Week 24-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, June 10-16.

Dure steen Very expensive stone from ‘Weg der Wegen’ disappeared in weeds.
The motorway from Utrecht to Almère is open again, after extensive works. The lighting on the A27 is new and so strong, that inhabitants close to it, experience it as disturbing for their rest at night.
On Monday, I give the caretaker at home a hand, taking two beds to the apartment opposite mine. I will get new neighbours, a couple of asylum seekers, for two weeks.
Tuesday, June 12th (6-12-’18, imperial notation) is a day to remember: The ruler of North Korea meets the President of the USA. My friend Hanke goes to hospital for treatment of an eye. I will take care of her dog Toets for a couple of hours, the duration of the treatment.

twee reeën waakzaam Two deer,

With Toets I go through the usual paths along the golf links and through the terrain of the hospital. At a certain moment, I hear Toets barking in the characteristic way indicating that she is following a game trail. Soon I see the game: two beautiful full-grown deer. In the evening I watch the soccer game between the Dutch national female team and the Slovakian team. The Slovak women fight a good fight but have to accept defeat very late in the game.

Land van Bremmer (3) View from my sisters living.
In the afternoon of Wednesday, I drove to Leyden for a two-night stay with my sister. With my brother in law I discussed some family business. I had two specific reasons to go to Leyden. On Thursday I took the bicycle to go to town. The objective is, to develop a plan for a meeting in July with my age group from primary school.

Stationsweg Eigenzorg Stationsweg Leyden.

Blauwpoortsbrug rondvaart Leiden (4) View from Blauwpoortsbrug.

The second reason to be in Leyden is a request for assistance. The son of my sister bought a house in Oegstgeest, and on Friday they are given the opportunity to inspect this newly built house. Together with him and his wife, I tried to find faults, defects and damages, for the building contractor to solve before the official completion. We produced a list of complaints and questions for the contractor. After this satisfactory action, I went back home.

Volkstuinen Vogelbuurt Allotments.
On Saturday I did my laundry. From Thursday onwards, watching the soccer games from the world championship games in Russia, take a considerable amount of time.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, June 10-16.
It will be a freezing cold night again, probably minus 5 degrees centigrade: not so nice for my horses, because the water in their containers carries 5 cm of ice.

Argentina start fotoCabalgatas

Thursday, 10th June. At 6:30 the butcher appears, freshly washed. After poking up the stove, he carries on making sausage where he left the work yesterday. Soon however he runs out of pig meat and now we have to wait for Daniël to cut some more.

14-est. Baja el Radal 8-11 juni Chorizo production.
The sky is overcast, so it will probably not be so cold. I look around and find people in a large barn, with the young bull I found astray with its mother yesterday. The poor thing stands with all legs tight up, while it is slowly bleeding from a cut throat. It tries to escape to its howling mother. It is a horrible sight. After 15 minutes it loses energy and is laid on its side. It carries on fighting, howls once more and closes its eyes, slowly. Horrible, cruel. The three gauchos start cutting and skinning while its muscles still tremble and make its legs kick with a spasm. A couple of minutes later, two halves of the bull are hanging on hooks to drain the remaining blood. In a wheel barrow the entrails are brought outside, where the dogs and falcon like birds are feasting on it.
I talk to Camaño, who confirms being a descent from French Basks. His father fled the country during the civil war in Spain. Many, in this part of Argentina, are descendants of Europeans that fled for one or another reason.

Tourisme 42e beedte graad herfst Country view.
Three times this morning, I had to pick up my horses outside their meadow, because someone left the gate open. A horse from the farm is irritating them causing Jil and Nora to go in fighting mode. At 3 o’clock the vet, Pépé arrives to examine Jill. Jil does not lift his leg, so the vet takes measures: the forelegs are bound together and we manage to get Jil down on his side. I sit on his neck, while the vet works on the bad leg. After examining the leg and in particular the hoof. His conclusion is not too bad. Tomorrow the hoof can receive a shoe again, then two days of quiet travelling and the third day resting. Per day of travelling no more than 30 kilometres. The weather is now adverse so I have to be careful. But fortunately, I can carry on, although I stay a bit sceptical.
In the meantime, the hacking, cutting and sawing in pig- and bull flesh is carrying on: 50% pig and 50% bull. From time to time a piece of meat is thrown on the grill, so I have sufficient to eat.

Toerisme cabalgatas Rental horse riding.
Friday, 11th June, 67th travel day. The fire is still hot and poking a bit is sufficient to get it properly going. Washing, feeding the horses, eating and packing. Daniël arrives and continues making sausage and peeling garlic. The night was not so cold after yesterday’s rain. Clouds are now racing along the sky. When I take the horses, one by one, to the fountain to drink, I take Jil first. Daniël gestures that he now wants to shoe Jil. First, I have to work Jil a bit, so I mount and ride away without saddle. That is fine, until Jil goes into galop and I have to ‘fall off’’, on my bum. Jil stops immediately and turns to look and see if I am alright. The smith, from my doorstep, saw it and is laughing his head off. Fortunately, I manage to join.
Here they use some sort of cage, where a horse just fits in with lots of possibilities to tie them up, on all legs if necessary. The shoeing goes fast this time and Jil is not protesting too much. That is a relief, because it is also a sign that his hoof is no longer hurting. After this, I saddle and pack, half past eleven, ready to go. I was not allowed to leave, before eating. Okay, I thought just to fit in a ready meal, but they had the other half of the young bull at the grid, grilled. They were about to start an ‘asado’. Those take a long time and I thought to need my time to reach ‘Lago de Epuyen’. They understood, so I left.

