Week 15-2018. Humenné/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 8-April 14.

Church in Medzilaborce/Gipsy believers with food baskets/Priest 
This Sunday, in Slovakia, is ‘second Easter Sunday’. I spend the day in Medzilaborce, with also the parents of my friend Lenka. With her mother I go the church there. Mother Helena has a basket with food with her, for it again to be blessed. At our arrival at the church, there is already a number of women waiting with their baskets, this time not inside the church but around it. From loudspeakers outside, we hear what is going on inside the church. After a while I go see inside. It becomes a boring and long-lasting service. Again outside, I see that the crowd has grown considerably, including a lot of gipsy families. Two hours after our arrival, the priest and his servants come out and t ceremony starts. He walks around the church, abundantly spraying holy water, from a 25-litre bucket, with a large fluffy brush. After this blessing, we hurry home, mother Helena with pain in her back from standing and waiting that long. At home, food is served and we enjoy the sunny day for a while. My friends’ parents are travelling home by train, halfway the afternoon. I go back to Humenné one hour later. Just on my way, still in Medzilaborce, I am stopped by police for identity control. The young policeman asks my identity document. I hand him my driving license. He looks at it, confers with his older colleague, comes back and asks my passport. I don’t have that with me, so I tell him: ‘under European law, my driving license with photo, is sufficient.’ He backs off, confers with his colleague again, hands me my driving licence and let me off the hook: they don’t have a clue.
There is still no news from Ukraine, so the trip to see my friend Mykola in L’Viv becomes uncertain. I checked my TomTom anyway and this told me the length and duration of the trip from Humenné.
For work at the clinic I bought a steel saw and cut sharp screw- and nail points. I helped laying linoleum in two of the larger shelters for cats. Transportation of dogs to and from the suburb where gipsies live, is becoming a routine.

All dogs are available for adoption: Pincher Johanka and Ella, Tara, Lady, Bobby.
At home, in the apartment, the washing machine is causing troubles. After washing sheets, the programme stopped at the spinning and indicated a blocked sieve. After draining by hand and checking the sieve, where no blockage was found, the machine still refused to finish the programme. It probably requires a technician to deal with this problem.

Early morning view with red sky/Church with clouds on the way to Michalovce.
With Lenka driving the garage borrowed car, we go to Michalovce to get her own car back. The winter tires have been replaced. At the dealers for Mitsubishi and Kia, I check prices for middle class cars. You have a brand-new car for under € 15.000. Probably they have, in Slovakia, the same system like in Germany where one does not have to pay the BPM tax like in Holland.
Two big fellows came to the animal clinic, arguing but in the end paying €105 for the treatment of the dog of one of the guys. The dog had been treated for days at the clinic in January. After the treatment the owner got his dog back, but the animal died anyway. Only now the owner and his mate came to pay for the treatment. I was told they are cops!

Lenka, Lilli and Maria Trimming Lilly (one of three).
On my bicycle one day, I come past a bicycle shop where three men are standing outside. I am hailed and react, returning from my way. I am told that my tires are not hard enough. They pump them up and we have a funny conversation.
On Friday I was busy with my cell phone, because it told me I could only do ‘emergency calls’. I suspected to be short of credit so I tried to increase that. It failed on Friday and also on Saturday morning. A chat with an employee from my bank helped: switch off and on your phone. I worked. I did, by the way, still have sufficient credit.
Early Saturday morning, I switch on the TV as usual when waking up. The news about the attack of Syrian targets by USA, France and England filled the screen. Of course, I followed the news for a while, but it was very ‘breaking’ and not very detailed. One specific detail amazed me somewhat: I wrote my registration of the trip in Argentina earlier this week, including a discussion in Bajo Caracoles with some European travellers. They were concerned about a speech by Jeltsin of Russia, threatening with WW3! That discussion took place exactly 19 years ago, and now this event. Amazing coincidence?

