurant, all watching me: I look odd, of course, with my shoes covered in cows’ skin, my green rain suit, a Sahara cap and bronzed head with grey short shaved hair. I get to hear why the electricity is out of order. The line is broken in Huarenchenque across the farmland of a recalcitrant farmer. The farmer does not allow the repair crews on his land, leaving 10.000 people without electricity. People suppose that he first has to get rid of some illegal constructions or businesses. After the departure of the bus from the restaurant, I leave as well. I try anyway, but my herd refuses now to cross the concrete slab over the gully. Even with the help of bystanders, it is difficult to move them over. I do have a contact here, got that from Carlos in Zapala. Two guys on bikes guide me to him: Omar. Getting there is a bit difficult, because in the main street, there are cattle grids at every crossing, probably to avoid cattle going through. The first two grids I pass via the walkway, but at the third one Nora nearly breaks a leg. The solution is, to go via the backstreets. At Omar’s home I park my horses and find Omar, just having lunch. He appears to know about me and is open and friendly. He, his son and a friend of his son are helping out. In his pick-up truck we go around to find a place for my horses and for me. We find a farm where I can bring the horses and a hotel called Piré Rayen meaning snow flower in Mapuche language. Back at Omar’s home we unsaddle and unpack the horses and put everything in the pick-up. Unsaddled I ride Daan until a piece of broken up road. After that I ride Jil, also without saddle. I see that his wound is 50% smaller with nicely closed sides, but still slightly inflamed. Watching Jil’s ears I get the impression that Jil is glad to have someone riding him again. Without problems we ride the main street again, passing the cattle grids and the bridge and turn to the right, to farm Santa Izabel, where we are awaited by 6 men. We have to go through a large pool, then a shallow gully with a cattle grid beside it. They all help, advise. Jil however decides to do it his way, jumps across the cattle grid and walks on jaunty. The rest follows, half jumping, half going through the gully. They are lead into a large meadow where they immediately investigative go around. In a barn, two gauchos are busy grinding maize for the cows. During unpacking at Omar’s place, I have noticed that I missed my tent. With the truck we drive the way back to where I started from this morning. Near the bridge which I passed with a lot of effort, I find the tent at the road side: am I lucky again. On the way back to Loncopué we now see two bulldozers busy clearing the road. Omar tells me that the amount of rain they had, is not common, so they see it as a small natural disaster, a lot smaller than the earthquake in Turkey, where so many people died. We drive to the hotel, where I am the first and only guest since April. The hotel has much problems with this amount of rain, leakage everywhere. They are not the only ones. My saddle bags are taken to someone who will repair them. Now everything is taken care of. Omar, like Carlos in Zapala, is a veterinarian specialised in artificial insemination. He shows me his laboratory and office, straight opposite the hotel. I leave him there and go my way. First, I buy grains for my horses and take that, by taxi, to the farm. Then back to the hotel. Loncopué is a village with only 3.500 inhabitants.

Loncopue Local Banner.

The main road does not go through it, but runs along it: much safer and quieter. In the hotel they place a lit oil burner in my room, so the room is now comfortably warm, but it stinks. Omar gave me a gas heater, maté drinking kit and yerba mate. I stayed in my room during the evening and had a lovely warm shower. There is nothing else to do in the hotel. They only provided me with a room. Boring, but the bed is good!
Friday, 20th August. I am awake early and dress in my spare cloth. Breakfast with mate. I am walking through the village all day, asking and searching. Most people are greeting with a big smile. Primarily I am searching for a map of this province to replace the one I have forgotten somewhere. I don’t find a map, not at the petrol station, not at the ‘city hall’ and not at the library. They all agree slightly ashamed, that it is a bit odd. At the library however, the keeper shows me a folder with information about all the provinces of Argentina, with maps of all the provinces. That is very interesting. I am asked to come back later, to the library and when I come, I am given the whole set. I find a needlewoman who agrees to renovate my ski-overall, tomorrow. The overall has many tears, repaired with ironed-on patches: the patches are becoming detached which looks ugly and is no longer efficient either. In a shop they agree to supply my raincoat and ski-overall with press-studs and/or lace-up eyes, because the zippers are no longer working. It is dry today, very cloudy and a bit cold. The hill tops are covered in snow. There is no internet in this village. In the newspaper I read, that the electricity is now out of order for two days: a judge in Zapala is going to sue the recalcitrant farmer. From my radio I get more information about the earth quake in Turkey. At 7 in the evening I go feed my horses. Jil has got rid of his headset. Fortunately, I do find it soon when walking across the meadow. On my way back to the village, the leatherworker approaches me. He was looking for me because he did not manage to get the work for me done as promised. When he hears that I will stay here until Monday, he sighs relieved. Back at the hotel I find a replacement oil stove in front of my room. The woman-boss told me, when I asked, that it is not possible to regulate the burner: just let it go till the oil is finished. When I leave the hotel to find a place to have a meal, I see Omar’s truck in front of his office and enter for a quick chat. That works out differently, because he invites me to his home. His wife is very nice, but does not, as usual, take part in the talking. No women’s lib here. It is a nice evening and I am even allowed to play the piano. We have ‘asado’ (BBQ) from cow meat with baked potato and salad, with excellent red wine. For desert we have half pears (from a tin) with real fresh whipped cream. I walk back to the hotel, totally satisfied, around midnight.
Saturday, 21st of August. I slept badly, maybe due to lack of oxygen in my room because of the oil-heater. I did put the heater in my bathroom. The hotel is not very good: they don’t clean or supply towels. I had planned to stay asleep long and that worked. I got up at 11. After breakfast I go feed my horses. The weather is nice, even warm. At the meadow, I only see Jil standing halfway the meadow. He does not react when I whistle. Rattling with the bucket with grains helps, he slowly starts walking my way. And then, all of a sudden, three horse heads come up from the high grass. Apparently Jil was guarding his resting herd. Neatly lined up, they now approach with, as usual, Nora in front. Back at the hotel I eat some and take to bed again. I don’t have much to do today.

17 21-8 voetballen Playing soccer in Loncopue.

Around 3 o’clock I go out and watch children playing soccer. It is pleasant, fanatical and indifferent boys and one girl. Nearly real, with an arbiter and ‘lots’ of onlookers, half goals, no grass but earth and stones. They don’t play lesser for it. The public, mostly older brothers and a lot of sisters are having fun around the playground. At 4 I go to the shop where they are doing the work to replace the zippers. When she is finally ready I take the dresses to the needle worker to repair the many tears. I sit down in a bar where I try to find some one to splice an eye in my rope. I don’t find anybody but I have a lot of pleasant talks, free drinks and a request for an interview on the local radio station. Of course, I am going to do that. In the main street along the gutter lays a dog stretched out. It is dead. Nobody picks it up, they just leave it there to rot away. In the restaurant, annex waiting room for the local bus, I drink coffee and eat a sandwich. People tell me that the river ‘Loncopue’ contains a lot of trout and indeed, I see some youngsters on their way with the right tools for fishing. It is nice weather for it and maybe I give it try myself, tomorrow. I feed the horses late today. As indicated by Omar, I asked the farmer to arrange an antibiotics injection for Jil: it is done, free of charge. On my way back from the farm, I pay a visit to Omar’s office. He is wrestling with his computer and I am able to get him going, because I understand the instructions in English: he does not! Omar invites me to have lunch at his home and join him, afterwards, on a job. I let it depend on my intention to go fishing. Tonight, I eat at a different restaurant: the food is no more than ‘okay’, but the place is warm and they have good soccer on television. Today I saw, for the first time, a female gaucho. Today the idea popped up, to go skiing in Caviahue, next week. Caviahue is 60 kilometres away from here, with new good installations and famous for its thermal baths. It sounds interesting. I go to bed fairly early. A fresh oil-heater stands for my door at the hotel, again.


Plans for next week: Caviahue and Copahue.
Sunday, 22nd of August. The sky is densely clouded and it is ‘water cold’. No good fishing weathers. I feed the horses pair by pair: Jil with Nora and Jut with Daan. Daan is the easiest to approach with Nora as next, but Nora is inconstant so I must stay attentive. Jil is always suspicious but reliable and I am not sure about Jut yet. Jut tends to shift his but every now and then into the wrong direction. The dead dog is still laying there, in dead silent street. A man is painting the façade of his eatery. Winter is proceeding and within 6 weeks from now, the tourists will appear again. Now there are tourist, during the week-ends, razing through on their way to a couple of days skiing or returning home. Back in the hotel I sorted out my fishing gear. The line-winder is bent. I get sleepy and fall asleep for an hour. Back in the street I again watch the youngsters playing their soccer game. Then I go to the shop, where I think to have left my camera. The shop is closed. Graciela, the needle women, is ready with the repair of my ski suit. She does not want payment for her work. At 12:45 I go to Omar. His wife, Suzanne, is teacher at the local primary school. Daughter Vanessa (17) will go study next year to become a vet as well as is son Esteban (11) some years later. Omar is, as said, primarily interested in genetics. I asked him about the animal I saw swimming past me some days ago. Omar supposes it must have been a beaver rat. (Nutria). We talk about economy, soccer, rural life, travelling: the whole family joins in. Suzanne produces a dish with home made spaghetti, tasty sauce and meat. And not to forget: good wine. Extraordinary. After dinner Omar draws me a travel plan for the coming weeks and rings some people, to introduce me before hand, up to Chos Malal. We drink maté and then I must leave fast, because it is already 6 o’clock. At the repair shop for my saddle bags there is nobody answering, but just walking away from the door, his daughter arrives and she takes me indoor. We find the saddle bags and I see a bit of a bungle but it might work. The cost is $20, not too much. They call me a cab, which is arriving fast. The name of the driver seems to be ‘Vega’ and he suggests that he has family working at the farm of Martin Camps. I go back to the shop where I suppose to have left my camera and find it there indeed. Then I return to my hotel, to drop all the things I have with me now: saddle bags, ski-overall, horse deck (gift from Omar) and camera. From there to my horses: they are awaiting me. I stay with them when they eat, in order to make sure that Daan gets his share. After that I walk back to the hotel, pass the painting job: finished and looking good with a new name as well. At the bank I try to get money from the ATM but that fails. I don’t like that, because after paying the hotel I have only $100 left. I started organising my luggage, got sleepy, slept a while, woke up again, continued work, eat and write a bit. I worked out the content of 110 gram of Yerba mate: glucose 0,59gr/sacarose 2,77gr/ protein 2,14gr/caffeine 0,85gr/vitamin C 5,11gr/vitamin B1 Tiamina 1,48mgr/ Niacinamide 1,27mgr/vitamin B6 Piridoxine 0,94mgr/calcium 80,9mgr/forfor 45,9mgr/iron 2,2 mgr/magnesium 58,6 mgr/sodium 14,1 mgr/potassium 100,6 mgr. That looks very healthy if I am not mistaken. Through the night I worked on and off, but slept a very good deep sleep during the last stint. At 08:45 I prepare my departure.