El vallenuevo en otoño Characteristic valley.
The road is unsurfaced, full of stones as are the sides. The mountains are now all around and the snowline is not far away. For three kilometres the land is burned black from wildfire, but many young greens can already be seen again. The landscape varies all the time, a lot of green, hills and valleys and now and then a passage where the ice-cold wind pushes through forcefully. At some stage, the road is surfaced again and here the cars are driving fast, but when they spot me with my herd, drivers slow down without exception. From time to time I stop to clean hoofs. I have been lucky to stop in time yesterday, because for a long time I did not come across any other possibilities. We approach Epuyen around 4 o’clock, the few buildings are situated around, somewhat disorderly but friendly laying in the sun. At the police station, the whole crew comes out to talk. They invite me to stay with them for the night, but I want to go a bit further because otherwise the trip for tomorrow gets too long. I stop again at a kiosk, to buy cigarettes. The two women there wish me all the best. At a cross roads I turn left where I see the sign of a hostel. That is where I go: a good-looking house with a large meadow well covered in good grass for my horses. In the house I see a man of age who looks a bit puzzled. His wife, the boss, is away and now he does not know what to do. Apparently, he decides that he cannot turn me away, so he shows me the guest entrance. After unpacking the horses, I lead them into the meadow, with another horse. That horse, the old man tells me, just arrived, without an owner. His wife, he tells me, is politician and saying that he pulls his nose up: he does not like politics at all. I ask him for grain for the horses, but he does not have that. After a while and some more talking, he stands up and asks me to come. We take his pickup and drive to a shop where I buy 18 kg of grain, for two days. On the way back, the man tells me to have only one functioning eye, which I suspected already. Back home, his wife is there now too and this I also suspected: she is small and snappish. She orders me to keep my horses away from her young fruit trees. I feed them the grain and after that the lady shows me around. My bedroom has a lits-jumeaux, a gas heater which she is unable to fire, bathroom and large kitchen. She provides me with bread and maté herbs, then leaves to her quarters. I make myself a good meal, light the stove (without problems) and take a good hot shower. At half past ten I go to bed, at ease, satisfied.

Cerro Piltriquitron en invierno
Saturday, 12th June, 68th travel day. I did sleep very well and woke up at 07:15, fresh. I drink maté with Pedro, the old boss. When I am ready to leave, I am prepared to pay for lodging, but they don’t want that. Maria is now a different woman, cordial. Hugs and kisses when I leave. We leave the valley via an unmarked road. After ~6km the road ends at a ford in the river and a turn to the left. I choose to take the ford, straight ahead. We climb a steep slope and at the top I find the surfaced road RA258. Easily 300 meters deep down, I see the beautiful valley coloured red from rosehips. I also see the road which I could have taken, winding through the valley, many miles more to lead to where I am now at the RA258. There are buildings everywhere, camping’s, huts, home-made jams and an abundance of fruits. They call it here ‘fine fruits’, everything that grows on bushes: all sorts of berries, raspberry, blackberry. But also cherry, and a very tasty small type of apple. It is nice travelling weather, but the road is not without danger here. It is clear that I have to pay more attention to traffic further up North. I was also told on several occasions, that people further up North are less honest and hospitable. Nature here is beautiful, a large variety of trees and shrubbery inclusive lots of water, and a view at the mountaintops with snow.

Gendarmeria bolson 2 Chubut.

In ‘Las Hoyos’ I start looking for a place to stay during the weekend. Jut is a bit difficult today, also affecting Nora while Jil is going fine. Around 5 I spot a sign to a place with lodging, 400meters away from the road and to me it seems a good place. My horses feel it and are suddenly full of energy. I follow a gravel road, passing a variety of nice looking huts unto the sign to turn right into the forest. A man hastily dressed, comes out of a neat wooden house with a swimming pool and asks, to me a bit superfluous, what I want. He relaxes soon enough. He thought that cows were entering his lot. Unsaddle the horses in a barn where a bale of hay lays on a Ping-Pong table. Jut starts eating straight away, while Nora and Jil are temporarily unable to join in. Next, we take all three with the hay to an area where the man keeps his own three-year-old horse. The area is only fenced off with electric wire. I tell my host that my horses are unlikely to be impressed and will just walk straight through it. He says that it will not be a problem, because the whole terrain is fenced off anyway. I am not bothered because my horses know now where the food is. The man asks what else my horses need and I tell him I would like to feed them corn which he does have. He rings his neighbour, a Belgian, who arrives not much later with three bales of hay. Also the misses arrives at the same moment.

Karakeristieke vogelsSome of the many birds seen here.
This settlement is called ‘Las Galondrinas’. The boss is again a French Bask called Fernando Garate. He is anaesthetist. His wife is Nora, from Italy, Calabria. She is a children’s psychologist. The have a 14-y old daughter Agueda, a 12-y old son Tobias and a 6-y old son Alejo. They are pleasant hospitable people. There are two complete houses at the premises, specially built for guests. In one of these the stove is still warm from the previous guests, a group of students. I settle in this house. Luxurious: a porch, entrance, living with Salamander stove, open kitchen with dining room, bedroom with four beds, large cupboard, roomy bathroom. Upstairs, an enormous room with Salamander stove, cushions, low wooden seats and enormous windows with a terrific view at the green country and the snowy mountains. The living is littered with cd’s, books and publications, mostly esoteric like Reiki, Touch for Health and Tarot. At 8 o’clock I join the family: pizza, maté and beer. It is cordial and we talk a lot, in English. In the confined area where the horses are, I saw Jut push his breast against the electric wire. As a reaction he stamps his forefeet and then just walks straight through it, followed by Jil and Nora. At 11 I walk, with a flashlight, back to my house, followed by Jut like a lamb. Just back in the house it starts raining cats and dogs.