On the way to Bystre/Home in Bystre.
You want to hide? On Saturday my car was loaded with laundry from the clinic and bottle tops that are worth money: bags full. Lenka guided me to a hamlet called Bystra, in the middle of the countryside, not far from Medzilaborce. You can reach it only via a horrible road inland. At arrival there, we are met with some young people and a very old grandmother. They are taking in the goods, for washing and for selling. We are presented a large cake in the form of a heart, for the birthday of Maria, Lenka’s aunt in Medzilaborce.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 8-April 14.
Wednesday, the 7th of April, finished at Ea. El Delphin.
I water Jut and Jil, here at the yard, and leave them to find their own way. I am terribly tired and go to bed early.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, the 8th of April. 38th travelling day. Departure from Ea. El Delphin. After a good night sleep, I take my time for maté with Manuel. While I am busy with packing, Manuel is gone. He went to find Jul and Jil. When he is back, we have a good breakfast with meat, maté and torta fritta. The weather is fine: a bit of sun and a cool breeze. Manuel explained me how to go and we part. I still thing it necessary to keep Jut at a lead, but it appears a drag. I find a solution after a lot of experimenting. We make good progress now and I can relax and take time to look around. Again, the road is flat and straight, endless straight. I am riding the ‘meseta de asador’. After this plateau, I see a next one with in between the partly with snow covered mountains of the Andes. Two corpses of foxes, probably, are hung from a fence. Small type Armadillos and Tucu Tucus (looks like a Guinea Pig) are rapidly fleeing when we close in on them. Around half past six, we arrive at the planned destiny: Hotel Rio Olnie. The place is looking neat, placed directly at the roadside. I am met by a friendly gaucho, who presents me a bucket and shows me a tap. Both Jut and Jil empty two buckets of water. The gaucho and Pablo, an 8-y old boy, are curiously following all my moves. Pablo’s lovely grandmother, Raquel, is here to take care for two weeks, while her son is on holiday. When the horses are cared for, I settle inside. There is an enormous bar, with a large variety of goods, but no cigarettes. Again, I have to explain my financial situation, with only $7 cash left. I was already told that a meal would cost me $10. I hand over my $7 to grandma, so now I am without cash. I tell them that I will cook my own, which I do: presto pronto, tin of fish, some salsa, onion and garlic. It tastes fabulous. From where I am cooking, I see Jut and Jil, together with a large white horse, happily grazing. Back in the hotel, I rub my belly to show them I ate. I take a chair underneath the only light to write my diary. I am hardly seated, when they put a plate, fork, serviette and a can of cool water in front of me. The plate is soon loaded with two large schnitzels, mashed potato and freshly backed torta fritta. When I am finished eating I may join them drinking mate. During writing my diary, the generator stops working, so we are in the dark. A gas lamp appears, but writing is no longer possible. Soon, all of us are sitting at the enormous bar, listening to my radio and talking. Grandma allows me to smoke her cigarettes. At 10 everybody goes to bed. I have to find my way in the dark, because the batteries of my lantern are nearly empty and charging is no longer possible. One of the connections to my 12V dry cell battery is broken. On my way to bed, I enjoy the sight of the sky, in absolute silence, impressive, crystal clear. I am feeling tiny but very happy.
Friday, 9th of April, the 39th travelling day. Days are becoming rather short, winter in Argentina. Usually I am up at 5 or 6 and it is then too dark to get started. I might find a way to organize my own 12V light to work with. It’s an idea for later, in a town with shops. The gaucho called me for morning maté and before leaving, at 10, grandma gives me a pack of cigarettes. I am riding Jut today and that requires some adjustments in my body: Jil is riding much more pleasant. Soon, we reach ‘el Rio Olnie’. I see no current and only few water, but sufficient for the horses. Far away I spot 5 horses; they run when we are closing in. The view is, again, amazingly beautiful with hill, flats and to the left the mountain tops with snow, ice-cold glowing in the early morning sun. It is good weather, but after a while I have to dress up again. Very regularly, I find gates in the fences where two corpses of foxes are hung, either fully mummified or some with still some skin on them. It is not very busy on road nr.40: in all there were two cars seen. The last 10 kms are going downhill on a strong winding road. Because I have a clear view, I can take a short cut, avoiding the hairpins. After passing the last gate, before reaching Bajo Caracoles I think, I spot 6 horses not too far away. I don’t know why, but I whistle on my fingers, loud and shrill. I should not have done that. The 6 horses just look while Jil, who was probably trotting asleep on the automatic pilot, reacted alarmed, took a run kicking his hind legs. He is carrying the luggage and that comes of during this action. Fortunately, Jill calms down soon enough, but the whole situation took me half an hour to restore the damage, while the 6 horses are watching quietly from a distance. Just back into the saddle, I spot an armadillo, trying to do as if he is not there. I leave the saddle fast and hunt down the animal. From a distance it must have been an extremely odd view, one man in a ski-overall running around and moving his legs in all directions. I catch the armadillo just when it tried to enter a hole in the ground. I studied the creature for a while avoiding getting urine or crap all over. The poor animal is clearly terrified. I get mounted again and now I see much more of these creatures, but also many objects of interest, like a large stone with beautiful collared crystals and other stones looking like tools or arrow tops. A museum would have been interested I guess. We enter a large valley but I see no village. It is a nice valley, with some sheep, surrounded by high planes, flat ones and round ones, with afar the mountain range silent and sunny. In the distance I see a cloud of moving dust and I move into that direction. Around a hilltop, suddenly I see the village: tiny, not much more then a large farm. An eleven-year-old boy, Daniel, tells me how to get there. The road looks like a snail’s shell and at the bottom lays Bajo Caracoles (translated as: at the bottom of the snail’s shell). This settlement is, in fact, no more then a conglomerate of amenities, like a police station, hotel (annex supermarket and petrol station), a satellite telephone station with sun panels and a large disk antenna, workshop, school etcetera. Furthermore, a simple road structure with public lighting. I park my horses at the hotel. Soon many people are involved in helping me and my horses settle: I get an ice cold Gancia and Jut and Jil are fed and watered. Claudio is the innkeeper. With him I organize myself and, most important, a trip to Perito Moreno. Claudio lends me money to cover for a night in Perito Moreno, from Sunday to Monday. Monday morning the bank is open. After a simple evening meal, I walk around a bit and cuddle Jut and Jil, lazily standing in the shadow of some tress. Daniel tells me that Bajo Caracoles has 48 inhabitants. At 9 in the evening, two generators are started to provide electricity for the settlement. One hour after midnight, the generators are switched off. Before going to bed, I enjoyed a lovely shower.
Saturday, 10th of April. It is a quiet day. A gaucho, Jorge, cares for Jut and Jil (for $30). The of my dry cell battery is arranged for tomorrow. I slept three hours in the afternoon. I am not the only passing stranger. A cycling tourist passes but does not stay: the hotel is too expensive ($20 per night, $3,50 for breakfast and $12 for a hot meal). Everything is expensive here, logical without competition nearby. Other guests are a couple from Munich, worrying about the situation in Kosovo and the suggestions of Jeltsin about a third world war. They are hitchhiking and lucky to find a ride to Perito Moreno. Further two Argentinian couples. The dining room of the hotel is suddenly busy and interesting, with everybody telling their story.
Sunday, 11th of April. Daniël, the 11-y old boy who is interested in everything I do and very active in getting me all I ask, rides Jut for a while. He loves it. After lunch, a cattle lorry with 10 bony cows in the back, leaves for Perito Moreno. A mother with a 1,5-year-old daughter and I, join the driver. Claudio, the hotel owner, gave me $100 to cover for expenses on the way till tomorrow. The truck is extremely slow and so it takes 5 hours to get to Perito Moreno. I had planned to register the road, which I will do later this week with Jut and Jil, but the mother and her daughter are keeping me busy. I miss my video camera, because the beauty of the country side is impossible to cover with a photo camera. The scenery is breath taking, with hills and valleys. Lots of rocks with an enormous variety in colours, red, white, yellow and green. In South Afrika they have their famous ‘Table Mountain’. If you’d ask me, that was exported from Patagonia.
At arrival in Perito Moreno I am dropped at the hotel Belgrano, where I get a room. Other guests are 4 Yankees, loudly bragging about their hunting achievements. They come here indeed for hunting ostrich and guanaco. They are a bit older, but certainly irritating.
Monday. I get $1000 from the bank, no problem. I brought very dirty laundry with me and leave that at a laundrette, to pick it up later this week. I had hoped to find an internet facility but failed. In the telephone shop, they will find out if any private person would be so kind to help me, again later this week when I arrive on horseback. After having bought some food, I walk a bit in the direction of Bajo Caracoles (129km from here) and install myself against a heap of gravel, knowing that I may have to wait a long time for someone to take me to back. It is certainly autumn now; the wind is fierce and bleak. After a long wait, I give up and go back to the hotel. The hotel owner organises my return, with a line-bus that leaves at 5 o’clock in the morning. This bus goes on Tuesday and Thursday, from North to South and back again. It appears the only but functional public transport for gaucho’s and traders.
Tuesday, 13th April. 40th travel day. The bus to Bajo Caracoles appears to be a Ford Ranchero with a 7 passengers capacity. The driver is pleasant, talking and driving fast. Today he brings some goods do Claudio, a disk antenna and me. It is 5 o’clock. I have never seen the moon so clearly covered by our own planet. On the way I spot lots of Mara (large hare) and foxes. It is stormy, but not cold. Above the mountain range I see lightning. We arrive at 07:15 at Bajo Caracoles: fare was $12, not much for 125 kisses. It is still pitch dark in the kitchen, where an unknown fellow unloads the goods from the bus. Electricity is on at 9, so I work by the light of a candle, go to my room and sleep one hour. After that I prepare for my departure, no matter the advice from Claudio to leave tomorrow morning early, with a better weather forecast. I turn it down and leave around midday, for a 49km trip to Casa de Piedras. On the way, I find water for the horses. The scenery appears not to change for a long time, due to the fastness of the plane I ride. I feel well, apart from having cold feet. Road workers tell me that I am still 30 km to go, but then I come across a sign that tells me 10km to Casa de Piedras. Daylight is already gone and there is no moon. Following the road without any light is a bit difficult. I arrive at 9 o’clock. Dogs are barking at the yard. I see a light and after some calling, a lantern appears, carefully approaching. I light a cigarette in order to show my face to the person with the lantern. The light is now approaching a bit steadier, carried by a tiny wrinkled man. He is amazed, surprised, but when seen to be trusted, he invites me in. After settling the horses in a corral with enough food and water, he leads me to a place where I can sleep: a stone building with only three walls. When done with the installation, the little man invites me to his living, where I get food and where I can warm my feet. After the meal and telling my story, we go to bed at 23 o’clock. I travelled 49 kms today, in 9 hours: not bad at all.
Wednesday, 14th April, 41th travelling day. It was a very cold night and my feet are frozen. At 8 I am up, packing and saddling the horses. When that is done, I see my host, where 3 other guys are drinking mate. I join them. After some storytelling, I leave at 10. When we come across a pool with water, Jut and Jil crack the ice on it and drink a lot. The terrain is difficult, nowhere it is even and it is littered with sharp black and very hard lava. Jil sprained one foot and after that we go even slower. The scenery is otherwise absolutely beautiful, with the multi coloured mountains nearby. At 4 I arrive at Ea. La Palomina.

web wk15-Province Santa Cruz Road to El Palomina.

There are horses, but no humans around. I install myself in a large barn, provisionally closed with a board. Two bales of hay are laying there and I give some of it to Jil, but the local horse fights Jil off. Jut and Jil are otherwise well off, with sufficient juicy grass and water. I cook my meal: rice, garlic and fish. I fork out my candles from my luggage for the first time: they appear to be mashed to only fuses and loose rubble of tallow. I manage to make a little fire with it. At 9 I make bed, with my feet packed in a horse blanket and the lot packed in a large plastic bag. That functions: my feet are warm in no time. I fall asleep fast, after these awkward 39kms.

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Week 14-2018. Humenné/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 1-April 7.

Blessing of the Easter food (2) Blessing of the Easter food.
Easter Sunday, in the Eastern European countries, have a tradition of going to church with a basket of food. A priest will then bless the food in a ritual. I wanted to experience this ritual, so I was up very early and joined Helena who went with another woman from her flat. At 07:30, the church was filled with mostly women and some men and some children. With the people, the church was also filled with the very distinct smell of cooked ham. The baskets were placed along a line in church, so as to allow a priest to spray it with blessing and holy water. Behind the first priest came a second one with swaying a container with smoky incense. Behind this smoky container came altar boys, with watery eyes from the smoke. It is a short ceremony, after which everybody goes home to prepare for the mutual breakfast. After the arrival of Lenka, Maria and Hana, we have breakfast at Lenka’s parents, in the next-door apartment. Later that day, we also share lunch there, after which we leave for our own living quarters and take a nap. Going out is no option today: the weather is not good enough: it is raining and rather cold as well. I get an interesting phone call, from a friend who booked a trip in Argentina, on horseback. He is over the moon from excitement and promises to send pictures later this week.

Brouwerij café Brewery  café.
Monday is a very silent day in town. The weather is again not very nice. Most people stay at home at this bank holiday. I join Lenka and Stanka at the veterinarian clinic, walk with four dogs. The work at the clinic is done early. The weather has improved, so I go for a good walk around town. I visit a beer brewery, where I have a very nice local beer.

Paas versiering Easter show.
On Tuesday I am asked to do some shopping for my friend Lenka. I do that every now and then during the week, allowing her to continue her job as a vet and earn money.
Several times this week, I am asked to transfer dogs to and from the gipsy town at the outskirts of Humenné.

Gipsy woonoord Gipsy quarter.

Lenka and her organisation are, as a matter of fact, trying to sterilize all the bitches there. The gypsies themselves don’t care to carry one of their dogs into a bench. They point at a bitch and Stanka can try to catch is.

Opereren (3) Sterilisation of a pregnant dog.

There are some exceptions. In this settlement a number of gypsies are dressed in yellow smocks: they are appointed assisting the local police here. These assistants sometimes do help and even bring a caught dog to the clinic. Lenka does not get paid for this work but is determent to carry it through.

Puppies (3) Puppies.

Zwerfhond genaamd 'Happy' (2) Stray bitch ‘Happy’.

On Saturday I help cleaning the outdoor sheds for dogs and cats. With a volunteer I go to a shop where they sell linoleum. This linoleum will, next week, be placed onto the wooden planks from the outdoor quarters. This is a good plan: good for hygiene and easier to clean.

Luba maakt schoon Cleaning the outdoor cages.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 1-April 7.