Tourist documentation for Caviahue, with Lake Caviahue (Ph3)
Monday, 23rd August, 93rd travel day. At 11:30 I am ready to leave Loncopué. I go to the bank to get some money. I am told that the ATM is working now, but it does the same as yesterday: a lot of noise, but no money. The bank manager watches: it does not help. He goes ringing and that takes ‘hours’. There are by now more annoyed customers. Two employees and two guards are involved in managing the crowd now. At last they provide me in the ‘old fashioned’ way with the $500 I wanted to get. At 12:30 I am with my horses, feeding. Still unsaddled, I get them in line and try to get across a ditch. Nora refuses, so I have gotten them over one by one. They are clearly not yet ready to comply, so I do have a lot of work. I mount Nora and oh wonder, she passes through a large pond, through the gate and over the bridge. At the first corner of the street, they are defiant again. After a lot of hassle, we arrive at the hotel where I park and start packing under considerable public attention. I finally manage to get underway at 3 o’clock. They need little time to get the grips again and then we go smooth. Nora makes some unexpected moves side wards while Jut tries to get in front again. We drive through a wide valley with only meadows. My goal for today was only 5 kilometres away and soon I see it: Estancia El Condor. A large horse with irons walks up with u, to the gate of the farm. By now it is raining, but there is no wind. I am awaited by Carlos and Pablo who help me immediately. We are welcome. I get a room in the farm house, a room with two bunk beds, neat heating and a bathroom. Much better than in the hotel in Loncopué. I write my diary in the living room, where they feed me Lemon Merinque, bread with butter and ‘dulce de leche’. Maté, of course. They are impressed by my journey and the idea to go skiing for a couple of days excites them. My belongings and horses are safe here and departure from here at a later date is much easier as departing from Loncopué. Pablo is the owner of the farm, married to Liliane, with a 5-year-old daughter (Aluminé) grandfather Carlos and a grandmother.
They are of Italian origin, pleasant people with, like many farmers here, economical problems. The prices for which they can sell their produce are going down, while the costs are rising and this is going on since a long time. We talk about horses primarily. Here, they are using only thoroughbred Criollas, so I ask what the characteristics are. That question leads to some comical discussions and even a fact where I know better, i.e. the height at the withers. Pablo does have a book, somewhere, with the characteristics. He will look that up for me. When I make my way, at 21 o’clock to go to my room to cook, I am invited to stay for dinner with the family. It is an animated dinner, with meat, salads, bread, butter, good red wine and fruit. At 23 I go to my room, the gas heater is on, the temperature is nice and there is sufficient air in the room. I fall a sleep fast: much better than in the hotel.


Documentation Copahue and Caviahue. 
Tuesday, 24th August. I slept like a log and woke at half past seven I feel well rested, stayed in bed for a while, took a lovely hot and fast shower. I made my own breakfast, with yoghurt and bread with salami. Next, I went to feed my horses. I went there with some grain: they approach all four, Nora, Jut, Daan and Jil as usual nowadays, carefully as the last one. I joined Pablo and his wife Liliane for mate. With the 4wheel drive we go to a coral where a gaucho arrives with two cows. Pablo does have the best country land in this area, but even then, it requires 6 to 7 hectares for each cow. He has 12000 hectares of land. Back at his house, he comes up with the book about the Criollo particulars and he promises to make me a copy. By radiophone he calls Liliane’s father, the taxi driver, who takes me to the bus station in Loncopué. The bus carries one other passenger who is leaving the bus at the next stop, the hospital. The road is winding and climbing through a landscape varying from meadow to inhospitable piles of stone in extreme ragged shapes. Deep down, a river races through a more or less green valley. A bit further up the road, everything becomes white from mist and then, all of a sudden, we come across Lago Caviahue, silent, big. Everywhere are waterways through the snow. There is an abundance of enormous single rocks. There is no further traffic. Some small farm huts, with a fence around them, appear in the snow. Silence, cold and white, no animals. We arrive in Caviahue at the petrol station. We drink coffee and eat some sweet breads. The bus returns to Loncopué. When the rush from the bus is passed, I ask directions to something like a ‘tourist’ representative. I am sent to the ‘city hall’ at the entrance to the village. Some pretty women are working there. One of them, Veronica, helps me enthusiastically. She explains everything very well, hands me documentation and gives me the address where I will find lodging. I walk up to the given address, in the sunshine, through the snow. The lodge is driven by a blonde woman (Julia, 58) and an equally blonde daughter (Cecilia, 31). Cecilia runs a pharmacy from here. The room I am given is neat, warm, good bed, full board: $25! It is cheerful and I get all the assistance I need. Caviahue has only 500 inhabitants and that is the population in winter. During week-ends many more people arrive, for skiing. In summer there are tourists from all over the world because this is an interesting remote resort with many virtues, like a volcano, many thermal baths and many antiquities. No, on a weekday, I am the one and only visitor so they pamper me, no less because of my travel story. The ladies get a variety of people together. The first one is a 61y old Pied Noir, Gérard. Frenchmen that came from Algeria after their defeat there, are generally called Pied Noir in France.

19 Gerard Gerard.

Gérard had a rich life there but fled Algeria 36 years ago, came straight to Argentina and started a new life here. We get on well and he takes it upon him to show me around the coming days. He proposes to hire ski equipment and a snow scooter to go 18 kilometres uphill to Copahue. It sounds exciting.

18 ik bij richtingbord in de sneeuw Not really a turn in the road visible.

The road to Copahue cannot be covered by any other way of transportation, due to enormous amounts of snow. The next visitors are an engineer’s couple. The female was in April this year in Petten (Holland) for a 15-day course on windmills. She loved Holland. After that came an elderly gentleman of Italian descent, in particular interested in my view on the province of Santa Cruz and finally the Chief Constable of Police. All very interesting and exciting. Julia is busy ironing and later cooking. Cecilia is at work till 21:00 o’clock. The dogs, a husky with a blue and a brown eye and an undefined little dog, are quiet. We eat at 22: flat white rice with warm bread and a Wiener Schnitzel, washed away with red wine. It is good and sufficient. At 23 I go to bed.


Wednesday, 25th of August. I slept a bit restless and got up at half past seven. The space behind the shower curtain is promising large, but unfortunately it is only useless space. In order to get wet you have to press your body against the wall between the hot- and the cold-water tap. When I am trying to get the television going, Julia appears and produces mate. The weather is splendid, a spotless blue sky. This means that Gérard will probably pick me up to go to Copahue on a snow scooter. After breakfast, I walk towards his house. It is easy to find, because yesterday I saw it already, with a lot of winter sport gear in front of the door. I stumble through the deep snow, climb the stairs and enter the house. The interior is completely in timber, with a view to Lago Caviahue, the source of the river Agrio. About the place I get some detailed information.



The local trees form a small forest of Araucaria trees, unique in the world, apparently. The lake has a Ph of 3 to a Ph of 1 closer to the volcano. The volcano, ‘Copahue’, is active with the top at +3000 meter. Caviahue is located at a height of 1750 meter, with Copahue at a height of 2000 meter. Copahue is situated inside a secondary crater, with all around all sorts of thermal baths. Steam and water escape under pressure from crevices at temperatures from 100 to 200 degrees Centigrade. It comes through all sorts of layers with iron, sulphur etcetera. The volcano Domuyu at 250 kilometres from here, is 4708 meters high. All the volcanos and high peaks are situated at the border with Chile. During the season, the populations are easily doubled in Copahue and Caviahue. The border with Chile is 2 kilometres away from Copahue.
We drink tea from yerba mate. The engineers couple is there, with Gérard. A father and son arrive and get ski’s. They were expecting to be joined by Gérard, but he will take me for a tour. First, we buy a new film for my camera. The scooter is ready, with 5 litre spare fuel at the back. Gérard carries a small ‘first aid’ back pack. The speedometer shows a max. speed of 120 km/h and is, according to Gérard, also capable to do that. We dress warm and take off, exciting, I never ever did something like it. At first it is sometimes a bit difficult, because some paths have been cleared of snow. I experience the scooter as rather instable and I think it is not without danger, because together we have a considerable weight. The scooter is, certainly at the village, a toy for artists in balancing. You are constantly busy shifting your weight in order not to topple over and in order to change direction. For a while we follow a road, but soon there is nothing more that indicates a road, with the exception of a road sign warning for a sharp turn to the right. However: there is nothing but virgin snow. It is 19 kilometres from here to Copahue. Sometimes we go fast with a cold head wind, making your eyes water because I don’t have snow goggles. I am hot from excitement. The area is very active which can easily be seen from the many geysers and sudden snowless spots. After 8 kilometres we arrive at a hotel: totally covered in board to protect it against the weather conditions. The land bubbles, coughs and puffs. There are some awfully derelict stone huts, with around them a strong air of rotten eggs, sulphur. We walk around and through the huts where the thermal baths are, very basic, no luxury what so ever. There is no sign of any form of maintenance, but much heavily corroded iron, steel and aluminium. Everywhere there are holes and puddles with puffing, bubbling and steaming mud. We drive on, regularly nearly toppling over, pass a high-pressure steam pipe and then: we stand at the edge of the crater in which Copahue is built. A ghost town Gérard says; absolute silence. Lazily a flag moves from the Gendarmerie and some steam wrinkles up in the air. Nothing else moves. From most of the buildings, only a small part of the roof can be seen. We go to the gendarmerie, to tell them we are here.

Gendarmerie seccion CopahueGendarmerie.

After that Gérard steers us through the roofs. Coming closer, you see that most of the houses stand inside sort of a snow pit: the houses are heated and that melted the snow immediately next to the walls. The streets are also ‘snow free’. Gérard tells me that the authorities laid out a system of steam pipes underneath the street surfaces, at the cost of $7.000.000. That was, at that time, a lot of money and it seems rather pointless to have that done, because when there is a lot of snow, the people leave town. Gérard shows me the thermal baths. These are renown and special because here they have a variety of types of water where elsewhere in the world, they have usually only one type, or two at the maximum. After that we move through a couple of snow tunnels, to the hotel where we drink coffee. The owner joins us to a second hotel, where they set up a discussion about the accessibility of the village and extension of the ‘season’ for guests. That is not illogical because there are numerous opportunities to keep tourists busy here. The thermal baths are, as can be expected, primarily visited by Germans and Japanese. I give my opinion of course and tell them that they will have to improve on services and the appearance. Nearly always and everywhere it looks badly maintained, especially when you look behind the scenes, for which I often get the opportunity due to my way of travelling. When the coffee, the mate and the discussions are over, Gérard and I carry on. The scooter gets stuck at the end of a ‘steam street’. It requires a lot of pulling and pushing, before we get is free to go again. Gérard now steers straight into the mountains, a fantastic trip to the Chilean border and close to the crater of the volcano.

24 ik bij grenspaal Chili At the Chilean border.