Tourisme Rio Negro Tourism in this area.
Sunday, 13th June. The bad weather made me wake up several times during the night. I came out of bed at 9:30, took a shower and had a look outdoor. It is raining and the clouds are so low, that you only see the trees nearby. I am glad to have stopped travelling yesterday here. I join the family for breakfast: toasted bread, rosehip jam and coffee, maté of course. The four horses took shelter in a barn, in sight. They are soaking wet. I go feed them grain, Jil and Nora together, Jut separate. The horse from here does not stand a chance to join. When Jut is ready with his portion he tries to tie in with Jil and Nora but is not very successful. El Bolson is only 10km away from here so tomorrow I will have an easy day. Today I just enjoy the company of this family, playing and talking. Guests come here mainly for tracking on food and some for fishing. For winter sports you have to go to Bariloche. Now and then it is dry but it stays densely clouded, with the clouds shifting along the mountain slopes. Nora tells me, they are both working in the hospital in El Bolson. They started this holiday resort only last December. The forests here are also heavily affected by a deadly fungus and we agree that deforestation is a worldwide disaster. Fernando tells me a nice story: a nearby lake is much visited by people who like to have a chance to spot a UFO. Fernando’s brother, electrical engineer, with his wife were at that lake when he said, look, an aeroplane. That ‘aeroplane’ got bigger and bigger until he and his wife got scared to death and fled. A forester did see the UFO as well. After a lovely day with the family, I take to bed.

Esquadron Seguridad El Chocón
Monday, 14th July, 69th travelling day. Today I will pass the 42nd degree of latitude, visible on my map as the border between the provinces Chubut and Rio Negro. El Bolson lays just in Rio Negro. Today it looks like staying dry, but I dress in my rain cloth anyway. Fernando watches when I pack my horses, because when he travels into the mountains, he always has problems with shifting luggage. I did have that problem as well, for a long period until I found the way to prevent it. The most important action is, to pack and wait a while before tightening the slings again, before departure. I know now that horses expand their bellies when you pack initially. After payment for my lodging, I have to manoeuvre Nora and Jut out of the barn with the hay. We take the backroad. On the way we meet the half-blind old man from Lago Epuyen: he waves enthusiastically. There are numerous orchards, campings, holiday resorts and cheese producers. At the surfaced road the cars are driving fast, so have to be careful, but the horses are calm and easy today.

Escuadron 35 El Bolson

At the entrance of El Bolson, I stop at the Gendarmerie where they provide me with information. Apparently, there is a manège at the other end of town and that is where I go. Driving my lot through town is causing some disturbance. This town differs from others so far, with not only square blocks and straight roads. It is clearly a town for artisans with their tiny businesses, a tiny airfield, a brewery with camping and lots of accommodation for tourists. It all looks very pleasant. Two kilometres North of El Bolson I find the manège, with many stables and a real race track. A car approaches via the race track: Fernando, the caretaker here. I tell him my story and he invites me to stay. I leave the horses and my luggage at the manège but decide to go to town for a place to stay. It is still early and I am not in a hurry, so we talk. The president of the club arrives as well. He states that Fernando will take care of my horses and I only pay for their nourishment. I hitchhike to town, easy, three young men take me and drop me in front of the tourist information office.

Plattegrond El Bolson 1 El Bolson.

There they provide me with documentation, a map of the town and addresses from useful businesses. It is 19:00 when I walk to the hostel ‘Las Marqueritas’. The main street is enjoyably busy with lots of young people, good looking restaurants and bars. The hostel is in de the middle of town, and the room I get has a television, an enormous bed, bathroom, good heating and a splendid view at the ‘cordillera’ with its tops covered in snow. The price for my room is $14 with breakfast. After settling, I go to a recommended restaurant where I eat spaghetti with chicken, cherries on juice with whipped cream and two large glasses of milk, for $8. After this meal, I find a place with internet and a printer. I read my mail and answer them. Some people believe that Atlantis was situated here, but through movement of the earth crust, is now laying underneath the ice cap of Antarctica. After a useful evening I take a bath in the hostel, drink a beer, watch television and fall asleep.

el bolson geschiedenis
Tuesday 15th of June. I have to stay in El Bolson, because my saddle bags need repair and strengthening, which is done tomorrow. I don’t mind staying another day, because it is pleasant here and the weather is fine now. I go around with a cab if need be. At the race track I race with Jil. A woman arrives with a camera to interview me for a local television station. My horses are certainly adventurous: when they have eaten, they break out of their meadow and onto the road. It is not too difficult to catch Jil and with Jil on the lead, they follow us back to the yard. Many people approach me to have a chat, like a woman who owes a large farm in the middle of the country. Her sister owns a farm where I was, in the neighbourhood of Rio Gallegos, long ago. Today there is a small market with products from the region. I meet a tall blond fellow who appears to have been chief engineer on an oil tanker. He is Swedish, left his job because low payment countrymen do the jobs nowadays. He left Sweden because he did not like the strict rules there. Here you can do what you like, don’t pay tax and just being a good neighbour is sufficient. If you want to start a shop or another business: just do it, no paperwork. They tell me that in this valley there is a micro climate: wet, few wind and not very cold.
Wednesday, 16th June. In the evening I can get my saddle bags. The day was relaxed, like yesterday. With help at the manège I cleaned out Jil’s hoofs. The people from the manège left for a couple of hours, leaving me in charge with an enormous bundle of keys. Later in the afternoon, they produced a good barbecue. Life is easy like this.

00-web wk 24 Chubut

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Week 23-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, June 3-9.

01-Amersfoort cs Amersfoort Central Station.
On Sunday I meet Conner in Eemnes. He is alone at home. His mother went to Portugal for a couple of days.
Monday is the ‘name day’ of my friend in Slovakia. She did receive my package, right on time. I did my laundry, hung it out on my balcony and went shopping. The laundry was dry when I came back. I bought too much, my refrigarator is overloaded.

 

New trees growing.                                Garden shed.