Argentina start foto
Wednesday, 31st March. Est. Siberia; I am shown a place to erect my tent and a place for Jut and Jil.
Thursday, 1st of April. The 32nd travelling day. I am up late, but that is okay, because I planned for today a trip of only 23 kms to crossroads on the map. We drive nearly all day in trot. The road is straight and even. A long time I have a view on Lago Viedma but then we turn off, onto higher grounds. There is nothing here, no tree, no pole, no stones: only very dry, tough and prickly desert vegetation. In the afternoon, I notice a large black front of cloud coming my way from behind. Just when I reach my destiny at the crossroads, it is raining. I get soaking wet during setting up camp. Relatively many cars pass here, from Gobernador Costa. Logical, because tomorrow is ‘Good Friday’. Many people will have a couple of days off and spent time at the lakes like Lago Cardiel. Most cars slow down, look, wave but don’t stop for a chat. The position here is a bit awkward for Jut and Jil, but I suppose they will manage. I just hope to have them in sight tomorrow morning.
Friday, 2nd April. Good Friday. I am up and feeling very well, at 5 o’clock. By the light of the moon, I take breakfast and pack. The sky is half covered, it is only cold but not too much. Jut and Jil are standing close to the tent and stay put, during packing and saddling. A car with an older couple stops for a chat. The vegetation changed again. Now there are fresh light green bumps, inviting to sit on: don’t do it, because the closely set short prickles are razor sharp and hard. Others however appear soft like broccoli. Between the bumps there are stones, stones and only stones. It is difficult ground for the horses. At 4 o’clock I nearly miss the turn off for Ea La Palomina. Signs on the road give another possibility: Ea. La Angostura. I take that direction. There appears to be water, because Jil smells it and heads immediately into that direction. Both Jut and Jil drink like they had no water for weeks. I hear voices nearby and come to a beautiful green valley, full with animals, horses, cows, tame guanaco’s, cats, geese, and ducks. The people I heard are busy training dogs. The estancia is again one of the agri types. This one however, with very good accommodation and installations, is guarded the whole year. The season for tourism is short, only from November through March 5 months. I am met by Claudia and Luis, temporarily here for the Easter weekend. They provide me with a cottage with 4 beds and a simple but good meal. The couple running this agri estancia did arrive as well. We talk a lot, in the living room during our meal with red wine. I am allowed this service, because I am special: travelling by horse. The discussion tonight is much about the neglect from the government for Patagonia, where life is hard and the wool is hardly worth trading. It was a nice evening, after a very good travelling day.
Saturday. For today I was advised to ride to Ea. La Verde, 29 kms away. This farm is still occupied, while others on the way are already closed for winter. 80% of the road is flat and straight, the rest is going down from the high plane, into a valley. To the left I see many trees but no buildings yet. At the last fence I dismount to open the gate: Jil takes a run uphill along the fence, because he is thirsty and did smell water. It cost me half an hour to get hold of him, when he stops, wondering because the water is at the other side of the fence. I tell him off, and I think he knows why. Through the gate I guide them towards a stream where they drink a lot. Then we go looking for life. After a bend through the trees, I find a large open field with low stone buildings. Soon the dogs appear and not one, but three gauchos. They are pleased to allow me to stay until Monday. I get a bed in the house where they reside. The horses are well cared for, with plenty food, water and a meadow to stroll freely. We drink maté while dinner is prepared. Two large crates, one with apples and pears, the other with ‘torta fritta’, are for general use at will. I have no more cigarettes. One of the gaucho’s smokes: cigarettes but also hand rolled. I use it as few as I can, because one of my objectives for this journey was to try stop smoking and minimize drinking coffee. We share stories and have a pleasant evening. When I go to bed, the three men follow soon.
Easter Sunday. During the night a storm with hail hit the area. I am lucky to have slept indoor. The three men leave. They repair fences and deal with the damage done by puma’s. Herds are spread and some animals, on average 5 sheep per day, are hurt to bad. These are killed and slaughtered. After slaughter they are packed in a bag and hung high on a branch of one of the trees. The meat stays good for weeks there. I look for my horses. At first, I find 16 horses and a bit later I see Jut, standing with Jil laying down at his feet. I pat them, talk to them and leave them in peace. I am quietly spending time with drinking maté, reading Bible and writing my diary. It hailed again, with a lot of wind. An hour later, the sun is shining, which makes it a bit more comfortable, but the temperature is low. All three gauchos are back around six o’clock. They prepare diner and we eat talking and telling tales. With two of them, I play a card game, quickly learned. The third gaucho listens to music from tapes. He goes out to the toilet. On return he slams the door causing a young cat to scream terribly: the cat just put his paws in the door opening when it got shut. Everybody is going to bed early: the sky is clear, so it will be a cold night.
Easter Monday, the 35th travel day. The horses, all horses, where out of the paddock and around the house all night. I heard them all the time, which disturbed my deep sleep. The gauchos are at work, every day they are up at 7, wash, get their horses, eat and drink maté. Then they leave. Cipriano, one of the gaucho’s fastened Jut and Jil to a bar. I placed my luggage against the fence outside the paddock. That was a bad idea. During breakfast the dogs pissed all over it. Free standing water is frozen solid. José gave me a pack of cigarettes. When I am ready to go, it is 09:45. I leave $20 at the table. I cross Rio Chico to Reita. The weather is bad, so I put on my raincoat. It does not rain, but it keeps me warm from the cold wind and the hood prevents my ear from blowing off my head. I need new gloves, the pair I have are totally worn. The road to Ea. Silvana is straight like a ruler and flat. The land is a desert, with many holes made by pitche or mice. It is hazardous for the horses: they can break a leg when they get into such a hole to deep. The road is really boring and I wonder, but every day in company with Jut and Jil, and every day another goal, keeps it exciting enough. Every sign of human life is a treat now and even assessing the age of horse droppings becomes an interesting thing. Less funny is the fact that the horizon refuses to change. All of a sudden however, I spot Ea. Silvana. I see a horse as well, so the Ea. Is inhabited. At the yard with a cosy looking house and nice lanterns around, I find chicken, an ostrich, cats and turkeys. The horse is licking Jil’s neck over the fence. At another miniscule cottage, I see laundry spread to dry over the bushes. The curtains of the cottage are closed. When I knock on the door, a small dog barks and not much later a sleepy voice is heard. The ‘home gaucho’, Juan Maradonna, approximately 60 years old, opens up and appears very hospitable. In his house it is a terrible mess and its dirty. Three young cats and a young dog live there as well and I may stay and sleep there also. Juan cleans the floor a bit, for my sleeping bag: Juan, I guess, is slightly senile: he tells me not to be to happy with his life as it is. One of the reasons appears to be, that all of his batteries are down, so he can not listen to the radio and his lantern is now useless as well. I give his little dog a name: Casserole. Juan is so pleased that he repeats the name over and over again. He makes dinner with eggs, chicken and bread, completed with red wine. It is simple but sufficient and tasty. There is little to talk in the evening, nearly dark with only a smoky oil lamp. Juan serves me a large cup of too strong Nescafé with sugar. To my surprise, I like it. I believe that Juan is sometimes silently crying. It is pretty sad. His boss, the patron, is expected to arrive on Thursday, with batteries and other necessities. They bread horses and sheep. Around 10 o’clock Juan comes with some sort of a mattress, more a big bag filled with wool, for me to sleep on. The bag is too short for me and it smells of urine. I nevertheless fall in a deep and satisfactory sleep.
Tuesday, 36th travel day. I was awake too early to my liking, so I stayed in my warm bag for a while and slept a couple of times more. Juan makes breakfast: maté, wine, bread and backed eggs. It tastes very well and it is a lot. When I leave, Juan gives me a pear and I give him $10 because I feel very sorry for him. When I leave, he does not look at me and I am sure he is crying again. Around midday the wind again becomes strong, cold and from straight in front. Afar I see the mountaintops with lots of snow. The road is again like a ruler, and not easy, with large amounts of boulders. We arrive at Tamel Aike were we find plenty food and water. This is some sort of an A.A. station for the province: roomy, clean, attended by one person with radio. He proposes me to stay for the night, which I don’t do. I planned to go today to Las Horquetas, where we arrive just after 4 o’clock. This settlement is much like Rio Bote: hotel, restaurant, café and repair facility for cars. I am welcomed and even after I told the boss that I don’t have any cash left, he stays friendly. It is no surprise that my credit card does not help here and travel cheques are something they have never heard of. Construction workers are busy here. A Swiss couple is hitchhiking North and they get away, which is a surprise. There is one dog. The place looks better than Rio Bote but lays totally unprotected along the road. Jut and Jil broke their rope and are standing free but stay around the settlement. I enjoy diner with the boss, his pretty wife and a gaucho. There is schnitzel, mashed potatoes, bread and a large bowl with salat, red and white wine. It is a joyful occasion. Two men arrive somewhat later, with two hares. These hares are skinned straight in front of my accommodation. Jut and Jil are nowhere to be seen and after some deliberation, with the boss, I leave it as it is. They won’t go far is the prediction and looking for them now is hardly wise: it is pitch dark, no moon. When in bed for 10 minutes, I hear Jut and Jil. Two workmen went, with lanterns to look for them. They are now fixed to a pole, with nothing to eat or drink. I don’t like it and sleep therefor uneasy.
Wednesday, 7th of April. The 37th travelling day.
Jut and Jil are given water and we leave around 10. It is cold and the wind is strong. The sky is totally open. As soon as we leave the Chico valley, the wind comes from behind, is less strong and a bit warmer. I find many fences without a gate, which forces me to take the fences down and walk over them. Jut is easy but Jil is always scared to do this. I get the impression of a fata morgana, through reflection of the sun from the millions of very flat and closely packed smooth stones. After a tiring and long ride, I suddenly spot the set of trees usually standing around a settlement or estancia, still at a fair distance. When we arrive all three of us are soaking wet from sweat. At arrival we find a horse, many chickens and cats. After calling a while, dogs appear and with them a healthy round gaucho: Manuel Perez Andare. He is joyful, noisy, and cordial hospitable. He produces a box full with relics: photo’s, letters, cards from many passers-by, mainly cyclists, but also from a German who passed in 1995 with three horses. I have heard of this type before. I was presented a terrific meal. Manuel is owner of this place, with 1300 sheep. I get a bed. Manuel saddles his horse to take Jut and Jil to a position where they have sufficient grass and water.
Jut and Jil follow him for a while, but they all of a sudden decide to return to where they know me to be. So, I water them here at the yard and leave them to find their own way. I am terribly tired and go to bed early.

web wk14-Province Santa Cruz Progress till 7th April 1999

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Week 13-2018. Amersfoort-Humenné/Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 25-March 31.