The snow is magnificent, a light blue underneath the virginal white. Must be very ancient snow here. We climb slopes, amphitheatres and planes. The air smells often of sulphur and we come across hotspots without snow and small ponds. We arrive at the point where the steam comes roaring out of the ground: this is the point where the steam pipes to Copahue begin. It is most impressive, the roaring sound of escaping steam. A bit away from it there are some buildings behind fences. From one of the pipes there, the steam escapes with a loud sharp whistle. This appears to be a power station. It has cost a lot of money but never functioned. Why not, I asked: because this is Argentina. We drive on across undisturbed snow to the top of the highest ski lift at 2400 metres and we follow more or less the ski slope down, through the last primeval forest of Araucaria trees, 1200 years old, back to Caviahue. At the ski slopes we see some 10 die-harts’ skiing. Too few says Gérard. I notice that the first ski lift appears to be 100 meters too short, to take the users efficiently to the second one. Gérard agrees. Nearly in Caviahue we meet Julia walking her dogs. At the border of the village, Gérard drops me. Walking back to the lodge, I notice that I have lost my Leatherman multi tool. I ask everybody I see, go back on my steps from this morning. At Gérard’s place, they tell me fortunately, that the man and his son from this morning, did bring it in. Am I lucky, because that tool is an important part of my equipment. Gérard showed me lots of pictures in his camper. After that I went to my ‘ladies’ and had a quiet evening. The day has been exciting and laborious, unforgettable. From Julia I got snow boots, nice warm and dry, for tomorrow.

xx-web wk 34 Neuquen

Progress in green, off Loncopue.

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Week 33-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 12-18.

Quareling Pigeons Quarrelling Pigeons.
Last week on Saturday, the battery of my car was completely empty. Now, this morning, I hope to be able to start the car without problems and that works. I am glad. I picked up my friend from the railway station and we joined the service in the Bergkerk. After church I take her home, where we drink coffee and exchange news. I usually go by the A27, but this highway appears to be closed for maintenance on the fly-overs. At her home, she tells me about the treatments she has to undergo next week in various hospitals. Later, I go to my family in Eemnes and after a chat with my daughter in law, I return to Amersfoort.
This Monday, we enjoy the first rain since long. I love it, nature needs a lot more but for now, it smells nice. A man is busy clearing one of the apartments. I don’t know the fellow, so I approach him. He appears to be an employee from the organisation which places convicted people here, for resocialisation. The youngest placed here are 17 years old.

The monastery Monastery Amersfoort.
On Tuesday I get Toets, the dog from my friend. After her visit to hospital my friend returns to get her lovely dog back. I like having Toets, because she forces me to go out for walks.
On Wednesday I did, apart from a lot of nothing, only computer work. The Thursday worked out as a copy from Wednesday.
On Friday the son of my daughter in law, the youngest from three from a previous marriage, was moving to Leeuwarden. I had offered my help. When my car was loaded with primarily his bed, it was no longer possible to use my mirror. The two matrasses were longer then the cargo hold of my car; they stuck over our heads into the driving cabin. It was a bit difficult driving and I wonder if the police would have allowed me to go on like this. We did arrive in Leeuwarden without being stopped and without problems.

Neat garden Neat garden.

At the home of the sister of my daughter in law, we drank some wine and ate an Indonesian meal. After that we went to the new home of the student; he is going to study ‘history’, to become a teacher.

Leeuwarden Bote van Bolswerdstraat Leeuwaren, Bote van Bolswerdstraat.

We unloaded my car and the car of his mother. After that we walked to the town centre to have a look at an event. In Leeuwarden they have ‘three giants’ from a French theatre company. The largest of the giants is called ‘Diver’.

Leeuwarden event Giant Diver Giant ‘Diver’.

This figure is 11 meters high and walks at speed of 3 kilometres per hour. Further there is a girl, 7 meters high,


Giant girl in pyjama’s, and walking. Her size compared to the ‘dwarfs’.

and a dog, 3,5 meters high.

Leeuwarden event Giant dog Giant dog.

Tonight, we only see the ‘Diver’ at the market place in Leeuwarden, where he is sleeping. It is really impressive. We drink some beer and after that we go our way. I go to the new home of the young men, where we sleep in his tiny room. On Saturday we go to town, watching the giants go through town. When we have seen them, we return home to Eemnes. On our way, we pass Akkrum where we visit a 91y old former landlady. I stayed at her home in Grou, during my work, back in 1996 at the local aqueduct. In Akkrum we use lunch, before carrying on home.

Lunch in Akkrum Akkrum.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 12-18.
Back in town I see Andrès who is busy. I go to bed early because tomorrow I want to start early, again.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, 12th August. I did not sleep well, nervous. I woke up at 3 o’clock, slept again and got up at 8. I had breakfast and left. It is nice weather, not much wind, but it was a freezing night. On my way to the farm I pass a garden where they have left the sprinkler going during the night: all the plants are frozen up resulting in an attractive sculpture. At the farm I start rigging my four horses and at 10:45 I am ready to go. I say goodbye to gaucho Frederico. Andrès arrives in time to take a lot of pictures. The two new horses are clearly not used to travelling together. It cost me a lot of energy to find out, how to organise them. Nora is going very well, while Jut and Daan, both new, want to go faster and overtake us sometimes. Jut is pushing forward but he is also the one trying to get to the bag with oats packed on Daan’s back. Daan is the horse I bought from Pedro. I called him Daan because he is a ‘fast burner’, skinny and extremely energetic, like one of my nephews. The new Jut is the horse I bought from the policeman. Jut is of the same proportions as Jill: muscular and a strong will. Jut plucking at the luggage on Daan’s back is a drag, because everything is getting out of position. Because of his activities, the luggage on Jut’s back is also not staying in place. Otherwise: we travel well, I feel good and am happy to be on the road again. Along the road I spot enormous amounts of fossils; imprints of shells, leaf, wood, fish and small animals, all in stone. In no time you could collect enough to fill a large show cabinet. A car passes, stops and turns. A man and a woman get out and approach me for a chat. They wish me strength and good luck, then go on their way. Just before I reach my goal for today, a car comes up, flashing its lights and stop. An older man gets out and approaches me. He introduces himself: Martin Camps, originating from Deventer, came to Argentina after he lost everything he owed in Congo. I heard of him from Andrès and Martin knows about me travelling from Andrès too. A strong cold wind is blowing and Martin does not wear a coat. A kind friendly woman gets out of the car to bring him his coat. When asked, I tell them my age of 56. They are amazed and their admiration jumps. Martin is on his way to hospital for a scan. In case of a favourable result, they leave next week to stay three months in Holland. They speak Dutch very well and nearly without an accent. Nice people. They invite me to stay at their farm and if need be, they assure me that I will be welcome at the farm of their neighbour as well. I will get there in a couple of days. The Camps farm has a red roof, while the neighbour’s roof is green. I look for my map, but can not find it and that is awkward. After this encounter, we don’t go much further.

Reserves in Neuquen Reserves in Neuquen.

My goal for today is called ‘Paraje los Alacanes’, a community of Mapuche Indians, result of the time with General Roca. At the first shack two men are calling at me from a distance. I don’t know what, but I drive my herd towards them. Two men, one small round woman and two nice very young lads cordially shaking hands. We talk friendly, drinking mate. The younger one of the two men is a clever one. They show me the way to a place where I might stay overnight. After a bit of searching I arrive at a family where they welcome me for the night. First thing, as usual, drinking mate and introduction. After that, unrigging the horses, who go into a very neat paddock with half a bale of hay, which I buy for $10. The boss keeps that food for his sheep, because the country does give insufficient during winter. When that is done, they invite me in, where it is well organised and warm. Out in the open it is vile cold weather with a strong wind. Threatening grey clouds are chasing the sky and people are talking about snow. I don’t hope so, but at nightfall it is already snowing a little bit, when the wind laid down. These people are friendly and hospitable. My horses are cared for, with a shed for cover. I don’t know yet where they are going to get me asleep. The husband of a daughter comes visiting. His profession is working on tarmac roads, so in winter he just keeps busy. With that, just being busy, he bruised some ribs. Again, a friendly person, talkative. When he is gone, we have diner: rice with spices, soup with a little bit of vegetables and pasta. No meat, no matter the fact that they owe 1000 sheep. My host is 64y old and his wife Dominga 57y. At eleven, we go to bed. I get a bed in the ‘master bedroom’ with a working gas burner. Domingo sleeps in another room with a grand-child.

Reserve near Zapala Reserve near Zapala.
Friday, 13th of August. I slept very well. I hear my host but it is silent again, so I doze off again. When I look at my watch a bit later, I see it is 07:30. My host is a bit alarmed by it, because he is used to getting up at 7. I dress, drink maté and eat my own breakfast. Then I feed alfalfa to each of my horses separately. At 9:30 Domingo comes to say goodbye; she is teaching somewhere. I am ready to leave at 11. It is nice weather but the temperature is rather low. Nora is riding very well. The road is quiet and every now and then we pass a shed. The land is good passable, with wide roadsides of soil or stone. Again, I see large amounts of fossils, mostly in hollows in the land. After an hour driving I check saddles, luggage and bridles. I miss the bag with grain. A bag of grain on a horse back behaves like water, so I am not to surprised. Again, one hour later, I check. The saddle cloths have move from underneath the saddles. I have to correct that and watch out for a place to stop, with some grass for the horses. These places are scarce here. A police car stops and the two occupants, both with two large stars on their shoulders, get out, shake hands polite and friendly, ask the usual questions but, of course, they also ask for the documentation of me and my horses. Very well, I answer, just a moment because I was just going to get my horses to that spot, some 30 meters away, where they have some grass. Then I will search for the documentation in my luggage. When I ask them how far away ‘La Porteña’ is, they tell me 10 kilometres, they don’t press for documentation, wish me all the best and leave. After this event, we carry on as well, but now Jil does not want to move. I change the position of each of them and now we are going again, until Jut starts to fool around. He wriggles in front, between Nora and Jil. Funny, but Jil does not like it one bit. Apart from the many fossils, I also see many dead horse bodies. At 4 kilometres before my destiny, we get company from another horseman, on his way to Las Lajas. We chat away, while carrying on. He warns me about the saddle-cloths moving from underneath the saddle again. At a pool, there is plenty of water here, I stop, allow the horses to drink and restore the saddle-cloths. I am close to ‘La Porteña’, I see many different trees and a lot of reed land with cows and horses. A sign with the name comes up, where I go down from the road to a gate, but at that gate the horses cannot pass, due to a functioning cattle grid. I leave my herd and go into the direction of the noise of a tractor. A huge fellow with beard and moustache stops the engine when he sees me coming. He asks me 3 or 4 times: does Caecilia know about you coming? He remains careful but tells me reluctantly that I have to go further for about 1 kilometre, around a hill. There indeed, I find a white gate, the entrance for animals.

Burning down undergrowth Burning down undergrowth.