My friend had to go to hospital to have her eyes examined. She brought Toets, her dog, here. With Toets I walked a nice long walk. At her return, my friend told me about the treatment she will have to endure, to rid her of the itching and loss of eye sight. It will be a busy programme, taking at least three days of visits to the hospital.

04-Zonsopgang Early morning walk.
On Thursday I went to see another friend. Her husband, he is 89 years, goes to an institute where he meets other pensioners. I go shopping in Amersfoort with my friend, his wife. After having been to 4 different stores, where I saw overcoats, we had lunch.

05-Langestraat Langestraat Amersfoort.

On the way back I bought a new overcoat, chosen from the ones I had seen. Back home, we await the return of my friend’s husband. After exchanging impressions and experiences, I take it back home on my bicycle.
On Friday I get Toets again. Toets went hunting and I heard her wining when she found some animal to chase. She returns without problems when I call her. It was a rainy day and we get pretty wet from our walk. Later, after Toets is gone with her boss, I watch a soccer game on television; The Dutch women soccer team is playing the Irish team and winning 0-5.

Amalanchies (krentenboompje)            My balcony doors.
On Saturday nothing special happens.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, June 3-9.
After that I return to the centre, play cards, drink mate, eat empanada’s and enjoy the evening. At 23:00 o’clock I am totally worn out and go to bed. It was a lovely day.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, 3rd June. 64th travel day. Hosteria Cume-Hue. I am up at 6, take a shower and cook spaghetti for breakfast. One of my shoes is missing. It is found outdoor. At half past eight the inhabitants appear. It was a cold night, they say: minus 8. It is foggy and daylight comes slow today. The fog also muffles any sounds. The horses are hungry, they have their heads resting on the fence. At 10 they will be fed. After feeding I am ready to go. The green parrots are busy very noisy. The road is a dirt road, with one of those enormous machines busy maintaining is. The driver stops, switches off his machine. He saw me on tv and we talk a while. There is not much traffic on this road, winding horizontally and vertically along the beautiful, silent lake. Not a ripple in the water. I am aware of a mistake: I travel from South to North and that means that I always have the sun straight ahead. This is annoying because I don’t see as much as one would with the sun in my back. We come across a café, Percon Pai. A sign tells it is open all year and I like coffee. The café is neat and modern, with a heater on and the horses grazing in sight. I get coffee, cake and biscuits. They saw me on television and are very enthousiastic. After the coffee we carry on and arrive at the planned location: café Cume Hue, 27 kilometers from the start this morning.
When we enter the yard, a slim woman appears, slightly astonished. She calls her husband to organise the horses. The older man says: ‘horses don’t belong here, they eat my flowers and plants. When he sees the horses standing quietly waiting, he relaxes and changes his mind: he loves horses. We take them to a large meadow with plenty to graze. The place is pretty large, with many fenced off areas, buildings, hay and fire wood and nearby a brook with clear fresh water. In the yard, Persian cats are playing amidst a herd of sheep with a young gaucho. After dealing with the horses, the woman takes me to a nice room with a large bathroom and central heating. Electricity comes from a generator which is shut down at 23:00 o’clock. I wash myself and go down for dinner: soup, omelette, a large trout with potatoes and carrots. I have to work hard to eat it all. We talked about my trip and went to bed as soon as the generator stopped and lights went off.

08-3 juni onderweg van Fuetelaufquen naar Cholilla Scenery in early morning.
Friday, 65th travel day. I am woken up at 07:30, shower and dress by candle light. At 8:30 I am downstairs. A taxi driver is having breakfast and I join him. He will take the old boss to Esquel. I stay behind with the woman. The horses did get to eat already, so I can start packing. When the horses are ready, I drink coffee in the kitchen, with something to eat. The lady gives me two jars with home made jam. After having paid for lodging, $67, I depart. The unsurfaced road, rough with many rolling stones, is barely used this time of the year. On both sides the road is lined with only very little space to the thickly overgrown steep slopes. A car approaches and stops: the veterinarian from Esquel. He gets out of his car asking hey Pieter, how are you doing. We chat a while. We carry on. I am riding Nora this time. All of a sudden Jut and Jil turn into a juicy sort of Alp meadow. I see why: a stream flows, so they wanted to drink. Jut is crossing the river and disappears into the woods. It cost me quite a while to chase Jut and Jil back to the road. Chasing those two is exciting, but not quite the idea for today. Jut and Jil are behaving obstinate and I have to chase them back a couple of times. Then happens what I feared: Jil steps onto a larger stone and I see his leg twist and after that he is limping a bit. I feel the need to take it easy now, so when we come to a large nicely kept camping (Rivadavia) at the borders of the lake. I turn into the grounds. Three youngsters are running it here. The oldest of the three says: with this horse, Jil, you can not carry on. We drink maté, but after that I decide to be contrary, but soon enough I give in and return. At that moment the father of the boys arrives and he advises me to carry on: to the park keeper, 4 kilometers further up the road. The scenery is amazingly beautiful, especially the enormous trees are impressive. When I arrive at the keepers house, he is just preparing his Citroën 2CV (not uncommon here) to take his wife and daughter for a two day trip. He advises me to carry on to La Bolso, 8 kilometers away, where they have a veterinarian. After two glasses of a home brewed liquor from cherries, we continue. We have to cross a cattle grid, always tricky. Nora does it without problem and Jut, the boor, follows but Jil is always refusing. I have to guide him by hand. After that we go supple. From high up the plane, I see the pueblo, deep down, friendly and welcoming. The horses see it as well and they get the idea: that is where we are going to stay. The first we see is a hostel so we enter the complex, still under construction but we are welcome. Two young , Omar and Andrès, help me unpacking the horses.

09-8 juni La Bolsa, Lago Rivadavia (Dure) hosteria Hostel.