It is summertime, meteorologically. The clock was set one hour in advance, so last night was a short one. I met my friend Hanke in church. As usual, I drove her home, where we enjoyed coffee and the company of her dog Toets. After that I went to Eemnes, to watch the first Formula 1 race of this season, with Kenneth. I heard from the radio already the results, while Kenneth was still unaware of it. So, I had to play innocence. The race did not give much sensation and no unexpected results either. During the race we had lunch. After the race, I travelled on to Leiden, to see my family there and discuss certain private matters. My sister was attending a cooking workshop with her son, so I had dinner there with my brother in law and a long-time friend.

Nachtegaallaan The ditch of my childhood.
On Monday, I quietly packed my car. I finished my income-tax return. After some more shopping, I left Amersfoort around two o’clock. A quarter of an hour on the way, a radio bulletin informed me about an accident on the road where I had to go. The traffic jam resulting from it, cost me one hour extra. Driving on a bypass I saw what caused the problem: a large bulk carrier on its side blocked the complete highway. After that, I had only one further delay: In Germany, near Bautzen at the A4, I was ordered to follow a customs car to a petrol station.

Duitsland 1e stop Stop in Germany.

I was on my way to that patrol station anyway, but it annoyed me nevertheless. They examined my car, obviously looking for drugs. I carry a blue linen bag with me, filled with anything to do with body- and health care. The searching female picked a casket carefully handing it to me, with the request to open it. The content is floss, to clean between one’s teeth. I told them: you may keep it, because I don’t have any teeth left. She was not amused.
Somewhere in Poland, around three o’clock at night, my back started aching and I got tired. So, at a patrol stations parking, I made up my bed and went asleep. For approximately three hours I slept, not very deep however. When I went on my way again it rained with wet snow as well. I was praying that it would not start really snowing, but I did not expect it to. After Krakow, the TomTom sent me off the E40, into the country.

Polen landschap (3) South-East Poland country side.

From there onwards, the speed of travelling was considerably reduced. I have done this trip before and I recognised various views as well. Entering Slovakia was undisturbed.

Slowakije landschap (1) Slovakia country side.

Around eleven I arrived at my destiny in Humenné. After the logical welcoming ceremony, I went to the apartment, unpacked my car and went to bed for a couple of hours. In the evening I walked into town to find it virtually dead. Fortunately, the one café I know was open. This café is really ideal: they serve a terrific pizza, good beer, soccer on a wide screen and an ashtray to smoke. This is what I like: old fashioned. After having eaten most of the pizza, it is much to much for me, and after watching some soccer games, I went back to the apartment and to bed.
I slept like a log for 12 hours. On Wednesday morning around eleven I was up and done with my daily early morning ritual.

Uitzicht in Humenné My early morning view.

It is a splendid day, blue sky, no wind. In the clinic they are busy with 4 dogs, three puppies, a pigeon and 4 cats. I am asked to walk the dogs and the puppies, which I do like a lot. walking the

Puppies (1) Walking the puppies.

At Tesco’s I do some shopping and revalue the credit on my cell-phone. I am invited to have supper with Ivan and Helena, parents of my friend Lenka.
On Thursday, they call it Green Thursday here, Christians are supposed to eat ‘green’ without meat. Fish is okay and so are eggs. Shops are open but busy, because tomorrow is ‘Big Friday’ and many people have 4 days of, with shops only open on Saturday. I did the shopping for my friend Lenka, at ease: I had plenty of time. Asking to staff, for items I cannot find, is always a rather funny thing: the youngest of the staff are usually the ones to approach for their knowledge of English.
Friday went by, with a busy morning at the clinic. The children are on holiday, that is clear. They arrive before opening hours, to be the first to walk one of the four dogs or to play with the puppies. A stray cat is brought in, from a town 30 kms away. The animal is being registered here, including a picture from an instant camera. Half an hour later this cat is sleeping off his sedation: he is now castrated.

Lenka en assistende Stanka steriliseren kater (1) Castration of a stray cat.

It is nice to see how fast and secure Lenka and her assistant work. Around midday the clinic is closed for today. Later in the afternoon, I am informed that my friend is on her way, with her daughter and aunt. We meet at Ivan’s place for coffee and talk. After that we go to the flat where I reside for something to eat: home-made salad and cookies. Lenka, aunt and daughter leave for home in Medzilaborce after a while. I spend the evening watching TV.
On Saturday I am up in time to go to the clinic and later go to Tesco’s for some shopping. In the afternoon I go to Medzilaborce, to see about pruning the fruit trees there. I examined the fruit trees: they are dead.

Begraafplaats Medzilaborce Medzilaborce cemetary.

Next week I am remove them completely. We had a joyful afternoon, with spaghetti and sausages. Hana, Lenka’s daughter is taking much of my attention.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 25-March 31.