Four men are busy clearing a part of the terrain from undergrowth, high and dry reed and dead trees. The tractor driver leads me to the kitchen. I asked him that, because the kitchen is always the nerve centre at a farm. The building does not look very inhabited and it is not; a long porch with 6 doors, all closed with a piece of iron wire. Behind the door I come to a large room with electric light. The room does not look as being used very often. There is a fireplace and in a niche some shelves. The floor is littered with pieces of rope, boots, empty boxes, pots and pans (with- and without fat) and a lot of dust. One of the boxes is not empty: a bag of sugar, tea bags and mate herbs. I found more food: a bag with at least 10 kilo flour (for torta fritta) and a bag with onions. Spices found are mostly pepper. I just finished my quick survey when the gaucho’s look into the direction of the house, with a face clearly showing relieve: they don’t have to take the responsibility much longer, the boss, Caecilia did arrive after two weeks of absence. The tractor driver with the beard, approaches her in a hurry and they talk a while. The bearded man starts immediately getting fire wood, dumping that in a corner from the kitchen, where I also saw two matrasses standing against the wall. Caecilia, aged probably close to her 40th, blond half long hair in a small tail. She speaks better French than English. For me it is at this stage, rather complicated to convert to speaking French. She was expecting me already 2 weeks ago, but understands immediately why I did arrive only now. She does have no objections what so ever, for me to stay 2 days here. She shows me the bathroom at the end of the building. She directs the gaucho where to take my horses. When I need something, I just can come to the house and ask. My horses are patiently waiting for things to happen. I take their saddles and luggage off them, while the gaucho’s watch with interest. Caecilia comes to strike my horses. When all my luggage is taken to the kitchen the gaucho and I take two horses each, walking them towards a meadow. I walk behind Jut and Jil, watching their walk: perfect, both have the same strong thick rear end, Jut is slightly bigger than Jil. They refuse to follow the gaucho across a small bridge, the gaucho is struggling. With Nora and Daan I just walk over it without any hesitation. We lead them into a not too large meadow. Nora is immediately sprinting away: a big splash, some thrashing and soaking wet she comes back to me, clearly aggrieved. The gaucho joyfully says: she has taken a bath. I see the problem: a stream, not wide but deep and covered with greens. Nora just misjudged the situation. Back in the kitchen, the gaucho tells me, they keep cows. I lite the fire, easily because I throw every I find in the fire-place: carton, paper, plastic bags and plastic bottles. I find a broom and clean the whole place: ceiling, walls, planks, window sills, the floor, everything. I can sweep everything directly out of my door onto the floor of the porch. Later I clear the porch floor. It looks a lot better now and absolutely comfortable for a couple of days. In a room next to the kitchen I find animal food. Many bags and a large quantity of loose dumped maize. In the middle of the heap of maize, a cuddly piggy is feasting. It disappears rapidly but granting when I show up. In the washroom I get a bit disappointed: there are two smelly normal toilets, a long steel wash basin with 6 taps, two shower cabins and a high placed stove with a hot water pressure tank: but no water, everything is frozen. Back in the kitchen I install myself and make a bed. After that I go see Caecilia in the house. The night has fallen by now, at half past seven. We share mate and tell our stories. Caecilia appears to be single. She is the youngest of 6 sisters and 4 brothers, all living at the American continent. They live far apart: the furthest Southward in Ushuaia, the furthest North somewhere in Canada. I ask her to draw for me the way to go for the next couple of days. I need some guidance because I think to have left my map in Zapala, probably with Juan. Tomorrow and Sunday there will be visitors coming, a sister with her husband tomorrow and a niece on Sunday. The sister lives 110 kilometres from here to the North, very close to the farm from Martin Camps. I will be welcome there as well. Caecilia goes through her mail, so I part. In the kitchen I get the fire going again and cook, for the first time in two months using my own meth burner. I don’t have much left to cook. Tomorrow I go with Caecilia to Las Lajas, for shopping.
Saturday, 14th of August. The temperature in my residence is agreeable, when I eat my breakfast. With a bag full of maize, I go to my horses. It is freezing cold outside and all the water at their meadow is frozen up. Crossing frozen waters is a bit treacherous. Some ice is covering running water and there it is to thin. When going through the ice, you end up in rather deep mud. The horses stand, as usual, at the far end of the meadow. I have to go very careful because it really is a swamp. In order to get the horses to the fence in front, they have to cross a ditch less then a meter wide. They don’t do it, so I leave the maize at the gate and go away. The gaucho’s and Caecilia are again busy burning down the unwanted or dead growth, an annual activity. It is a nice warm job, because the flames are sometimes meters high. It is not dangerous, because there is no wind and the flames are going to short to lite the many trees. Besides the usual poplars there are very old pear trees with a lot of dead branches. From the ditch running through the terrain, they get buckets of water to kill the flames that go to far or to high. At 12 o’clock, Mercedes, Caecilia’s sister, arrives with her husband. We meet and talk: about the area, Zapala, the way to go for me, my lost map, cows, horses, etcetera. They invite me for lunch. The table is set outdoor, in the sun. The sheepdogs, a pair with four puppies of 8 weeks, are clearly glad to have the boss back. We have mashed potatoes and lots of tender meat, drink Gancia and water. For afters we have home made maize-cake with ‘Dulce de Leche’, followed by coffee and tea. That was very nice. When we are more or less finished telling stories, I return to my shelter for a healthy nap. In the wet room I had the stove going and a tap open. The water started to go, but the waste pipe appears to be blocked. So now I have a deluge. On the other side of the building, Caecilia, Mercedes and her husband are busy. In the room there, a variety of meat products is hanging, mostly chorizo sausages. Four large hams are stored in a box with salt. The hams are taken out to be cleaned. The salt is scrubbed off, then they are washed in the brook and placed in a trough with tap water. One ham is kept there until tomorrow. I get a slice of it, to taste it. It is time to feed my horses. They are again standing in the far back of the meadow. I manage to get there, give Daan (the skinny fast burner) some from the bag to eat and leave the rest there, wishing them all the best. On my way back, I have to get over a fence three times and jump a number of ditches. When I am dawdling at a wider brook, I see some strange movement in the water; a fish? No, all of a sudden, I see a large smooth brown back. Then appears the whole animal in full glory. What is that, an otter maybe? The animal is at least one meter long, swimming no more than half a meter in front of me. When I put my foot down with force, the animal disappears like a flash. I was certainly a bit scared, because I don’t really know what is was and thus I have no idea about its behaviour. At 5 o’clock I should go to Las Lajas with Caecilia. Walking back from the meadow, I see her driving towards my shed so I hurry up. The ride is only short, through neat lands. The country side looks well maintained; very little rubbish and neat cottages. The road is lined with still leafless trees. We drive through a gate, welcoming visitors, and further along a winding road passing two newly built neighbourhoods, into a valley where the village with its 4000 inhabitants appears to be hidden.

Gendarmeria Las Lajas.Gendarmeria Las Lajas

Caecilia confirms that the village is pleasant, well maintained, with nice flowerbeds, many trees, well surfaced roads and pavements. I see only very few hovels. We come to a crossing in the centre, where we meet a funeral procession, causing Caecilia to ask aloud “I wonder who has died?” I respond by saying: ‘a Mapuche’, causing Caecilia looking at me puzzled. I continue; look at the people in the first following car. It left her amazed. She parks the car and we part. I do my shopping and she hers. I need only little time to buy what I need from the supermarket. I sit down at a café where two plastic chairs with a tiny table are standing at the pavement in the sun. I ask for coffee: no, for beer; no, for soft drink, yes but only per litre. Strange café. In the end I can get coffee, but have to wait for hot water. The coffee is good, with a glass of tasty fresh water. I watch the passers-by: pleasant, young and old, greeting me. Many free walking dogs of all sorts and measures. Two dogs, small, of which one is so randy that he climbs his mate: his dick is sticking nearly to the front paws of the other. Caecilia finds me just when it is becoming a bit cool. Back at the farm, I go to my place, busy myself with writing and keeping the fire going. I sleep on and off, eat a bit, smoke some and sleep again. It is again a very cold and extremely silent night, no moon and a fascinating sky totally covered with stars.
Sunday, 15th of August. I had a good night and wake up happy and well rested. The horses discovered the bag with maize and are busy emptying it. Jut is eating and tends to kick when I disturb him. Daan is joining. Jil and Nora are grazing near a ditch, imperturbable. To help Daan a bit, I get Jut and take him to Jil and Nora. They disappear to the far end again, out of sight. I stay there, with Daan, for half an hour, enjoying the silence, nature and the noisy meadow birds. I busy myself working on the saddles. The husband of Mercedes is busy with his hams and he comes to marvel at my equipment. He is a nice guy. Today I had a very quiet day. First, I cleaned out the heater and lit it again for cooking. The meal I made today consists of onion, much garlic, lentils, seasoning. At the grill I prepared a large T-bone steak. Writing my diary is a nice activity for the Sunday. The gauchos don’t work today. Of course, I saw and fed my horses. Caecilia did have a lot of visitors: I don’t disturb them.

Caecilia, Mercedes and Walter Caecilia, Mercedes and Walter.

During my dinner I get company from two nice cocks, 4 large chickens and three cats. The most forward is the piggy: she inspects my cooking gear, tastes some of my food and slips into my kitchen on a reconnaissance tour. I go to bed early.
Monday, 16th of August. 89th travel day. It is nice weather. My four horses are, for a change, waiting at the fence nearby. Nora and Jil stand side by side looking at me. Today all is new again, because I am going to ride the new Jut. Caecilia and her gaucho’s are all watching when I am preparing my herd and they comment with suggestions, of course. At 13:00 I am ready to leave, with the gaucho joining to open and close the various gates. Jut does have a good pace and is not at all bothered by pools: he just goes straight through. When everything seems to function, the gaucho hands me a present: a pocket knife in a leather pouch. I arrive at the cross roads to Las Lajas after half an hour, tired from all the preparations and from managing the four horses in their unfamiliar order. I stop at the patrol station, park the horses and get something to eat. Since I lost my map in Zapala, I ask the staff at both the patrol stations. In the second one, they have a map. This map is not as good as the one I had, but it is at least something. They ask $4,50 for it, I offer them $2 and that is enough for them. We carry on travelling, it is warm and we all sweat except Daan, the hyper active fast burner horse. He is all the way trying to get in front, pulling and pushing the others. He is sweat, the scrawny animal. At 5 o’clock we cross the river Las Lajitas. Just across the bridge to the left of the road and between road and river, there is a cottage/small farm.

Around Las Lajas Life around Las Lajas.