They run the hostel but they are also building. We eat pizza and drink beer and coffee. The hostel looks very nice, like a large barn with lots of timber, a large open stove and large kitchen. The bedroom with bathroom is cosy and warm. The living room is large, pleasant furnished but the heating is insufficient. The boss, a North American, established this hostel especially pointed at other Americans who come here for fishing. The father of the young men is a horse lover, with five jumpers in the yard and trophies in display.

10-8 juni La Bolsa (Lago Rivadavia) Luxe Hosteria La Bolsa.

Through the large windows you have a terrific view at the river Carileufu. It is fun to see my horses get acquainted with the five jumpers. After dinner, the young men ask me to teach them some English, which is difficult because they hardly mastered their own language. At 23:00 o’clock I take to bed. The beds are large with very good matrasses and sheets. All hooks and handles are made from hand cut cypress.
Saturday, 5th June. I slept very well. It is foggy outdoor and of course everything is frozen up again. After the first maté, I join the men feeding 5+3 horses. I am awaiting the boss and the vet. Spread around are groups of poplars, tall, slender and leafless: stock still. Other vegetation, groups of bushes and fur trees nice green, white frosted now glowing in the morning sun. From my window I see the uninviting sharp, white mountaintops. Gaucho’s on their horse and ox driven wagons pass on the road, all without any haste. Around the valley you see smoke twisting straight up in the silent air, show where their are people living. The German shepherd is lazily laying in the sun, watching. Behind the building is a herd of sheep at the slopes, some with bells around their neck which is useful because the terrain is full of undergrowth and intersections and searching for your flock is therefor extremely difficult. You get easily lost here. Left and right from the grounds is a small brook murmuring, the sound mixed with sometimes a sheep’s bell or the sound of a horse whinnying or snorting. At eleven, the boss appears in his Chevvy, a sturdy healthy blonde in his fiftieth with hat. He looks like an English farmer, called Jorge and welcoming. In front of the fire, we talk in English about Patagonia and my journey. He is very happy with my choice of transportation, in fact he says, he sees lot of tourists here whom he tells that they choose the wrong means of transport (bicycle, motor or car). When you travel by horse, he says, all doors are opening up to you. I confirm that but also tells him about the one occasion on that rule. The vet arrives; a cheerful fellow. He examines the horses. Jil’s leg right behind suffers from inflamed tendons: he gets an injection and must have two days of rest. Jut’s molars are too sharp at his cheek. That ‘s why he eats slowly and gets a lump of food in his mouth. A treatment is possible but quite a job. For now it is best to let him eat alone. I ask the vet for the bill at which he looks at me a bit giggly surprised, but then he asks me $30. With the $20 I do have cash he is also content. Later, Jorge, the boss takes me in his car to go shopping in Cholila.

11-10 juni Est. Bajada el Radal Work to do.

12-10 juni Est. Bajada el Radal Bajada el Radal.

His Labrador named Quilmes occupies the back seat. Just out of the gate there is a tiny woman, walking to Cholila. Jorge gives her a ride. In his house in Cholila I meet Jorges wife, a charming slender black haired woman called Deborah. She appears to be historian specialised in the history of Patagonië. This is the real Patagonië, she states: quiet, no hurry, no money, enough to eat, friendly. After my shopping we return to the hostel. This valley, surrounded by nearby mountains and high hills, is littered with all sorts of livings, cattle, and green land. We meet the vet again. He is busy with a herd of cows, suffering from diarrhoea through a parasite. Jorge tells me that they are busy building for a year now. The hostel must be ready in October, the start of the fishing season. I cook spaghetti for everybody and they like it. We eat and drink whisky and cognac from Jorge. The two young men disappear at 22:00 with guns: they go hunting for hare. At 01:00 Jorge goes to bed, a bit angry and concerned because the boys are not back yet. A bit later they return, empty handed. It was a lovely day: perfect holiday.

Characteristic valley.
Sunday, 6th June. The fog disappears fast and here, in the afternoon sun, it is very pleasant. There is no wind and that helps a lot. Jorge does have Dutch ancestors, Glastra. He tells me about his business plans and the prospects. He expects to make good money for three years. After that he expects to have too much competition. I find it to short a period for the return of his investment. We discuss alternatives and he likes my idea to focus on low budget travelling youth from all over the world. In the afternoon the two young men go hunting again and this time they return with four full grown hares. Jorge went to his wife in Cholila. I miss my horses at a certain moment. When I start looking for them, I find them in a propped up in a tiny shed where the hay is stored: quietly eating their way. It is not easy to get them out of the shed, with a door opening inside. Fortunately they are very tame and easy to handle. More difficult is it, when the 5 thoroughbreds from Jorge appear at the door as well. Some of them are not too easy and try to bite, but Nora is not impressed and kicks around.

20-Patagonië expres
In the evening I witness, for the first time this trip, a real nasty dispute. A former business partner of Jorge came to discuss financial matters. Jorge lost a lot of assets when the parity of the USA dollar and the Peso went down. He had to sell his farm.
Monday, 7th June. Jorge is up very early and took off with the two boys: they have to go to school in Bariloche. We made a new headset from ordinary rope. The leather headset was chewed up by the Alsatian dog. I ride Nora for fun. I asked her to go at full gallop and that does feel very smooth. With Andrès I reorganise my saddles, slings, reigns and all that. When Jorge returns, at 20:00, he is a bit tense because he things they stole a complete bathroom from him. Later he find out it to be mistake and after that we enjoy again a pleasant evening, eating and consuming whisky and wine. At 23:00 we call it a day, go to bed while the fire is still on.