Argentina start foto

Wednesday the 24th ended with an invitation to have supper with the three ladies running this hotel/café/restaurant in summer. In winter it closes down, which is now: Next week they are leaving.
Daylight comes around 7 o’clock. To the bathroom I have to go outside, then through the kitchen where Ana is having mate by candle light. I join her for a while. The land is white from frost. I carry on preparations to leave. We have breakfast with good coffee. The bill for everything is $10, I pay them $20. I feel well treated, satisfied and grateful for it. I am riding Jut for the first time, which feels good. It is beautiful weather, a few clouds cover the sky, wind is only light. Jil, carrying the luggage, is not to happy with it. The road is rather awkward with lots of cobble stones. Near Punta del Lago I steer into the dunes and onto the stony beach. It is difficult for Jut and Jil to deal with this loose packed gravel but when we reach the water, the horses can drink which they do. Back on the road and after the turn to El Chalten I planned to do another 10km, but Jil is not going so I stop, at half past five, in the middle of nowhere at a huge plane. Far away I can spot the planned destiny. I set up my tent, but I cannot use the tent pins: its either too loose sand or large stones. There is no wind: total silence. I hear my cigarette burning, nothing else. Every now and then I hear a horse’s tail sweep. After a meal of Presto Pronto it is dark and I go asleep.
Friday the 26th March, the 28th travelling day. Some time ago I knew that I would never reach Venezuela at this pace: I don’t care. I just travel, taking what is coming. I slept until 3 at night, ate a bar of nougat (Turron), drank some water and smoked. After that I went back to sleep. When I am having breakfast and packed the horses, I am watched by a curious silver fox. Jil is again holding back, so I leave him on his own and ride behind him, actually kind of chasing him into the right direction. Near Tres Lagos there are trenches dug and rows of trees planted. Jul and Jil together hurry into a trench where they drink a lot. I come to a petrol station where I buy and drink a beer. In Tres Lagos I intend to stay for the weekend, until Monday. I get help from all sides now. Many of the inhabitants know me, from Rio Bote and from ‘the road’. I shake hands a lot and have to tell more about this adventure: all of it. On of them drills for water, for everybody who pays. The water is found at 100 meters deep. No wonder this is a desert with only yellowish dry shrubbery. Nearly all the livings, one can hardly call them houses, have a disk antenna and very good television. The whole town seems to be kept together with steel wire, wood of all sorts and corrugated steel plates. I reside at the one and only ‘hotel de ville’. Most of the time however I am the guest of Sr.Barres and his wife. She rings a couple of people and ten minutes later a car arrives with food for my horses. Payment is not accepted. I turn a meal down, because I had a good meal at the hotel. They are eating horse meat with ‘torta frita’. Torta frita is flower with some salt, a hundred times thrown up and down, kneaded and finally rolled out until the mass is half a millimetre thick, then folded once and cut into pieces. Those pieces are cooked in sheep’s vet, they blow up like a tiny balloon. The backing smells very well and these tiny balloons are taken for food on the way across their endless estates: they can be kept for many days without getting bad.
I am very busy with the maintenance of my horses on Saturday. First, I went to buy fruit in the only store they have. In the shadow of one of the few trees, I sit down and enjoy the fruit, when a young woman arrives by car. She takes me to my horses. Three youngsters and the horse-food provider arrived. These men are treating Jil with new irons, on all legs. They also tell me that Jil does have some problems, like a sore back and an inflamed wound just above his hoof left aft. They give me clear instructions how to deal with these problems. Both Jut and Jil were behaving exemplary during the treatment, I rewarded them with some extra food. The men and I go to the bar for a drink, where I want to know what I have to pay them: they refuse payment. The food supplier promises me to mark a place along the road for Monday, where I will find water and a good place for camping. The evening falls, with splendid coloured clouds. I ride Jut and Jil, without saddle or mouth piece, just a piece of rope onto their head-set. I go to the river to allow them to drink. Jut reacts a bit surprised, riding without a saddle. They both take it very well, even in trot it is no problem at all. Back at the hotel I go to bed, totally happy.
Sunday morning. The sky is grey, no wind. During the night it rained a lot. The locals are very happy with it. The silence is rarely disturbed by one of the rattling cars they possess. These cars are really something: no lights, sometimes no brakes, broken windows, bumps everywhere. The only thing that matters to them is: does the machine go. Police does not look at anything, only when there is an argument. The car from my food provider consists of an engine, wheels with worn tires and bodywork without only one switch: to switch on or off. In the sickbay, it is neither hospital nor pharmacy but its all they have here, I meet again the young woman, who picked me up yesterday. I need things to treat the wound on Jil’s leg. I get everything I need, again, free of charge. I donate $10 in the box for donations. In the evening, in the hotel, I listen to my radio: world broadcast in Dutch.
Monday, 29th March. Jut and Jil broke out of their confined area, after having stolen the rest of their food. I find them back, 100 meters away from my hotel, quietly grazing. I take my time for breakfast and packing. The youngsters who treated jil came along to say good bye. They show me the way: into the wild country a long way along a fence, and then I will hit road 40 again. Oh wonder: it appears to work well. It is warm, few wind only and we proceed very well, I think, because there is no way measuring my progress: gravel, coble stones, rocks and again the same. Depending on the terrain, we go in trot. Early in the evening I spot a heap of gravel with some sort of a wooden fencing. Jut just walks straight through it, where Jil is always a bit nervous about fences. I erected my tent, thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful purple and blue sky and the silence. Nightfall goes fast, so I have to cook my meal in the dark, with the help of a clear full moon. It surprises me, that my self-made meals are tasting so good. My ribs are by now feeling nearly normal, so my attention is now drawn towards muscles aching in my back. I wonder, will I ever overcome that situation? Today I saw, from afar, 6 cars, no animals at all and even no birds.
Tuesday, 30th of March. At 7 in the morning I have breakfast. It is still dark, very clear, very cold and totally silent. No sound to hear. Condensed breath is dripping into my tent and the land around me is frozen white. We are underway early and both Jut and Jil are going very well. I don’t have to use the rope from the headset, I don’t use reigns or bit. I don’t even have to guide and have both hands free to study my map. I have no idea how far I am and how far we still have to go today. We come to a stream with crystal clear water. This must be the stream as given by my friends in Tres Lagos. This means that I still have to go ~24 km to estancia La Lucia. Soon however, I come to a confined area with 6 horses and two groups of 10 guanaco’s each. That’s why I expect to be close to La Lucia and that appears to be the case. We reach La Lucia at 4 in the afternoon: it’s an oasis with healthy green grass and with people. La Lucia appears to be a place for so called ‘agritourism’. So, I hire accommodation for $15. Within two weeks, the staff will close the facility for winter. At first the staff is a bit at a distance, until they learn that I am Dutch. Then they relax and we have an enjoyable evening. I have seen this before: Argentinians don’t like the English, because of the Falklands war.
Wednesday, 31st March. 31st travelling day. It is again a beautiful day. I travel in T-shirt, because my overall is much to warm now. The surface is dreadful, loose stones and Vulcanic material, black and sharp. I have the idea that we go slow, probably because of the terrible terrain. For the first time I spot a herd of cows. The first sign of their presence was a dead one, crumbled in the bushes. After numerous heaps of stone, we come into flat lands with grass again in the afternoon. We come across a herd of 30 horses many with foals. They follow us for a while and that is very funny, a running herd beside you. I was told what to expect on my way to estancia Siberia which gave me a fair idea of my progress. I get a view of Lago Cardiel, deep blue, dead silent and cold. Siberia is again one of the Agro tourism places. Tourism is their only source of income. The only person present is an old and very grumpy person, busy burning the last debris. I am not invited inside. Later I learn why: he is closing down and leaving tomorrow. So, I should not have arrived here one day later. I am shown a place to erect my tent and a place for Jut and Jil.

web wk13-Province Santa Cruz

Progress in Santa Cruz Province

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Week 12-2018. Amersfoort.

The Sunday was different this time. My friend Hanke and my family in Eemnes were busy with alternative activities, so after church I returned home and stayed there. I feel it very well: my body is working hard to restore damage; it consumes much of my energy. After lunch, I lay down for a nap but I don’t get a chance. The R.S.C.P.A rings and asks me to bring a rabbit to Amsterdam. I turn it down, because of physical situation. Minutes later I get three other phone calls and after those, I don’t feel like having a nap anymore. I do my laundry instead.

van Beek camper (5) Camper 41y old, for sale.
On Monday, I travel to Ridderkerk where I celebrate the 81st birthday of my sister. A group of 8 children with their escort come to the door with flowers for my sister, who used to read for them for many years. The children sing a song and get a treat: it’s a funny situation, lovely old fashioned.

Mo, Fernandez and me (3) Me, with Mo and Fernandez.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are filled with issues around the elections for new local authorities. Some inhabitants of the IJselberch are rather disorganised: cooking steak at 3 o’clock at night, not sleeping in their apartment but on a couch in the mutual living room. On Thursday the R.S.C.P.A. rings: they did receive some 115 mice and these have to be distributed to other sanctuaries around the country. It appeals to me, so I offer my services. One of the young inhabitants is clearly bored with his day. I ask him if he likes to come with me. He is delighted and we go pick up 7 baskets with assorted mice: all white, male, pregnant females and even a litter of ~12 tiny babies.

Stichting Pettings Rotterdam (4) Mice with litter. Who is the mother, that is the question.

With instructions like addresses, names and telephone numbers, we are on our way. Given times are impossible to meet, we end up in the rush hour. Here, my idea to take someone with me is paying out: he can ring the sanctuaries where we have to be, to tell them when we are due to arrive. Like this, we manage to deliver the mice to Rijswijk (The Hague), to Ridderkerk and to Rotterdam. Halfway the evening, we are back home, satisfied with our trip.
On Friday, I return the empty mice-carriers. I knew that a number of mice were to be taken to IJmuiden. And indeed, I could go with again 5 boxes of mice. On the way, I ended up in a traffic jam which cost me one hour extra travelling time. It was nevertheless an interesting trip, because I don’t go that way often. It must have been at least 15 years ago that I was in this area, near the steel plant of Tatra and the sea-sluices at the Noordzee canal.

Noordzee kanaal (2)
Back at home, I saw the Dutch soccer team lose their match to England. I was rather disappointed with the performance of the Dutch team: they played without drive or conviction.
Saturday was a quiet day: some shopping, some messages, contacted a friend in Ukraine. From my car I replaced a front light. Late in the evening, a long-time guest appeared and told me about his adventures (medicals). I prepared for bed, knowing that during the night, the clock was going 1 hour advanced: summer time.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 18-March 24.

Argentina start fotoTo be continued.
Wednesday the 17th I worked on my luggage and storage on my horse. The small dog from the hostel is pinching my stuff and taking it to a variety of hide-outs. The stinging midgets are back again, so we expect nice weather again.
On Thursday the 18th I am again busy with the pack-saddle. I travel up and down to El Calafate for glue and other materials. The same on Friday the 19th. By now, people know and recognise me, in El Calafate and on the road to Rio Bote. It gives me a feeling like being at home. Most of the people want to talk and offer help for my pack-saddle activity. In hotel, restaurant and bar I am usually treated as a guest: I am not allowed to pay for my consumptions. After many trials and errors, the pack-saddle is satisfactory functioning during a trial ride on Saturday. It makes me feel happy. I pack and unpack a couple of times. Doing so, I produce a protocol: first this, then that, etcetera. From time to time, when fully packed, I make a trip through the area, cross country including passage of the river. After a whole day of hard work, I am satisfied and take a day off: no work.
On Sunday, I just rest. Walking with Jut and Jil. They don’t need a lead and just follow me: they rely on me. They are happy to move, because the clouds of midgets are back again. In the hostel I notice some aggravation from Juan and Lili, the owners. They are fed up with people just coming in for hot water, for their mate, for use of the toilet or for some other facility without spending one cent on drinks or food. At a certain moment Juan just closes the door when he sees them coming or just refuses them the use of the requested facility. My friend Oscar, who provided me with a new horse, also came, with his mother. He inspects what I did and he is confident that the pack-saddle will function properly.

22-03-99 Juan en Lilian van hostel Rio Bote Rio Bote, Juan and Lilian.
On Monday the 22nd of March, I pack, enjoy breakfast and start my 24nd travelling day. I leave a lot of materials of which Juan is happy. At 11:15 o’clock I am on the road and away, with all the best wishes from the inhabitants of Rio Bote. First, I go into the direction of El Calafate. At Charles Fuhr, Puente Diggieri, I turn to the right hitting route 40. I have to pass a cattle grid. Jil does not like that, but he follows me nearly pushing me off my feet. This road is a dirt track, no asphalt. It is totally silent here: I enter the desert of Patagonia. I come across the next river, rio Santa Cruz, again with a cattle grid, but this time there is a gate in the fence at the side of it. This is the usual set up: endless fences, cattle grid and a small gate which you are supposed to close properly after passage. When I come to some buildings, I decide to stop for today. The building is an uninhabited demolition site, the other is a shed.