I decide to call it a day and go there. A nice boy approaches me and behind him a quiet man. I am welcome. They help me dismantling, amazed and inquisitive, constantly asking: what is this and what is that and what does that cost. My luggage goes into a wheel barrow, to a barn with a corrugated metal roof, where I can sleep. My horses go into a nice meadow, where they love it. They chase one another, whinnying, tails up in the air, kicking and threatening around: a lovely sight when they roll down in the grass. The sons help me making a bed, with a foam rubber matrass. I have light from my own inspection lamp. Then we go to the house where we drink mate and chat. A car with two couples and three boys arrives: friends from Neuquen on a long weekend. They stay in Las Lajas. We play soccer for a while, chat again and the visitors leave again. Mother starts cooking and we eat a simple but very nice meal. The family consists of father (48), mother (33) and three sons (14, 12 and 10). They have all sorts of animals, a little of everything: horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats. The father would like to have a mule, but he lacks the money to get one. At 21:00 I go asleep. That goes very well, it is not cold and again the sky is beautiful with all the stars.
Tuesday, 17th of August, the 90th travel day. Then night was a bit disturbed from time to time. I heard stones rolling. On the other side of the road there is a high slope from where regularly small quantities of stones come down. Fortunately, the stones fall into the other side of the road, where they stay. Some horses were busy on this side of the road, causing unfamiliar roar. I pick up Jut and Jil because their gear is laying in my hut. I am asked to join mate, good, because my fingers are cold by now. After drinking the mate, I get help in rigging my horses. The three boys left already for school in Las Lajas. When we are ready packing, the oldest son came on his bicycle back from school early. When ready, I pay the father for his assistance and hospitality. He saddled his own horse, because he insists on joining me for a while; very nice of him, but we are not making much progress this way. A while after passing the road to Chili, he is going back and I reorganise my herd. Jut is riding lovely, no movement in his back at all. The others are following happily and we make good progress. My map is not very accurate, gives only very few information and I believe that the given distances are wrong. According to my host I should arrive at my destiny around 6. The first stretch passes over a high plane, with a strong headwind, barren with nothing to eat for my horses, so we ride on fast. A car passes, stops and turns. A man and woman get out; the man looks familiar. He is mr. Passini from the hardware store in Zapala. They came all the way just to see me, how I was doing. He plays a bit aggrieved, ‘because I did not come to say goodbye’. After a friendly and funny chat, they return to Zapala. I like that, a lot. It happens a couple of times: cars stop, people get out to chat, they have heard of me or seen me on television. One of them really thought that I am a gold digger, not so strange because I may look like one. Another one stops to ask me for directions: he is delivering trees to a farm. I am even able to help him! As usual, the road across the plane is boring: no trees, no sheds or shelter, no water. One of the motorists has useful information: the plane is ending soon, with the road going straight down into the valley of the Rio Agrio. When I arrive there, the scenery is immediately totally different: wet meadows, cows, horses, trees and life. At 2 o’clock I arrive at a huge camping. The camping is open all year, mainly for people on a weekend tour. Today there is nobody but some staff: I take an hour rest at the fire, with mate. The camping looks good, with huts near fire places, soccer ground, well equipped playground and a large glasshouse with tables, chairs, etcetera. They keep many animals: horses, cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chicken, dogs and cats. After the hour rest, I carry on and get company from a gaucho returning from his outback to the farm. That was fun. The roadsides are easy to go on, with sufficient grass and water. My goal for today is the farm from a man who is allegedly good in making a sort of orthopaedic irons for Nora. These would be helpful, because she is not lifting her hindlegs, thus causing the irons to scratch all the time and they therefor wear out too fast. I have to ask many people for directions, but the given information is too variable to trust it. At a road turning to the left, I would arrive in Huarenchenque at the other side of the river. I carry on, because I am sure to find a place to stay for the night. Just before a brook, I pass a soft drink factory. People there attract my attention, so I go there. They show me the whole factory and leave a bit later with two large bottles of the local ‘Cola’. More important is the observation, that Jut is missing an iron from his left fore leg. That is annoying. I have another 4 kilometres to go and decide to walk the distance. It is not good to ask Jut to do any work now, walking uneven. The four are happily walking beside me. I find the sought farm a bit earlier than expected. I see some-one chopping wood, of course, and he confirms that I did arrive at my destination for today. The boss is not here, so again I have to argue, not too long fortunately. I am led onto the terrain: a large shed, a tiny hut and an undefinable stone building. At a flat cart I park my horses, because first we must drink maté and discuss my stay. It all goes well and assure them that their boss will have no problems. So, we unpack the horses, leaving the gear onto the flat cart. My personal luggage goes into the tiny hut, where the two young men reside, cook and sleep together in one bed. We clear one corner in the hut, for my sleeping bag. The horses are taken to a nice meadow with cows. They have good grass and water there. It is hot in the shed, so soon I sit on my matrass dressed in my thermo underwear, writing my diary, sharing a meal with bread, mate and cola. Talking with the young men: they are only employed for a while to clean out all the brooks at the farm. They are originating from Huarenchenque. They like my radio, because they themselves have nothing like it. At 22:00 my eyes are becoming heavy, I fall asleep. The young men, Pato and Manuel, follow soon. I don’t even notice it when they switch off the light.
Wednesday the 18th of August and the 91st travel day. The two boys get up early: I stay in bed a bit longer. There is simply electric light. It works better than an oil lamp. The fire is on and we drink mate. At 7 I have breakfast while the boys are getting in- and out. At 7:45 they disappear, on horses. The boss is present as well, but they did not tell me. Juan Carlos, the boss, is a nice guy. He did indeed not mind at all, me staying here for the night. He explains that he produces hoof-irons, yes, but only normal ones. He gives me a complete set for Jut, free of charge. For Nora I need orthopaedic advice and he cannot give me that. I can only get that in Buenos Aires! So, I leave it as it is. Shoeing he does not do: he does have a heart condition. For shoeing I have to go 10 kilometres further up the road, to Estancia Santa Theresita. Fortunately, I do have sufficient nails for shoeing. After a lengthy mate and story telling (he knows Juan in Zapala very well) with another guest from a farm I have passed, I leave at 11 with all best wishes. The temperature is good, half covered sky. I ride Daan for the first time. The herd start a bit disorganised but after a while all find the necessary pace. Daan is, as I already know, a bit restless and wild: he goes into gallop fast and without me asking for it. I have to keep him under control, but that is no problem. Around 13:00, we enter estancia Santa Theresita: a huge terrain with lots of fences, gates, electric fences. Many cows, horses and two dogs of which one is a playful Doberman pincher. Before entering there is a cattle grid, so I have to park the horses and walk up to the farm, searching for somebody. A young guy with sleep in his eyes appears, he helps me further on. He gets me to a shelter with a door directly leading to the meadow with my horses and attached to the milkery. The shelter has two heaters, firewood, yerba mate, table, a number of chairs and in the backroom, three beds. Unfortunately, there is no electricity. There is electricity in the milkery next door, as well as crystal clear water. It is a terrible mess, so I clean up first. Then I prepare maté and replenish the fire wood for tonight and tomorrow morning. At 16:00 two gaucho’s appear and soon after they are shoeing Jut. They admire Jut and for the first time, they assume me to have payed more for him than I did. After shoeing, they don’t want to hear from payment. More gaucho’s appear to have a chat. At 19:00 it starts raining changing later into pouring, a rarity according to one of the gaucho’s. It is a comforting noise, the rain pouring onto my metal roof, while I am sitting here, at a table, dry, with light from my own battery, my own radio and an oil lamp. I cooked a nice meal, enough for now and for tomorrow morning. The gaucho mentions that somewhere there were 4000 casualties form a natural disaster. The fire does not work well, the chimney does not draw and this means that in no time my shelter is full of smoke, no matter the many ventilation holes. The oil lamp is not going properly either. Fortunately, my own inspection lamp works properly. At 22:15 I go to bed and switch my radio on, but I don’t get any signal. So, I go to bed. xx-web wk 33 Neuquen

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Week 32-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 5-11.

Grasveld achter IJselberch My lawn is no longer green, due to lack of rain.

Strand Katwijk (1) Sunday morning at the beach.
This Sunday we have the annual meeting at the beach in Katwijk. We, are descendants of grandparents Bokma and grandparents Bol. It is always a surprise who is joining in. It is holiday time and certainly members with young children may be away, while others are getting older and less capable of coming to the beach. So far it has been a happy happening and well attended. The weather does not always help, but today the weather was absolutely fine: not too hot, due to a cool breeze from the north. Today twenty family members appear. It was a pleasant occasion again.

Monday is a hot day, to hot to do much. I did sleep a lot and have been busy keeping cool. The Netherlands is experiencing a heat wave, apparently exceeding the one from 1976 of which I don’t remember anything. I am usually not very bothered by weather conditions.
Some time ago, my sister asked me to keep this Tuesday open: no plans. I am very obedient, always, so when asked to appear at 10:50 o’clock in Roelofarendsveen and the home of a niece, I just do that. I arrived between 10:50 and 10:59 so in time. Usually I arrive early, but today I dropped someone in Amsterdam and that did cost more time than envisaged. At arrival I was asked to leave my car and take a bicycle. My niece, her husband and I went on a pleasant cycle tour which ended at a restaurant where I was welcomed by a lot of family members. I was given a birthday hat and they sang a birthday song for me. After the song a large cake was brought which I tried to cut into 15 more or less even parts. After the consumption of the cake and some drinks, a very nice open boat arrived at the quay. We boarded and were afloat for two hours at the many waterways in this part of Holland, close to the Brasemermeer.

Tulpen route (3) View of waterwaysTulpen route (2) Along the tour: notices.

The captain told us many stories about the people and the businesses here. Underneath a bridge, in the shadow because it was very hot, the others sang a song highlighting my bad and good habits. The boat trip ended where it had started. We finished the birthday happening with some more drinks, after which we parted for home. It was a lovely happening. I did not go home, but had dinner with my sister and brother in law. Back in Amersfoort, I am pretty tired and go to bed early.
Wednesday. During the night it has been raining a bit and it cooled down, so I slept like a log. I did some shopping, in particular buying and posting a present for my friend in Slovakia. She has her 39th birthday next Monday. I also bought something for my brother and his wife, since they have their 49th matrimonial year tomorrow.

Soest-Zuid (2) Soest-South, shopping.
Late in the Thursday morning, the weather was still nice, I took my swimming trunks and a large bath towel and went to Noordwijk. In Noordwijk I visited an I anymore, due to a fall. His wife used to walk every day, up and down from their house to the nursing home, where her husband was. Now they are living together again. They are still busy with the furnishing of their apartment. The apartment is large, with a lot of daylight and a splendid view at a large square with church in the centre.

Uitzicht voor Hans en Antje Noordwijk.

After coffee and lots of talking, I parted and went to Katwijk to meet my brother and his wife. I heard that they were still in Leyden, so I went swimming. By then it was raining, but in the sea, you don’t have problems with that. Coming out of the water, I saw that the staff of the beach pavilion is busy with preparations to prevent damage from the storm that is prognosed. Since I am still waiting to meet my brother, I did help the pavilion staff. When they considered every precaution taken, I left and took a nap in my car at the boulevard.

Kleurige velden in Noordwijk (1) Flowers in Noordwijk.

Around 5 o’clock I decided to go and see at their lodge. They were home. After a short recollection of our adventures, we went to a restaurant to eat fish. After our meal, we decide to take a walk at the beach, but just when we walk along the boulevard, the storm hits the beach and we decide to part. I drive back to Amersfoort and get home without meeting any adverse weather conditions.
On Friday I do some shopping but stay home for the rest of the day.