21-Lago Puelo
Tuesday, 8th of June, 66th travel day. At half past six I am out of bed and start preparations for departure. After the payment of my lodging, $200, and taking pictures, I am on my way. Soon I have to stop because some of the new arrangements are not functioning. When I am busy, Jut suddenly returns to the hostel with Nora and Jil happily following him. They are stopped by a pedestrian but are not very willing to proceed in the direction I want to go. After a while however, they comply and all is well again. At the connecting road in Cholila I stop at the service station, where I eat a good sandwich. A couple of times on the way I try to guide my herd onto the ice, to break it and allow them to drink. They are not very happy with it and it is certainly a risky thing to do, the ice is pretty thick already. Away from Cholila the road is pleasant, horizontal, with wide shoulders. There is not much to eat in these shoulders, but this time I carry a bag with grain for the horses. Nature is beautiful again, with lots of red from rosehip. The hills are close by and a bit further away the peaks with snow. There are lots of small settlements, so I don’t have to worry about a place to stay. We arrive at a farm which is not shown on my map. I see Jil limping again so I enter the grounds of the farm. At the house I knock and a sturdy man in his fiftieth appears. I am welcome and he calls his gauchos to look at Jil’s leg. They find the problem: a hoof nail is driven into Jil’s hoof too high. They start work straight away, which is not so easy with Jil unwilling to comply due to pain in his leg. When the shoe is finally removed we see blood in his hoof and that is not good at all. On top of that we find that a stone was sitting between the shoe and the hoof: that means bad work from Maldonado in Esquel! This means again delay. At first they suggest me to put up my tent, then an open shed and then I see a nice solid little house in the meadow where the horses stay. They allow me to settle there. Inside the house I find a still warm stove, table, electrical light, a sleeping room with two beds with matras and pillow. I may take fire wood as much as I need. Daniel, the boss, appears for a chat. I made a meal on my spirit burner. I hear the horses rummage about the house and they come up to me. I guess right: they are thirsty, so I provide them with water from my bottles which is rapidly gone. When I leave the door of the house open, they just enter if I did not hold them. They are lovely! The farm is called ‘Bajada el Radal’. Radal is some sort of tree growing here, so it is called ‘Underneath the ….tree.’ The owner here is from French descent, probably Bask, called Camaña Pagno. I did meet more French Basks earlier.
Wednesday, 9th June. I did sleep very well and made the fire going using some of my gasoline. Again it is very cold at 9 when daylight comes up. I use the morning to melt ice in a kettle at the fire. The water is for my horses. All three were groomed this morning as well, while Jil was contained to rest his leg. The gaucho who removed Jil’s shoe came again. He thinks that Jil has twisted tendons or muscles. If that is true, I will have to review my plans. I talk to the boss about staying for a longer period, but first I want to hear the opinion of a vet, specialised in horses. A person arrives with a meat mincer and they start to dismantle a cow.

 

They are making chorizo and minced meat for empanada’s. Later that day, I join Daniël on the search for two missing cows. I saddle Nora. It is a funny sight: Daniël is small and rides a large horse, while I am big riding a small horse. I ride Nora without rains or whip and Daniël is astonished. We come to Lago del Cisne where I see a young bull at the wrong side of the fence. Daniël chases it through the gate and points out the mother cow. We guide these two back to the farm. On the way we get company from another young cow. Daniël goes through the narrow gate in the fence while I keep the young cow away from the entrance. Nora worked very well and very easy. Once back, I feed my horses with grain and salted water: they swallow it. I pay special attention to Jut, in order to make sure he eats slow and sufficient. Daniél asked me not to smoke in the ‘my’ living because it is there that they are producing their meat and the tobacco smell may get into the meat. They cut an enormous piece of beef for me, for tonight. I eat is ‘red’ which is uncommon to them. While I am eating, a third gaucho arrives and tells me that my horses are in the grounds outside their fenced meadow. I warned them about that, because I had seen that especially the children left the gate open, most of the time. My horses are looking for me! The same gaucho helps me to get them back to their confinement. He is surprised that I don’t need to put a headset on them: no, I say, not necessary, a handful of hay is sufficient. And so it is. It was a lovely busy day and at eleven I go to bed, very satisfied.

xx-web wk 23 Chubut Progress.

It will be a freezing cold night again, probably minus 5 degrees centigrade: not so nice for my horses, because the water in their containers carries 5 cm of ice.

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Week 22-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 27-31/June 1-2.

01-Fort Maarseveen The A27 was closed, so I had to take a diversion through the country, via Maarsseveen.

Sunday. After church I visit my friend in Hollandsche Rading and after that I go to my family in Eemnes. There, I watch the formula 1 race in Monaco. The race is not spectacular this time. Verstappen wins 11 places and finishes in the points, which is very good. After the race, I return to Hollandsche Rading, where I pick up Toets. I am taking care of Toets until Wednesday afternoon.
The Monday is a quiet day, with a lot of walking. Toets is chasing anything that moves.

02-Toets na de jacht Toets after a chase.

Getting her back in control is no problem at all; she listens very well to my whistling.
Late in the morning of Tuesday, I am contacted by the R.S.C.P.A. They ask me to transport a large turtle to the specialised sanctuary in Alphen a/d Rijn.

04-Schildpad (1) Turtle.

After delivery of the turtle, I continue to Katwijk aan Zee, where I arrive early in the afternoon. Ina, the owner of beach house Key-West, greets me with a hug. I get a beer and booked dressing cabin nr.8 for the holiday of my brother in August.

05-Katwijk strand Noord Katwijk, North Beach.

After that, I ate an omelette with smoked salmon. Arriving back in Amersfoort, Toets did not want to leave the car. I was aware of the reason: a thunderstorm was approaching. I manage to get Toets to my apartment, before the shower begins. The thunder is not too bad, but Toets is totally stressed. She tries to hide, in my dresser, between two drawers, underneath my radio set and underneath my bed. She relaxed a bit in my bathroom after I closed the door.

03-Goede morgen Toets (1) Good morning sunshine.