23-03-99 vanaf Charles Fuhr, Puente Diggieri At Puente Diggieri.

Two roadworkers are residing there. These two are working with a machine (a ‘moto nevelladora’) along this unsurfaced road to keep it even and sort of firm. Two cyclists arrive: an American and a man from Switzerland. They started, unaware of each other, from Alaska through Bolivia. At the border with Argentina they met and now continue together unto Ushuaia. I spend the evening with the two roadworkers, Roberto and Damian, in their shed drinking wine and mate. Outside it is getting cold: summer is clearly over, autumn did arrive. The sky is a splendid light blue with a violet glare. I sleep in my tent.
Tuesday 23rd March. When I get out of my tent, I see Jut. Jil is nowhere to be seen. I find Jil, standing patiently in the ice-cold water of the fast running water from the Rio Santa Cruz. Jil must have gone too close to the bank and went down with a wedge of soil from the high bank. He is thankful when I guide him out of the water. After breakfast, with the rest of my evening meal, we depart around eleven and walk, from pte Charles Fuhr to pte Diggieri where we arrive cross country, through rolling country and many fences to pass. It is a difficult trip, ~40 kilometres. In the dark, it is 21:00 o’clock, we arrive at Ea. Irene. Jut was difficult to motivate, but Jil did do very well. At the estancia I see no light, but after a knock at a window, a tiny Chilean gaucho appears. He helps me unsaddling and brings me to another building with a bedroom and 4 beds. He provides me with hot soup, mate, warmth and company. After a short while I go to bed. My whole body is aching. I fall asleep like a log.
Wednesday 24th March, 26th travelling day.
I planned to start riding early, but that plan failed. The gaucho told me about his job, while we enjoyed breakfast with warm meat, coffee, mate and asado with bread. The gaucho is sometimes here and otherwise in another corner of the estate: 100km away! Ea. Irene appears to be well kept, some brickwork houses, 4 dogs and twenty horses. The plan for today is to reach La Leone. Around midday I depart, following the river La Leone through a beautiful valley, river on my right and far away the mountains with snow at my left. The various rock formations are colourful. I see a variety of animals, like guanaco, white heron and armadillas. Both Jut and Jil are working happily together, so we make good progress. We arrive at hostel La Leone. The first person I see appears to be a woman with a raucous voice. With two other women she runs this hostel, annex halfway stop for buses with tourists from El Chalten. The whole setting is worn out, derelict, sheds without door or windows and a neglected kitchen garden.
The boss, with the raucous voice, originates from Finland. The second female is Anna her daughter (30). The third female is further of unknown origin and age. Anna lights the fire. Inside the lounge it is cosy. This hostel is closing next week. Mother and daughter go to El Calafate for the winter. Again, like in the hostel of Rio Bote, buses come, stop, unload passengers who go to the toilet and leave again without consuming anything. Anna reacts with Chou, muchas gracias, de nada. It is getting dark and the pressure lamp growls. I stay for the night. The bed is not really comfortable, a deep gully in the middle. I am asked to join the three women in their kitchen, where we enjoy a hot meal and drink coffee. I don’t stay late, because I want to continue early, tomorrow morning.

 

 

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Week 11-2018. New York-Amersfoort.

Mijn billen (1) My damaged back two days after the event.
With Danuta I visited the Salem church, with an interesting sermon from the pastor John Welborn. Back at home, Danuta made pancakes the American way: very nice with cheese and/or jam. In the afternoon, Danuta tries to work on her desktop computer, but the connection with Internet does not work. Even with the help of external organisations, the connection cannot be made, so she shuts down. We went to see a friend, Joan. The three of us went to a pizzeria where we enjoyed a good meal. After that and back at Joan’s place, we watched two programmes: ‘The Kennedys’ and ‘The Pope’. I learned a couple of things from it.
On Monday morning, I sent an e-mail to my GP for advice regarding my damaged back. A picture, taken by Danuta, completed the request for advice. After that, we took the desktop computer and went to a shop called ‘BestBuy’. There Danuta heard that she had to leave her computer there until Friday. Danuta talked about a laptop there, and I responded in advising her to buy a simple laptop. With a laptop she does have a backup system to continue her professional activities any time and everywhere. So, she bought a laptop. The preparation of the laptop to suit her demands, would take till later today. We left for the beach of Raritan Bay, with the tools to try and retrieve the two bronze items from the shipwrecks deck.

Steen aan strand Stone at the beach.

We managed to pull the deck higher up, so were able to work on it much longer. The saw we had with us was very blunt and other means did not work, so we aborted our efforts and left for home. The laptop was picked up and the rest of the day and evening, I did help Danuta become familiar with her new tool.
I checked in for my flight tomorrow.

Rear entrance Taylor street Rear entrance Taylor Street.
On Tuesday, Danuta washed all my dirty and smoky belongings, so I could pack everything clean and ready for use. Danuta’s friend Joan arrived and we had lunch together, after which we took off, to Newark International Airport.
At the airport we took time for coffee before I kissed the lady’s goodbye and left for the security check.

Platform Newark Newark flight deck.
The plane, carrier is Delta, departed late because of malfunctioning of one of the systems. The plane was not completely full. I informed the stewardess of my back problem and asked her for a painkiller or a sleeping pill. She told me that they are not allowed to provide these, but she could give me two ‘children’s aspirins’. After take-off, the stewardess gestured me to an empty row of three seats, where I could lay down and sleep. So I did. I did sleep nearly the whole journey. So, at arrival at Schiphol I felt just like able to start a normal day, without jetlag.
From Schiphol I took the train to Amersfoort and at Amersfoort I took the bus to my garage. I had already checked. My car was ready, serviced and examined, ready to serve me for another year. At 10 o’clock I was back at home, made an appointment with my GP and unpacked.

Opel Leusderweg (2) This is how the Opel sign looks.
My GP, when she saw my back, reacted horrified and of course she wanted to hear the whole story: how could that have happened. After that she agreed that I have been very lucky not to have broken anything. She sent me to hospital for pictures to be taken from my spine. She told me that, in case fractures in my spine were seen, they would no doubt keep me in hospital. The pictures did however show no cracks, no ruptures or any other sign of damage.

Meander (3) Meander hospital: waiting room.

Achterwerk (1) My back 7 days after the event.

So, I was released to go home to just deal with the muscle ache, the swelling and the bruises. The next day, Wednesday, my GP sent me an e-mail with apologies for not having responded to my mail from Monday.
The rest of the week, I am busy getting my things in order, do some shopping and in general inform people about my accident causing me to move a bit stiff. Of course, everybody wants to see the damage, so I dressed conveniently thus only having to lift my T-shirt. All are very astonished and help, if needed, will be readily provided. I managed without, because I was able to apply a soothing and repairing ointment myself, everywhere it appeared necessary.

Sloop Lichtenberg Demolition of the old hospital.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 11-March 17.

Argentina start foto
Wednesday, March 10th. Jil needs new irons on his hind legs. My body is still aching too much, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.
Thursday, March 11th. My ribs still hurt, especially where my binoculars hit me when I fell off my horse. I also have some trouble on right hand knee, but that is from a known, old injury. I sit at the riverbank, with my two horses. Today there are no midgets bothering us. We eat, we rest and enjoy a lovely day in nature. I do some economising of luggage and discard again a number of items.
On Friday I walk to a farm deep inland, Estancia M. Eliza, 15 kms away. I see many animals, mostly very inquisitive. They are not fleeing for me. One of these is Piche (Peludo), a small type of armadillo. These are said to be very tasty, so I suppose they will become extinct soon. Back at the hostel I started the design of a new type of pack-saddle, to be made from an old oil drum.
On Saturday, I am very busy. I watched two men from the local public services department. They arrived with a small truck and a small shovel. The procedure is known: reverse the truck with its rear against a somewhat higher ground, release the tailgate and either load or unload the pickup truck. These men give me the name of a person who can help me produce my design. I wrap up my laundry and hitchhike to El Calafate. Usually hitchhiking is functioning very well. I am dropped at a bar with five gauchos, where I ask for further directions. They start talking and asking, offer me a Chilanian alcoholic beverage (I turn a second one down) after which they show me where I should go. In, and around a barn littered with iron, timber, rags, paper and plastics, the said help should be found, but nobody is there. In the bar they tell me, the fellow will arrive around 12 o’clock. I leave for now, to the launderette. My laundry will be ready at 15 o’clock for $6. Prices for doing my laundry vary incredibly. The cheapest was in Rio Gallegos: free of charge and ironed. Back at the saddle maker, we drink maté and talk about my design and his ideas. We walk to a meadow with 15 tame and good looking horses. Around there it is a mess with heaps of rubbish and remains of slaughtered and skinned (for leather) cows. A heap of hides, for sale, is laying in the open air, surrounded by sawn off legs. It stinks and flies are countless. I am sure this man is trying to rip me off. All of a sudden, he changes his mind and attitude. He organised a taxi and another gaucho to take me to a smithy. There I find a very friendly and understanding man. We discuss the issue, draw, measure and agreeing, with some difficulty. But, in the end, he promises me to get me the product, tomorrow, in Rio Bote. With my clean laundry I return to Rio Bote. It is dark when I arrive. With a lantern I have to look for my horses, because they have been taken to another position. My friend Oscar has been here, with the required documentation for my new horse. It was a busy, funny, satisfying day.