Verdorde flora Dying flora.
Saturday morning, I had planned to go to Katwijk again, in order to take the luggage of my brother and his wife in my car to Schiphol. I get into my car and turn the car key. Nothing happens. Then I see that yesterday, after shopping, I have left my car lights switched on: the battery of my car is now very dead. With help of a friend, I tried to get my car alive again. First, he towed me around but that did not work. Then we tried it with jump leads: it failed. I disconnected my battery and took it up to my apartment, where I connected is to my charger.

Opladen accu Trying to charge my car battery.

That failed, because the charger does need a minimum of 8V left in the battery to get started. I am short of further possible solutions and ring my garage. They come with their large support car and with their very strong battery, we manage to get my car going again. I drove around a bit and left the car, hoping to be able to start it again, tomorrow morning. My brother and his wife had to carry their luggage to Schiphol themselves.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, August 5-11.
Anyway, I can just carry on with Jil, Nora and the new Jut. We call it a day and will see further, tomorrow.

Argentina start foto
Thursday, 5th August. The hoof-smith Vacundo appears at my hotel. We eat croissants and drink coffee. Then we go to his farm where we feed his horses and pick up his tools. When at Juan’s farm, I get my horses to the coral. Jut and Nora come when they see me. For Jil I have to go through a meadow with lots of gullies with water: Jil is courting Calandria and he follows her where she goes. I have to chase Calandria to the coral, with Jil following. When they ate all, Vacundo wants to start shoeing Nora. Vacundo is very self-confident, and his work may be good, but the horses don’t like him one bit. They react on him agitated, avoiding him and resisting. To do Nora’s hind legs, we have to take her down on her side, but she is terribly strong. Even with all 4 legs bound together and me sitting on her neck with my full weight, she manages to get up. It takes one hour to get her hoofs fixed. Trying to do Jil’s hind legs is even dangerous. Jil kicks even sideways to try and hit Vacundo. The new Jut is the only one who allows shoeing without objections. I am eating a carrot and Jut smells it. He likes carrots obviously, because all of a sudden, he grabs the carrot out of my hands. He even eats the peelings (I peel the carrot). I now have three horses ready to continue my journey. When Carlos, the vet, arrives, he puts on a white overall and puts his arm deep into Calandria’s behind. His face speaks for itself: Calandria is pregnant and not far from giving birth, probably within one month.

Prio voelt geboorte en Vacundo kijkt toe Vet Carlos, with Calandria. and assistance from gaucho Frederico and Vanunco the farrier.


This means for me, that I will have to rethink, what to do now. I have to confer with Juan now and getting in contact with him appears to be very complicated. I spent half a fortune on phone calls to non-responding numbers and to family and partners, but today: no Juan.
Friday, 6th of August. At arrival at the farm, the new Jut is already there, waiting for me. I get the old Jut and feed them together, without problem. I don’t see Nora, Jil and Calandria. The gate to the vast sierra is open. After twenty minutes, they appear in full galop: a beautiful sight. They stop at a wrong gate and I go to guide them. Nora is following without hesitation, but Jil and Calandria stay, watching. Half an hour later I go pick up the ‘pair’. Now I have a herd of 5 horses, all eating. The present situation is now, that I still need a replacement for Calandria. Vacundo says that if need be to get me on my way, Carlos will have no problems falsifying the documentation belonging to Calandria to another horse. We go to the shop and buy again a lot of food for my horses. Vacundo knows a lot of people with horses for sale, so we go tomorrow and see some. Back in town I go to the bar where I am always going for writing my diary. Outside I spot a dishevelled looking Indian, warming himself at the flue from the gas heater inside. There are two pool tables, very well used by school children in their hip cloths school uniform coats. When they are not playing pool, they sit opposite one another busy French kissing with their hands under the table. People here are marrying very young with immediately a lot of children. Vacundo at 26y old, does have 5 children. I meet Vacundo’s wife today for the first time: she teaches in Chos Malal and usually stays there all weekdays. Having a family is still very important here and children are holy. As promised, Andrès arrives in time with news from Juan: I may take another mare, Genevra. Genevra is a big horse, still nursing her 7-month-old foal or I can get my money back. Juan also confirmed that changing the documentation would not be a problem. Later today I get Juan on the telephone myself and he is glad to hear me telling him that it rained today. Juan makes excuses for the pregnant Calandria and says: things like that happen, with women getting pregnant at the wrong moment.
Saturday, 7th August. Vacundo is late. When we arrive at the farm, all my horses are together. We guide them into the paddock. Then we separate Jut (formerly Picasso), Calandria and Gevenvra’s foal, with difficulty. The foal does not like it, to be separated from its mother, and jumps the one meter high fence, without a running start. I write down the characteristics from Genevra. After that we drive along the various camps, his friends and his family. That is a very interesting trip and shows me a lot of the area with much water, many wet meadows and the cement factory. The objective of this trip is to find a suitable horse to replace the pregnant Calandria. The first horse we get to see is from an Indian who is not present at his hide-out. The horse is white, very tame, skinny and it has diarrhoea, according to Vacundo this horse is at least 16 years old. In the next meadow we see the horse from a policeman who offered the animal for $350 at first, but is now asking $500 for it. I made it clear that I find that too much. It is however an appealing horse and easy to approach. ‘The next stop is at the home of the chairman from the ‘gaucho’ association, where we drink mate and I hear that they are proud of me. Very funny. Then we go to the family farm of Horacio Mundano. They don’t have a horse for me there, but they are very interested in what I am doing. At his farm, there are ducks, geese and peacocks walking around free, eating from a heap of vegetable remains. In a shed, Horacio shows me a large amount of fossils of which I may choose one.

Farm Horacio Mundano Horacio Mundano met neefje en Vacundo

Horacio with a grand child and Vacundo the farrier.

We are invited to come back tonight and join at a barbecue. Back in town we shop for food and eat that at Vacundo’s place. We do that, because all restaurants in town are overloaded with politicians, here for a congress. Vacundo’s house is detached in a modern part of town. It has the usual steel front door, after which you enter immediately the living room. In these 3-year-old houses lots of things are of very bad quality and already broken, like hinges of the doors. With 8 people at the table, it is a happening. The oldest child is 12 years, with to me typical European (Polish) looks. Shortly after the dinner, Vacundo’s sister arrives, with the specific goal to talk in English with me. She is good in it, which is not very surprising since the was educated at and English boarding school in Buenos Aires. She is sociable, unmarried, with a child from a dope who did not want to get married. She is a very good tango dancer, because after a while I remember to having seen her at the 1st folkloristic festival here, some weeks ago now. When we are having coffee for afters, a gaucho riding a horse appears. The horse is for sale at $350, but, he says, we can talk about the price. When he shows it, we spot a ‘swing’ in a hind leg and Vacundo is talking about ‘bad’ irons. Next, we drive to Vacundo’s farm to feed his horses. A man appears, offering me again another horse, called Cordijo (rabbit), for $200. It is nice horse with a strange name. By now it is late. I have now a choice of horses. We go to my herd to feed them, after which we go to my hotel to play pool.

Horacio met neefje en VAcundo op zijn land Countryside behind Horacio’s farm.

Just after 20:00 o’clock we drive to the Mundano farm for the barbecue, in pitch dark. The welcome is a feast, I am kissed and cuddled by the whole family of something like 18 individuals. It is terribly hot in their kitchen where a variety of meats simmer at a number of spits. We sit at a large long table and enjoy the very well cooked and spiced meat of cow and sheep. They are also producing chorizo sausage, so the whole kitchen is full of pieces of meat, parts of a pig and other unclear meat ware. The family present are a lovely grandmother, father, mother, sister (Nora), brother, sister-in-law, and 8 children in the age of 7-17 years old. It is a real happening, animated. They fire questions at me of all kinds, they listen patiently when I, in my best Spanish, try to answer their questions and they laugh easily and often. Tomorrow, Horacio says, I must come back at midday, to eat ‘empanada’s’. At midnight we are back in town, where we are halted by police. Vacundo and the policemen talk, confer by radio and not much later the policeman who offered me a horse, appears. His horse is now for sale for $400. It is funny: Vacundo and I are slightly drunk and now this: characteristic for this part of Argentina!
Sunday, 8th of August. International ‘Day of the child’. After feeding the horses, the taxi takes me to church. They are Baptists. There are many children. I am welcomed friendly. Prayers and singing for half an hour, with a huge sound system, overhead projector for words, electrical guitar, no organ or piano. After this start, children and elder are separated. I am guided into a room with a group of men and women, where a pastor explains Biblical text, agreeable, open, and short. Fortunately, I do, by now, speak sufficient Spanish to grasp the essence of what is being said. Back at the hotel, I eat some bread in my room. At 13:15 I get a taxi to take me to Mundano. Again, they greet me with hugs and kisses. They have seen me on television and said to themselves: ‘he is mad, but certainly brave’. Outdoor it is pleasant, while the kitchen is again hot. We drink wine, eat empanada’s, check out horses, barbecue again with salad and bread. A special treat is a meat-croquette in green leaf with a rich sauce of melted cheese. For afters we get ice cream with flan. One of the children, Alexandra of 8 years old, appears in gaucho outfit: boots, grey bombasta (knickerbocker), shirt as white as snow and grey cardigan. She looks smashing, but I comment that a bit of colour would be fitting, like for instance a nice colourfull scarf.

Kleindocher Horacio Alexandra.