Wednesday. Toets is in the living room, when the muslim woman who cleans in the building, comes to the door. Toets approaches her, like she does to every new arrival. The woman flees screaming. Late in the afternoon, my friend came home and I go there, to return Toets to her.
Again, I am asked to take turtles to Alphen, three of them this time. One of the turtles is a baby, escaped from his keepers. It is told that these keepers, smuggled the baby turtles from Tunisia into the country, which is highly illegal.

06-Baby schildpad Baby turtle from Tunisia.
During the evening, I watch a game of the Dutch soccer team, playing against the team of Slovakia. The result is just a draw: 1-1. The game was not very interesting.
Friday and Saturday, I stayed at home. Nothing memorable happened. May be the most interesting was one of the young inhabitants telling that she has difficulty in reading the clock.

07-Opvang Walking the neighbourhood.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 27-31/June 1-2.
When I get back to the barracks, I am told to move. My appartment is needed for a high ranking officer, arriving from Buenos Aires. It’s a pity, but what should I complain?

Argentina start foto

Thursday, 27th May. It was a very relaxed day. On television I saw the interview from my entrance in Esquel. It looks good but very wet. Maldonado was very busy with the delivery of an enormous amount of hay for the Gendarmerie horses. Nestor, a journalist/photographer will shoot pictures and interview\ me for another newspaper. The pictures are for the production of picture postcards to be sent to my family and friends. With the gendarmes I care for the horses and drink mate, enjoyable. At 5 o’clock the chef calls me to his very nice office for again an interview with a newspaper. In town I walk around, looking for a new spare bulb for my torch; I did not find one.
Friday, 28th May. It is a cold and very wet day. We are busy with the horses and my gear. Nestor arrived to shoot the pictures, for which I rigged the horses. The shoots are developed and I choose four, to be printed 10 times each.

08-3 paarden From left to right: Jil, Nora, Me, Jut.

09-nora Nora.

Saturday, 29th May. Two of the horses were given new shoes. I took 1,4kg of documentation and souvenirs to the post office and sent it, per boat. It will take 3 months to arrive.
Sunday, 30th May. I helped Maldonado to start off on patrol on horseback. In the afternoon we gave new shoes to my third horse. The gendarmes are very nice to me, we chat, drink mate and they ask me lots of things. They take me to town if I like. In the evening I backed pancakes for the youth from Buenos Aires. They loved them.
Monday, 31st May. Left over pancakes were to be my breakfast: the are all gone. There is sufficient dough left, so I just baked new ones. After breakfast and mate, I call a taxi to take me to the veterinary and the post office to sent 40 post cards. The taxi driver shakes my hand: he knows me, from the tv interview. The vet from the gendarmes charges me $45 for the treatment of my horses: peanuts, for 6 days and 3 horses. At the communications office they charge my battery. Every now and then there is a gendarme who does not know me yet. Funny to see how surprised they look when they notice me moving through the barracks. One of them picks me up to go on a trip by car. He also takes his son. We drive around, visiting Trevelin, the national parc Los Alerces and a hydro electrical plant Futaleufu.

10-Hydro electrical dam Dam.

13-excursie 3 River deep down.

Nature is fabulous and diverse, with real forest, farms, cultivated land. It is a bit like in the mountains of Austria, complete with a ski slope. The dam, built to make the hydro electrical plant move, is 120m high, made of natural stone and clay. We come across an orchard where we gather a large bag full with tasty ripe apples. At the entrance of the National Parc, there is a guard from the gendarmes. We drink mate there and eat fresh backed ‘torta fritta’. Back in town he shows me his house, built by himself in 8 years: he made it a nice and pleasant house.

12-excursie 2 Nature.

11-excursie 1 Splendid view.

In the evening I cook Spaghetti Bolognese in the ‘casino’. The cooks are a bit shaken by the amount of aji chilena I did put into it: pretty piquant! The whole day they are busy baking pancakes, now known as ‘dutch pancakes’.
Tuesday, 1st of June. The 62nd travel day. During packing my horses, the cineastes come to say goodbye: they are going home, a 2000km road trip. I get a bill for the lodging here: $60. Some of the gendarmes told me how to go through the country, but after some discussion in the sentry box they agreed that this is no option, because of the many fences with unknown passages. The plan is, to follow the lakes through the National Parc Los Alerces, a longer road but beautiful. When I am busy packing I notice a lot of activity. The gendarmes are preparing for a parade. A large group of musicians, lots of gendarmes and a large group of scouts in camouflage dress marches off the terrain into the dual carriage way outside the barracks. At 11 precise, I am ready to depart, with terrific weather.

14-rij klaar Ready to go.

Gendarmes not taking part in the parade, are calling and waving me good bye. Outside the gate it is busy with civilians, gendarmes, a television crew and many photographers watching the parading troops. I have to go past them and also passing the stands with dignitaries. The wide road allows me to pass the troops. When I come past the stands I wave, to the commander, and salute. What happens next is hilarious. A number of dignitaries is clearly surprised while others wave and salute me in return. Photographers come running up to me to take pictures, the music is happily playing while the troops are losing their concentration and get out of march while looking and waving at me. My horses get out of line as well, a bit nervous due to the noise of the music, but I manage to keep them going.in line. A departure like this is one of a kind. During the 5 kms through town it is clear that many people saw the news on television, with my arrival in town. They are waving, clapping hands, shaking hands and wishing me good luck. Outside of town we walk a road lined with pine trees. All three horses show good will, I don’t have to push and the pack horses often go ahead. The air temperature is low, but there is no wind and the sun are shining: terrific travelling weather. The non-surfaced road winds through pleasant hills. Birds are in large numbers with a tree full of noisy large green parrots. The colours of autumn, red brown, light- and dark green and lots of yellow, are beautiful. Further away I see the high white peaks of the cordillera. At the crossing of the river Percey I stop to make pictures. We take a rest, because we have been climbing for a while. The winding river deep down is amazing. A car stops and the driver, a colourful gaucho gets out for a chat. He is very praising about Nora: beautiful horse! In the meantime, Jil tries to steal a pancake from my pocket: we share it. Nothing wrong with his nose. 16-Park Nacional Los Alerces Pargue Nacional Los Alerces.