Molina Campos-gaucho living Characteristic gaucho living quarters according to Molinos Campos.
On Sunday I stayed at the hostel, besides a short ride with my new Jut. Jut is not used to cars and is a bit jumpy when a car passed before he saw it come. Back at the hostel I am greeted by an older gaucho. Soon I recognize him as one of the men I met when eating fish at a farm far in the country at the shores of Lago Argentina, together with Oscar some weeks ago. Late that afternoon Claudio arrives with the product he made for me. It looks good and it fits the back of Jut perfectly well. I pay Claudio, $70. We drink some, talk, play pool and table soccer. Around 20 o’clock I move the horses to their place for the night. I am sure that Juan, the hostel owner, is now a bit jealous. He saw the pack saddle that was made for me and he could have made the same, certainly for $70!
Monday,15th March. I slept uneasy. I have to move, feel the need to start travelling again. There is no water from the tap. During the night is rained a lot, large pools with rainwater prove it. At the parking, a tent is erected, a bicycle nearby. This person arrived late at night.
I go to El Calafate again, hitchhiking. Halfway I have to climb in a dumper truck. I need money and try an ATM. They don’t function. The bank employees tell that there is an interruption. The many tourists here are distressed because of it; they cannot function without money and this causes stress for the bank employees as well. I seem to fit seamless in the local population apparently: tourists are approaching me with typical tourist questions, while street vendors and informants with tourist information are neglecting me totally. I look dirty and I don’t have a camera on my belly. When I am done, I travel back with an empty tourist bus, who picks up every hitchhiker for $5. Most of these, like two Dutch girls and an Israeli couple, want to El Chalten, a left turn from the road to Rio Bote.
Back at the hostel I complete the preparatory work for my departure. At 20 o’clock I see my horses, rub them and replace them. They are cute, standing perfectly still with their legs apart when I remove the midgets there. Jil pushes me with his head as if he wants to say: please go on.
Tuesday, the 16th March. The whole day I have been busy with changes to my pack-saddle. The three sons of Juan are helping me. I join them to El Calafate buying supplies for the hostel. Later that day Oscar arrives with three gauchos. It is an enjoyable evening, talking about my plans and drinking beer.
Wednesday is again a day of trial and error with packing. In itself this is fun, being busy but I would be happy to start travelling. It was a nice day. I lost a lot of time retrieving my belongings. The small dog from the hostel is pinching my stuff and taking it to a variety of hide-outs. The stinging midgets are back again, so we expect nice weather again.

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Week 10-2018. New York.

On Sunday we are a bit late for church, but when we arrive, at Salem, free evangelical community, we enjoy the sermon of John, the leader of this church. He is talking fast and compassionate about stories that are told without proper context. We both like his speech. When the service is finished, we drive to Manhattan.

Op weg naar Manhattan (3) From Staten Island to Manhattan.

Carnegie Hall (3) Carnegie Hall.

We go to Carnegie Hall, for a concert given by Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin, accompanied by Lambert Orkis on Piano. They play a composition by André Previn, present, because this is a world première for this work of his. Other compositions played are from Bach, Brahms and Penderecki. With these two events, it was a pleasant day.
On Monday we go shopping, buying food and other essentials. After the shopping we go for a walk in ‘the Green Belt’, a nature reserve.

Greenbelt wandeling Green belt nature reserve.
We are up early on Tuesday and head for Mount Loretto, another reserve boarding the shore of the estuary. We wanted to retrieve the handles found earlier, but we cannot find them: it is high water.

Kust bij hoogwater (2) High water.

After this walk we find a noisy activity across the road: they are cutting down large parts of an old tree and shredding the cuts. For dinner we go out to a Japanese restaurant.
Since the adverse weather forecast, we decide to start work in a guestroom on the third floor. But first I solve a problem with the doorbell: a flat battery is the cause. In the guestroom we cover the furniture. After that we open up cracks in the walls and ceiling. When that is done, we put filler in the cracks. That is nasty job, because of the speed of setting the paste. While doing that, we see the weather as predicted: lots of snow with strong winds. In a short time, we do have 10cm of snow laying everywhere and staying.

Sneeuw over Staten Island (2) Snow at Staten Island.
On Thursday we continue the work in the guestroom, finishing with the removal of debris and hovering. We don’t want to cook and go to a Chinese restaurant where you can eat all you want for a fixed price. The choices you have there are enormous: vegetables, rice variations, meats, fish, clams, sushi, ice cream etc.
When back home, Danuta goes to her house where she always watches the latest on OAN (One America Network) while I do some work on my laptop. When I go from the kitchen, where I put the light out. I am distracted with thoughts and take it straight ahead, instead of taking to the left into the dark dining room. I run into the dark stairs down the basement and fall.

Het trapgat en de trap (4) Open kelderdeur en trapgat.

After arrival at the bottom of the stairs, I stay put for a while, to oversee any damage. The damage seems not to bad: nothing broken, no bleeding (at least none visible) but a pretty painful back. My spine hurts and just above my bottom, a large bump emerges. After telling Danuta about this unfortunate event, I stumble to bed and try to sleep through the pain in my back. I am used to turn from side to side via my back, but that is too painful. I have to turn now via my belly. That is unusual for me and causes some lesser sleep.
On Friday I am rather confined to taking it easy. Walking is not a problem, but bending over, getting into a sitting position and out of it, is problematic and needs a lot of attention and energy. I can hardly help Danuta with her painting job in the guestroom. I get tired fast.
The situation on Saturday is no different. I can give some help but not much. Nevertheless, the job gets done, the room is repainted. Clearing the room from tools, paint, covers etc, and returning the furniture we intent to do that next Monday.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 4-March 10.

Argentina start foto
Wednesday March 3rd, I intended to travel again, but was pulled out of my saddle and hurt my ribs. Thursday March 4th. My body hurts. Muscles ache and ribs ache. Is was a very cold night. Starting this morning is hardly possible. I ride Jil back to the hostel. They ask if I need a doctor, but no, I know the problem and a doctor cannot do anything at all with bruised ribs. I hire a room in the hostel.
On Friday, I take time to train Jut. My sore body is just allowing me to do that. After a couple of hours, I hitchhike to El Calafate. There I go to an Internet café and write to the family. When that is done, I buy a new knife. I lost the original one, and I have my head shaved off. In the evening I take a bus back to Rio Bote.

Hostel Rio Bote

Hostel/Truckdriver restaurant/Meeting place: Rio Bote.

The driver is not very attentive, because he speeds past the hostel. When I call the driver, he wakes up and drives his bus 100 meters back. In the hostel they inform me, that Oscar has taken Jut back and that he will come with an older horse, better trained for this adventure. In the hostel they now call us: medio loco Oscar with medio loco ‘Piter’.
It is far in the afternoon, on Saturday, when Oscar arrives with a ‘new Jut’. This horse is 12 years old, the same size as Jil and tame. You can crawl around, underneath, behind and he does not make any strange movements. Jil accepts the new horse easily.
Early Sunday morning, I miss both my horses. They were contained by a long rope fixed to some bushes, but the came loose. I see them walking not too far away, together. When I go in their direction with an empty bag from ‘avena’, Jil is immediately interested and approaches me. When he is attached to a branch and secured, I go for Jut. Jut did actually follow us and is easily caught as well. The hostel owner saw me busy chasing Jut and Jil, which took me 2 hours anyway, and had already taken his old truck to help me. When that appeared not necessary, he chased and shot an ostrich to be eaten tomorrow. The rest of the Sunday I am working on my electricity: the solar panel seems to malfunction.
Again, on Monday morning, both Jut and Jil are walking around without being attached to anything. I find it fabulous, that they don’t go any further than 100meters away from the hostel. It seems as if they know that they belong to me. Amazing. Again today, the clouds of midgets are a nuisance. I go to El Calafate by bus, to do e-mail and get an electrician to help with my electricity. The solution appeared to be, to restart the dry-cell battery. Back in the hostel, we eat ostrich. It tastes very well.
Tuesday morning, I slept not very well. Possibly because of too much eaten and too much wine with it, too late in the evening. It was an enjoyable evening. I saddled Jil and took Jut as well. I wanted to search for the knife I had lost last week, when I fell of my horse. I found it. Jut had to get used to my waving to cars and to hooting of these cars. But, he is learning fast. It appears not difficult to get him to do what I want him to do: trot, walk, or any other speed. My body is not yet ready to restart my journey, so I spent time on training and trying to find out why my luggage is too often shifting on the horses back.

web wk10-Province Santa Cruz By bus: Rio Bote-El Calafate v.v.
On Wednesday, March 10th, I take Jut and Jil for a test ride. We go through the country, passing many water streams without problems. The camping is neat, clean but only inhabited by seven curious horses. Jil is not pleased when they come too close. I saw large quantities of fox holes and also a dead skunk. According to the hostel boss, these skunks are, after removing their glands, lovely pets. I am now waiting for new documentation for the third Jut and for hoof irons for Jil. Jil needs new irons on his hind legs. My body is still aching too much, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

 

 

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Week 09-2018. Amersfoort-New York.