At 16:00 one of the uncles take me back to the farm with my horses. Now it is stormy with a lot of clouds speeding along the sky. It is not cold. The new Jut is just as shy as the old Jut, so I put them separated from the others to eat. Nora is keeping her grounds with some difficulty and Jil is clearly bossy in the group of mares, Calandria, Genevra and her foal. Back at the hotel, I am really tired from all the impressions and the rich lunch. I stay at the hotel, to write and to think about a horse to buy. I decide to buy the ‘rabbit’ for $200. Genevra is a nice horse, but she is much bigger than the others and that is not good in my opinion.
Monday, the 9th of August. Today, one month ago I arrived in Zapala. The storm caused an uneasy disturbed night. Some roof tiles lay in the street. I had milk and salami on my window-sill to keep cool. I find the milk down in the garden. The salami is probably eaten by cats. When having breakfast, Vacundo knocks on my window. I have a cold: my throat produces a dogged itch, cough and slime while my nose is blocked: I don’t smell much now. In Zapala with its 36000 inhabitants, there are 120 taxis. A ride to the farm cost $2,40. Shoeing a horse cost $20. That is not expensive, but Vacundo would have asked $40 for Jil and for Nora if he had known their behaviour beforehand. We go to the police station where we learn that the policeman who wanted to sell his horse, is off duty. At his home we only find a Husky dog walking restlessly on his line. After 15 minutes of calling, whistling and clapping, a sleepy females head appears from behind the curtains. After again 15 minutes, the policeman comes out: washed, groomed, shaved and stinking of a cheap aftershave, barefooted in slippers. He carries a bridle set and lasso. I tell him that I am prepared to buy his horse for $350, for a while he pretends to consider my offer with a lot of doubt. But he agrees and we go on our way. The horse, a grey called Nochero, is together with other horses and cows in a large meadow with a lot of brooks. As usual, all the horses gather at the far end of the meadow, so we have to plod through the squelchy terrain. The herd escapes a number of times but in the end, we get them into the coral. The mare leading the herd carries a bell; she defends her animals, but we get Nochero separated, after which the policeman rides it, without saddle, to Vacundo’s farm. We see a nice and easy-going horse. I pay the policeman and we bring him back to his home. Next, we make an appointment with the vet, Carlos, and we buy hoof-irons, anti parasitaria and drink maté at the shop. Another customer, a woman, shows enthusiasm: she saw me on television, she finds it great what I am doing and wishes me good luck. Vacundo has to go home now and takes me to the hotel, where I watch a nice film until a power failure occurs. I take a nap. In the afternoon Vacundo picks me up again and we go to his farm. The storm is still going causing a lot of dust creating a foggy situation. At his farm, the horse wagon is blown to its side, laying straight in front of the barn where he works. It requires a lot of force to get it upright again. Dust and sand swirls constantly through the open barn and working there is now impossible. We load Nochero into the back of Vanundo’s truck and go to the farm where my other horses reside. There we have a good place to work. Shoeing him is going easy, his hoofs look very good and Nochero seems to like me: he is quietly smelling me all over and puts his head on my head. He appears to be a kind horse, strong and well fed. The vet arrives and gives him two injections. I give the vet the documents from Calandria after which Vacundo and he return to town. I stay, because I want to have my four horses together in the coral. It cost me a lot of work, to get the right horses in the right place. I don’t manage to get Genevra and it is getting dark, so I leave her as it is. I am alone now, with the gaucho Frederico. No car, no telephone, so I return to town on foot and that is not easy now. The wind blows with 140km/hour, walking in a straight line is impossible, everywhere there is dust and sand. After a struggle of 4 kilometers, I arrive tired at the hotel where I find Vacundo who is just leaving after having plaid pool with Jorge, the son of the Lebanese owner. We will meet again, tomorrow morning early. I drop in to my usual café, rather exhausted, drink a coffee and a gin-tonic, eat a hamburger. Back in the hotel I take a hot shower, treat my eyes with a gel and write my diary. Tomorrow is another day.
Tuesday, 10th of August. Today, Andrès is telling me three Argentinian stories.
Story nr.1: Defunta (dead) Correa. It is the end of the 19th century. Groups of former soldiers, sometimes with a general, fought each other. Deolinda with her baby, followed her husband in one of these groups. She died in the desert. Her baby survived on its own until found by a group of gauchos traveling with a large herd of cows. The baby found in the desert started the now traditional habit to build ‘holy sanctuaries’ along the Argentinian roads. In these sanctuaries, locals place bottled water for ‘Defunto Correo’, thirsty travellers. In the province of San Juan, there is a memorial, where nearly every Argentinian goes once.
Story nr.2: La Pasto Verde (green grass) The year 1880. A woman called Carmen Fumes, travelled with her ‘girls’ following General Roca’s army. General Roca was fighting Indians who attacked farms in the province of Buenos Aires. Roca decided to chase them away to the West. After three year of fighting he arrived in the Province Neuquen. After his action, Roca returned to Carmen and started a ‘house of pleasure’, a brothel, in Cutral-Co. The nickname of Carmen came from her hairy upper-lip, green from drinking mate. The house where they ran the brothel, still exists. A local museum in Cutral-Co, with fossils like the largest dinosaur in the world, carries her name. Also, a ‘samba’ is called after her.
Story nr.3: Cefarino Namuncura. General Roca dispersed the Indians. He also founded a reserve for the Indians. As leader of the reserve he appointed an important Indian who had been one of his opponents. This Indian, called Manuel was given the rank of colonel and Roca dressed him like one. Manuel was the father of Cefarino. This Cefarino went to Rome and was christened as a Roman Katholic. Cefarino died in Rome, when he was 16 years old. The fact that Cefarino went to Rome, was a very important fact for the mostly catholic Argentineans. Cefarino became a Saint for them. To commemorate this, they erect the many holy memorials along the roads.
There are many stories like these, less well known but not less interesting.
Andrés told me these stories, this afternoon after my return from the farm, where I fed my horses. Yesterday I checked the hind leg of my ‘old’ Jut and he was resentful of it. Today I did not see him anywhere and it is better like this. My herd of four horses are now together in the paddock. I give them antiparasitaria. Nora does not mind and seem to even like it, but Jil is really difficult. I have to work hard to get it into his mouth. The wound on his back is looking very good, but I am advised not to ride him yet. Back in town I meet Andrès again, who is paying me back the $500 I paid to Juan for his pregnant horse. Andrès is treating me tonight with a ‘fare well’ meal. He orders ‘real Argentinian gaucho asado’, a plate with cows’ meat: ‘large intestine’, ‘salivary gland’, ‘anus sphincter muscle’, ‘black pudding’, ‘chorizo’, some ordinary meat and some chicken meat. Andrès clearly likes it a lot and orders more intestine and anus. I give him mine. He explains that gauchos usually eat this, because the real meat is for ‘the boss’. During the meal, he outlines the story of his life: born in 1946 in a prisoners of war camp in Italy, as 2 weeks old baby to England for political asylum and as a 3-year-old immigrated to Argentina. He does have a sister, born in 1961. He is from a family of gentleman farmers with a well-known history since approximately the year 1500! His family home in Warsaw is now a museum. The majority of his family was murdered, first by Germans and later by Russians.

Andrès Andrès.
Wednesday, 11th of August. Today Europe experiences a solar eclipse. I was supposed to go to the farm early, but I did not sleep well, resulting in a late wake up. Frederico, the gaucho, is a bit cynical about my late arrival. He had placed my four travelling companions together, where I brought them their breakfast. Nora kicks and bites to the two ‘newcomers’ causing these to get only few of the food. I give the newcomers an extra portion later and try to familiarize them. Nora screams and kicks, hitting me just above my knee. It is painful for a while, but not really too bad. When they are done with eating, I rig them for a trial ride. That is not easy and takes a lot of time. At 15:00 I am ready to start, when Vacundo and his sister appear. The trial goes very well. After the trial I discuss matters with Vacundo. He suggests a variety of alterations and that will take time again. Back in town I see Andrès who is busy. I go to bed early because tomorrow I want to start early, again.

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Week 31-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, July 29/August 4.

Ziekenhuis gesloopt (1) The hospital is gone.
The Sunday was warm and otherwise rather normaThe l. Visit church where I listened to a very clear sermon from our own pastor. After coffee with Hanke, I carried on to Eemnes to see Conner who was ‘home alone’. We had lunch together. I watched TV: ladies hockey team winning from Italy, ladies water polo team becoming European champions and Max Verstappen driving 5 rounds until his car failed him. There was a birthday card from Slovakia. Back home I made a fast food meal and wrote my blog.

Gebrek aan water in de natuur (1) The lack of rain is very clear in nature.
On Monday I only left home, to buy tobacco. Again, I tried to finish writing my blog but failed. I fell asleep early. The heatwave is tiring. I lack the inspiration to develop any plans, for my birthday for instance.
On Tuesday I heard from my friend Hanke, that she had to postpone her trip to Switzerland, due to heart problems. I managed to finish writing my blog and used the afternoon to hoover and wash the floor of my apartment: a nice job these days, playing with water.
Wednesday the 1st of August, my 75th birthday. Already very early I get the first apps to commemorate this fact. When I finished my morning routine, I had a few phone calls, mostly relatives. I rang a friend in Amersfoort, to congratulate her with her 82nd birthday. She asked me what I was doing today and I told her: nothing at all, just keeping a low profile. She invited me to come to her place for cake and a cool beer. I accepted that invitation, also because I had to buy some food as well and this friend is living very close to a variety of supermarkets. On the way I bought a present for her.

Fietsen in de buurt van Joke en Cees (4) Amersfoort, Eem square.

There were only her husband, her daughter and the brother of her husband. We had some funny conversations, I did eat cake, drank a beer and after that some rosé wine. After a couple of hours, I left to do my shopping nearby and went home: my friend gave me a bottle of good whisky. Very welcome, because I had run short of that. In the evening I heard that one of the girls in the block had been swindled out of a considerable amount of money. The poor girl had paid a lot of money for a new phone that was going to be delivered.

Leusderweg met Anouk (2) Leusderweg, Amersfoort.
On Thursday I did some shopping in Soest, where I bought a present for my brother who is due to arrive this Saturday from Norway.
On Friday I have been busy with the production of a sort of Guacamole according to my own recipe, with herring in mustard sauce. I found out what you have to do to prevent it from becoming brown due to oxidation. I had to cook it a short while. When finished I did taste it: it is ‘hot’, in terms of spicy. Some like it hot, I do, others don’t. I am taking it to our family gathering in Katwijk, next Sunday, for them to taste it. Together with 3 litres of white wine I did store it in my freezer.
On Saturday morning I am up at 5 o’clock, do my things and leave for Schiphol. The highway is very quiet, but at Schiphol I end up in a long cue to the parking. At Schiphol they are working out systems to control the enormous passenger load and especially the cars dropping them off and the cars picking up arrivals. It is a mess, even on an early Saturday morning ending up in a lengthy cue is not good. Anyway, I am early enough and meet my brother and his wife at the gate after 15 minutes of waiting.

Schiphol Schiphol, arrivals.

I take their luggage, while they take the train to Leyden. At arrival in Katwijk where my brother and his wife are spending a week of beach life, I drink coffee and wait for them to arrive by public transport.

Katwijk terras hotel Noordzee Katwijk, hotel Noordzee.
After their arrival we take their luggage to the location where they are staying. When that is done, we have an hour to talk about planning issues for the coming week. I return to Amersfoort and drive by Hanke where I drink coffee and walk with Toets in an unknown, to me, area. When back in the garden of home, she jumps into a forbidden pool. Pools may be dangerous these days, due to the growth of poisonous algae. After that I return to home and prepare myself to go to the birthday of one of the boys in Eemnes. It is Kenneth’s birthday and I was asked to come and join the BBQ, so I did. I was there around 4 o’clock and found a lot of young adult male persons, with his girlfriend, her parents and further a lot of people I have met there before. It was a pleasant occasion. I did not stay late, because tomorrow I am expected to be in Katwijk again, for our annual family gathering. I was back home around 22:00 o’clock. I felt tired and went to bed, a rarity, going to bed this early.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, July 29/August 4.
Now I go to my restaurant, ate and composed a menu for Saturday evening.


Characteristic Argentinian celebrations of foundation day.
Thursday, 29th July. Zapala. There is a very strong, very cold and dry wind today. The gates from the field where my horses used to stand are all open. Frederico is not there. First comes Nora and then Jil. They follow of course when I get the buckets with their meal. I give them half of it and treat Jil’s wound. The wound is healing well. A bit later Jut comes from afar, running. He can eat alone now. Before he is ready eating, I get my new mare Calandria. She is not yet used to me feeding but she goes well with Jut and starts to eat. Back in town I go to the shoe maker first: he is not ready with my equipment yet and promises to ring me when he is ready. Then I go to the book store, where I get four prints from pictures made by Molina Campos and I buy a book about Neuquen. Next, I go to the bank to cash 20 traveller cheques. When you look at that process, you get an idea why Argentina is not going well: this bank, branch 22, serves 26.000 clients with 700 employees. So that is 37 clients per employee! Ridiculous. It takes the bank two hours to complete the transaction. I watched while waiting. The cues waiting to get serviced is long and those people should be working. When you see the employees functioning, it is easy to get into a depression. Computers, type writers and telling machines stand next to each other on every desk, with around those machines gigantic heaps of loose papers and files in dishevelled folios held together with elastic band. Unbelievable, the Argentine National Bank! Andrès picks me up from the hotel. He goes to his office allowing me to go on the internet. There is a lot of news for me, with, logically the congratulations for my birthday. When I am ready, we go to the farm and feed the horses. After that we talk with Juan, Alicia and their son about the Trannack family. When Juan starts telling many details, I stop him because I want to register this story. We make an appointment for Sunday evening, to go to a mass together and write down the whole story afterwards.

2 1-8-99 Juan Juan.
Friday, 30th July. It is not as cold as yesterday. I am early at the farm. All the horses are present, together with the mare and here foal. Jil is behaving like a mad lover with his private parts at full alert. He chases Jut into the fence. Nora is defensive against the three mares. She copes but Jil’s attention for her is now at a minimum. After the feeding all but Jut cling together. Back in town I took film to the shop for developing and printing. I have to deal with light leakage. I did sleep nearly the w!!hole afternoon: I am becoming lazy. Feeding the horses in the evening, is showing very well how the pick order is: Jil chases Jut into the fences, Nora stands up. The two mares keep a distance.
The weather has changed rapidly: it feels like spring. Hugo, the gaucho, looks lovingly to Jil. Jut is walking normal again at last. It has become daily practise now and they are all in good shape, although Jut still can do with gaining some weight. It is Friday, so I decide to try and taste some of the night live. In my local café there is no live yet. In the casino it becomes a little livelier around midnight. Back in my café at 01:00 a trio is playing much too loud. I don’t like it much, so I go to bed.
Saturday, 31st. July. I slept like a log. After feeding I return to town, the weather is spring like. At the post office I send a package with souvenirs to Holland and I make some phone calls to Holland as well. In the evening, only Jut comes to be fed. I go to the restaurant for the diner I ordered to celebrate my birthday. The owner appears to have misunderstood the date and is not able to produce the meal I ordered. It is not a problem, we eat what he offers us and we have a lot of fun. Together we make a new appointment for Monday evening. My guests gave me some presents.
Sunday, 1st August. My 56th birthday. I get to hear the whole Trannack story today. The first steps on Argentinian soil was even before the year 1877. Richard, the godfather originated from Cornwall. Arturo, one of the descendants, founded Zapala in the year 1914. The most exciting part of the story is, how the family made it across Indian country. His wife Henriette was musician and played the piano, in the middle of the pampa, to keep the Indians busy while the men were going ahead on a reconnaissance expedition. After hours of story-telling, we discussed the continuation of my journey and that required some planning, because my hosts are leaving early Wednesday morning, for a week in Buenos Aires. The planning is: Monday evening to Senasa for the results of blood tests and picking up the horse from Pedro. On Tuesday vaccination of the horses and shoeing them, getting the owners documentation prepared with the Senasa health declarations, on Wednesday a trial run with the herd (4 horses) fully packed and departure on Thursday. On Thursday I reach a small community. On Friday I am supposed to arrive at the farm of friends. After that to La Lajas for a blacksmith to produce special corrective irons for Nora and stay overnight at the farm of a friend. In Chos Malal I have to rest and organise for a 500km trip through very arid country.
Monday 2nd August. Early in the morning, at Senasa, I leave a message for the veterinarian and go to the farm. Juan is ready to leave to Buenos Aires. He tells that the blood samples did not arrive in Esquel on Friday. The consequence will be, that I don’t get the results yet and can not complete the deal with Juan concerning his horse, before they leave. I go take risks, get my saddle and bridle and take a taxi to Pedro Pobleto. When there, we drink maté and complete our deal with paying him $350 for his horse. I saddle and go, riding the ‘new’ Jut. Pedro’s dog is following us. After a while, riding good, the horse loses confidence and tries to return. After some kilometres I try to chase the dog back to his home, but it stays put. I descent and walk my new horse for a while, ride it again for a while and walk beside it again. We proceed slowly and when in town we are both soaking wet from sweating. The new horse is clearly not used to a town, a new boss, noise and traffic: all circumstances he does not know. At the first opportunity in town, I stop for a sandwich washing it away with half a litre of juice. The new Jut is, in the meantime, trying to demolish the tree where she is parked. When out of town again, I find a nice piece of rubber tube. The tube works very well as whip and that helps a lot getting going when hitting the horses’ side. We arrive at the farm around 4 o’clock with also just the vet arriving. The vet vaccinates both the new Jut and Calandria, after which he brings me back to town. The shoemaker is ready making the new girdles I ordered. From there I walk to the restaurant, where they are busy preparing the ‘birthday meal’ I ordered. With my guests we have a lovely meal, with paella and garlic butter. Alicia is drinking beer, as is Andrès while Juan drinks water. I order Chablis and it does not take long before all of them drink white wine! The evening was very pleasant and we had a lot of fun telling stories.
Tuesday 3rd of August. The old Jut is now together with the mare and her foal. My now four horses are in the paddock and the nearby small meadow. I go to the vet and that takes time, because he is in discussion with a children’s doctor. Juan rings, telling that he will come as well, with the blood test result: they are positive.

Certificaat 20 Certificate.

We now go to a ‘master’ hoof smith, Mr. Martin. He likes to do what we need, special irons for Nora, but he has no tools any more. He promises to come to the farm this afternoon, to have a look at Nora. Back at Senasa office, Juan arrives and we go talk about the proceedings required when buying/selling horses. For me it creates a surprised laughing session, while Juan undergoes a neck cramp from it, he says. It is complicated, but we carry on. First, we go to the tax office where they calculate that I need to pay $3,50 (7% of the deal) on legal fees. With a ticket from the tax office, we go to the bank to pay the due amount. It takes a while, as I explained before. With the proof of payment, to the notary for legalising and production of the proper documentation. With these legal papers and the proof of duties paid, back to the tax office, where they stamp everything in many folds after which the deal is completed. Juan is tired from all the hazzle. Juan takes me to the hotel, where I sleep for an hour, before going to the farm again. The vet arrives as well, with the news that the master forger is not coming. The wife of the man has convinced her husband not to do the job: he has a heart condition and did not work since 1981. He is not old, understandably. Carlos, the vet, will arrange for another hoof smith and leaves with the documents from Nora. Around 20:00 o’clock I arrange the ownerships transfer with Juan. Andrès appears as well, with documentation about the Trannack family, a welcome addition to the information I already got from Juan.
I say good bye to Alicia and Juan, because they leave tomorrow morning very early for a week with Alicia’s sister in Buenos Aires. Andrès brings me to my hotel, where Jorge, the son of the Lebanese owner, pours me a very good whisky, as promised for my birthday. It makes me sleep very well.
Wednesday, 4th of August. The weather has changed again: strong winds and very dark clouds, but it is not cold and dry. At the Senasa office, where Carlos works, I meet the hoof smith, Facuna, 27 years old, married with 4 children and keen to know if he could find a job in Holland. At his home I am shown 4 race horses for short distance, 300 meter races. Three of these are quiet but nr. 4 wants to snap at everything. We load the tools and drive to the farm. My horses need to be fed first. The new Jut, Nora and Jil come immediately when I call. For Calandria I must to find her, with a bridle, so she is first for treatment. Facuna feels the horse’s body with a hand and when he goes at her groin she kicks all of a sudden and with force. Facuna looks up surprised and says somewhat amazed but very decisive: this horse is pregnant, probably 7 months! This is a devastating message, because it is of course out of the question for me to travel with a pregnant horse. We are not going to treat her and take the bridle off and put it on Jil. But Jil is absolutely not willing to be treated. Facuna applies a lock on his fore legs and a clamp on his lips and ear. Jil gets even madder, bite me in my left arm hard and completely jumps over me.

3 4-8 Jil wil niet beslagen worden. Frederico kijkt toe Facuna working on Jil while Frederico is watching.

My glasses fall off, my shinbone bruised and a bleeding nose, but no real damage fortunately. With his fore legs bound together Jil jumps to the paddock where he stays, not mad, but deeply indignant. Facuna is highly impressed by Jil but Jil does not like Facuna, so much is clear and I see it, following Acuna with his eyes while I can easily approach Jil without problem. Facuna is now very aware and careful with Jil. We ask the gaucho Frederico about Calandria and he confirms that he knows or at least strongly assumes that she is 8 or 9 months pregnant. I ask him why he did not say anything about that, and he responds that it is not his business to say anything about it: bosses’ business. So, I get to know again something about the way of life in this part of Argentina. A gaucho does solely what the boss says and is particularly adamant to do something on his own account. When I ask Andrès about this, he confirms it. Gaucho’s don’t take any initiative beyond their task and in this case for instance, they just assume that it was meant to be so, to sell me a pregnant horse. I call it stupid. With Facuna I return to town to pick up the right irons and look for Carlos the vet, but he is in a meeting. Back at the farm, Facuna applies a sedative to Jil, but that does not help either. After a lot of fighting we manage to get Jil laying down on his side. Even in this position it appears to a hard job to give Jil his new irons. The new Jut does have a new iron on one of his fore legs, very strange. Treating the new Jut and Nora works out to be very easy. All three horses have now clean hoofs, prepared to receive new irons and Jil’s forelegs are ready with new irons. At 4 o’clock we stop. Tomorrow morning, we will continue. Facuna drops me at Andrès’ office. Andrès is flabbergasted from the whole situation and we discuss options. He calls Carlos, who will come to the farm tomorrow morning to confirm the pregnancy for sure. When he confirms it for sure I will call Juan and discuss the situation. It means further waiting in Zapala and when I have to wait for the return of Juan, it means a further stay in Zapala for at least 10 days. We talk about options. Against all advise, I could continue my journey with 5 horses: very quiet but also very thrilling. When Juan does not come up with a reasonable solution, I will probably decide to do that. May be people will call me mad, but I don’t care about that. What risks are there? All 5 horses do have the proper documents for health and ownership. Jut (the old one) may start to walk with a limp again, but I can leave him anywhere. Calandria may give birth, somewhere, unexpectedly. Exiting. When that goes well in the natural way, I just can stand by and watch. When there are complications, Calandria will probably die: a pity but that is life in Argentina. Anyway, I can just carry on with Jil, Nora and the new Jut. We call it a day and will see further, tomorrow.

hotel nota Hotel bill.

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