Verjaardag Nora Birthday party.
It was a busy week. One of the new tenants in the block, is Muslim. He came here through the ‘Salvation Army’. He asked me if he could go to a Christian church: he wanted to experience their way of praying. I told him that he is always welcome, but I cannot take him because I am not coming back after church. I visit my friend Hanke. She is not well. I told her that I am going to bring some dog related items to the asylum for animals. Hanke does have lots of obsolete items and gives these to me, for the asylum as well. From there I go to Eemnes to say goodbye and see if any of them is going to the birthday party of my sister, in Leiden. They are not going, so I depart on my own.
The party is very lively, with family and friends. Some of them I did not see for some time, so there is plenty to talk about.
On Monday I take the obsolete dogs’ items to the asylum. They are very happy with it and as a reward I am given a 2018 calendar. Back at home I ring my car-mechanic. I can bring my car and leave it there. It gives them two weeks to do the necessary maintenance and arrange for it to be given the annual safety check, which will allow me to use the car again for a year to come. I walked back home and made my evening meal. I packed the food with limited life, in a plastic bag and gave it to one of my fellow tenants. That done, I was ready to pack for my trip to New York.
I had plenty of time, Tuesday morning. With the bus and the train, I went to Schiphol, where I had three hours waiting before departure. The security checks for travellers to the USA are many. Each time, you are asked if the luggage you have with you is really yours and yours alone, without contents given to you on behalf of third parties. Departure of the plane was 10 minutes early. I was not really impressed by the cabin crew of Delta, the carrier. They were friendly enough but at the same time very distant. We were told, that the plane would arrive at Newark airport one hour early, I guess due to favourable winds.

In het vliegtuig (2) In the bus.
The weather in New York was excellent. Outside the arrivals hall I could smoke my first cigarette and wait in the sun for my friend to pick me up. Due to the early arrival of the plane, my friend appeared a bit late. There was, obviously, enough to tell during the ride from Newark to Staten Island. My friend Danuta gave me the same room with bathroom and side-room. In the side-room there are no windows allowing me to smoke there.
Wednesday is a sunny day with good temperature. We made a nice walk along the beach and found a lot of materials that were interesting for my friend. We have been busy trying to unscrew two bronze parts off a ships deck that had been washed ashore. We were working very concentrated until I suddenly noticed the tide coming in. We had to abort our activity, but maybe we go back later, this- or next week to finish the work.
On Thursday we do some shopping and we go for a walk in a nearby park. We enjoy lunch in a Chinese ‘all you can eat’ restaurant. I have been there before and know the quality of the food to be very good. I quite like eating there, with a huge choice. Today is again a sunny day, but for tonight and the next days, the forecast is rather bad: high winds, snow, rain and low temperatures. Later in the evening the predictions come true. Elsewhere in nearby states, they suffer snow storms.

Uitzicht vanuit rook-erker (1) View.
Friday is a very windy, wet and cold day. We stay at home. One of Danuta’s friends came over for brunch. Later that day, we were busy getting tickets for a concert on Sunday in Carnegie Hall.
After the unpleasant weather of the last two days, the situation is a lot better on Saturday, allowing us to go out again for a good walk. After the walk we go to the home of Danuta’s friend where we drink coffee and talk about dogs and cats.
Tonight, I do the cooking: the rice was a brown type and I cooked it 18 minutes: too short. The taste was okay.

Viskop eten Chinese fish head.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, February 25-March 3.

Argentina start fotoContinuing story.
Underneath a bridge I stop. Jil is taking a bath in the river. I put on all the clothes I have and make myself comfortable for the night, covered in a large plastic sheet.
Continue.

web wk9-Province Santa Cruz
I wake up at 7 o’clock. The sky is black from clouds and it is raining, ice cold. I am soaking wet down to my skin. Fortunately, there is not much wind. Away from the road I can see idyllically looking farms, inaccessible. It is clear that a bit away from the road, there is another country to be found: beautiful. After 4 hours driving, the sun comes through and I stop for lunch. Jil puts his head straight into the plastic back, even when I am still filling it with water. In the distance I see mountain tops with fresh snow. The landscape turned from flat to rolling, more friendly and green. My feet are wet and I can hardly use my fingers from the cold: I don’t feel them when I am cutting some bread and hit my fingers. Around 3 o’clock we come to estancia Librun, looking friendly and well maintained. When we go down a slope, Jil is stumbling but gets up immediately again: I suppose he needs some good food. At first there is nobody seen, but when I call out loud, a good looking young woman appears: Caroline Lambertini is her name. Caroline is on holiday from her work at the tourist information office in El Calafate; she speaks German, English and French which is rare. I am given a room with a good bed and nearby bathroom with hot water! The toilet is away from the house, it has a door with glass, giving a splendid view across the countryside. When I am installed, around 7pm, I am called to join the party of three women and two men, all in one 4×4, carrying with us lots of salads and bread. After a lovely trip through the rough country, I spot lots of ostriches and sheep, we come to some sheds where a dozen gauchos with rotten teeth, are gathered around a fire. At the fire they are roasting sheep. Of course, everybody is looking at me, the stranger. But soon enough everybody is eating with wine, bread, salad with potato and egg. The meat is so tender and well-cooked that it is hardly necessary to use your knife. During eating they play guitar, they sing, I have to sing (our National anthem) and tell stories. The sky is clear, the moon is shining, there is no wind: it is unforgettable. Around 11pm we return to the farm.
I wake up late and take a shower: cold water. Caroline makes breakfast and uses her computer to send a message (birthday greetings) to my sister. We part after she gave me some advice and food for the day. I removed the bit in Jil’s mouth and are now guiding him with only one lead from his headset. He is fast today. The road is straight and dull. Six young ostriches are running ahead of us. It is 3pm when I hear some hooting: it is Oscar. I tell him that I considered stopping a car to transport me with Jil to Rio Bote, because I am one day late. Oscar does not hesitate and half an hour later, Jil is standing secure in the back of the truck.

Hostel Rio Bote Rio Bote.

We arrive in Rio Bote at 5pm where we meet Victor with my new second horse. We drink a beer at the café, unload the truck and Oscar departs. I am on my own again, now with two horses and time to do some training of the new Jut. The owner of the hostel, shows me where I can put up my tent. In the restaurant I have a good meal and after that I go asleep in my tent.
Saturday 27th February. It was not a long night and uneasy because Jut and Jil are restlessly stamping their feet to rid themselves of thousands of tiny annoying and stinging midgets. I wake up early, around 5 o’clock, to go for a pee. Jil is present, but I don’t see Jut. The rope, with which he was secured, lays next to my tent. Of course, I am unable to sleep again and start searching. In the light of my lantern I see eyes lighting up, everywhere; foxes, or what? I wonder. With daylight I saddle Jil and start searching, while all sorts of disasters are passing my mind: is Jut stolen, eaten already or just not fixed properly. It is very adventurous going through rivers, mud, shrubbery and lots of flies. I find a dead horse in a river, possibly one of the horses they told me about to be missing. I come across a skunk, but no Jut. Back at the hostel they advise me to go to El Calafate and the local radio station: they will announce my search.

Lago Argentina vanaf El Calafate Lago Argentina at El Calafate.

When I walk to the road to go hitchhiking to El Calafate, I find Jut standing there. He is easily coming along, back to base! I travel to El Calafate by bus, to buy food for Jut and Jil amongst other necessities, like a cheap camera. I also get a ticket to visit the National Park with entrance to the Glacier Perito Moreno. The sight of the Glacier is impressive. Where I am sitting to watch and listen (you can hear the cracking of ice), a man approaches. He tells me details. He was here 15 years ago. The gletsjer used to cover the land where we are now. The width of the ice-wall you see now, is 6km, the height under water varies from 0-140 meter and above water from 50-55 meter. The gletsjer moves at a speed of 2m/day. I stayed and watched 2,5 hours: impressive, when large lumps break off with a lot of noise which, through the distance, you hear seconds later.

Glaciar Perito Moreno (1) Glaciar Perito Moreno (3)

Glacier Perito Morenon.

Around 23:00 o’clock I am back at the hostel and go asleep.
The Sunday I use to write my diary in the hostel, talk to other guests and have a lot of fun with them. Jil took a stroll and was guided back by the son of my host.
Monday morning I wake up, energetic. I slept very well, took a shower and did some laundry: you don’t want to know the colour of the waste water! I decided to stay here for some days, in order to train Jut and review my luggage. A travelling gaucho, he travels with 10 horses, is telling me about his journey. Each day he has to get his horses together, before going. Today he there is one missing. I told him about the dead horse I found in the river, the other day. He supposes that it is the one he is missing. On Tuesday I ride Jut with Jil following. I do this just for training purposes, to sort out how Jut is behaving on the road. It is a lovely riding day, through rough country, through rivers and moors. Jut is bigger than Jil, so when we cross rivers, Jil is getting a wet belly. In the river I see a lot of fish and on the road, I come across a large variety of animals like hare, geese, unknown birds and pitche. Most of these animals are staying where they are and they only move away when I am already very near.
On the way, we meet the travelling gaucho who has been looking for his horses. He did not find them. When I tell him where I am going, up North, he asks me to look for his horses and when found, take them to his brother who lives there, in Tres Lagos. Back at the hostel, Jut and Jil eat from the same basket without much trouble, which is a surprise to everybody around.
Wednesday: the gaucho departed at midday and I am ready to go 2 hours later. I ride Jul, Jil carries the luggage. We don’t get far before I have to re-adjust the luggage. When done, I mount Jut again. He goes to fast into a galop. Since I have Jil on a leash I am pulled out of the saddle. I don’t manage it and at the third trial I fall badly and hurt myself. My ribs hurt and a knee is painful. I decide to call it a day and put up my tent, only 1 km away from the hostel. Tomorrow I will try again, if I can move then after this fall.

 

 

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