 

Around 4 o’clock we reach the turn to Trevelin with nearby a nice-looking farm. I take the turn and not much later a sturdy gaucho on a large white horse approaches. We shake hands, friendly. We are welcome at the farm, my horse are aware of it and go forward rapidly. The farm is located beautiful against the hills, with a lot of greens, many trees and a half-frozen river. I park the horses, while another gaucho comes out of the house. I greet him by taking my Sahara cap gracefully. Hastily he takes his grabby cap of, shakes hands with a wide grin. Gustavo, a strongly built blond man in his early thirties is the boss. He shows me around. In a separate house at an enclosed area, the two gauchos are living. I get a room there, next to the kitchen. In the room are two beds without matrass. My luggage goes into a barn next to the house. Gustavo hints, and a bale of hay is hastily taken to my horses. They rip the bale apart and I need to be quick to save half of it for later. Gustavo and his wife Veronica are both blond. They have roots in Wales. Welshmen came to Argentina in the 19th century and founded Trevelin. Gustavo is veterinarian, but is not practising. He runs this and another farm for the owner, a neuro surgeon. I help him with shooing a thoroughbred mare, Eclipse. Eclipse is in preparation for a local race in Esquel, the 21st of June. I have dinner with his family. They want to know all of Holland and I want to know all of this area, so we have a very pleasant evening.
Wednesday, 2nd of June, 63rd travel day. I could not sleep, due to very cold feet. At 2 I rose, found Nora and Jil in front of my door, asleep. With a sheepskin over my feet I fell asleep fast. Early in the morning, the two gauchos are preparing breakfast. I join them, with my feet nearly inside the stove. It is still dark, but by the light of the moon I start rigging my horses, for the first time with gloves. Around 10 I am ready to leave. Gustavo makes a picture of us. From the crossroads to Futalaufquen we walk on tarmac again. Jil and Jut piss only when we stop, they shit during riding. Nora, the female, always makes an emergency stop for any sanitary need, and that happens often, annoying for Jut and Jil. We enter an area with large variety of conifers, fir and spruce. The few leaf trees stand grey and leafless spread around. The undergrowth is mostly yellowish, with many overblown flowers. The amount and variety of birds is amazing. The entrance of the National Park Los Alerces looks nice but is deserted, as is the small stall, unfortunately because I would love a cup of coffee.

15-plattegrond PN detail Detail map NP.

A few kilometres up the road I see a friendly looking cottage. with a smoking chimney. I am offered mate at the fire in a real chair. The family, grandmother without teeth, young couple with a one-year old daughter and a 14-year-old brother are speechless when I tell them about my trip. After half an hour I carry on, at a dirt road, across a cranky wooden bridge. After 4 kilometres or so, we come to Villa Futalaufquen, picturesque in the afternoon sun, clean and well-kept avenue with enormous trees. I parked my horses in front of the gendarmerie, where they are expecting me: two hours ago, four of them passed me in a loud honking Landrover. One of the gendarmes guides me to the information centre, where they are also aware of my arrival. Eight young men are working here, to deal with emergencies like wild fire or accidents. They are well equipped with fire fighting equipment, ambulance, means of communication etcetera. They have one guestroom, where I may stay. The horses go into a fenced off area with the horses from the gendarmes. As a matter of fact, the park is closed for the public in winter, which is now. There is one supply shop where I buy food. After that I return to the centre, play cards, drink mate, eat empanada’s and enjoy the evening. At 23:00 o’clock I am totally worn out and go to bed. It was a lovely day.

17-web wk 22 Chubut Progress.

 

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Week 21-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 20-26.

Amersfoort (2) Old train at Amersfoort.

On Sunday I did what I always do: church, visit Hanke and my family in Eemnes. I walked with Toets and it is good to see, that she is listening so well to me. In Eemnes I hear how Conner’s birthday party has been, yesterday. Fact is, that the guests emptied 9 crates of beer.
I published my blog on Monday, after a lot of trouble with the new configuration. It did cost me a lot of time. Tuesday and Wednesday were days of very nice weather, watching cycling in Italy and chatting with the youths here. At one of our tv stations there are interesting films. I watch and forget the time: far after midnight I go to bed.
The Thursday is totally different. I go to Haarlem with bus and train, to meet a friend.

Amsterdam (3) Haarlem (4)

Amsterdam.                                                            Railway station Haarlem.

Once or twice a year I meet him somewhere in a town. We go around the interesting town centre, enjoy meals, drinks, and talking about news and persons we see. It is always a very pleasant occasion. In Haarlem we agree that the ‘poffertjes’ stall at the centre of the marketplace is an absolute disgrace.

Haarlem (8) Haarlem, market place with ‘poffertjes’ stall.

We also agree that the square in front of the railway station is unbelievable boring. For the rest, we were satisfied with what Haarlem has to offer.

Haarlem (9) Old  Haarlem.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 20-26
I make my bed on top of the stack of hay, together with the dogs. Outside the barn it is terrible weather now (dogs weather).

Argentina start foto

Thursday 20th May. 57th travel day.
We rise at 08:30. The sky is clearing and the wind is diminishing. The horses stand in the marsh nearby. They have to cross a stream; Jut is doing that readily, he jumps. Jil makes a game of it, he avoids me with his tail up. But suddenly he crosses a cranky wooden bridge. After that, making them ready goes smooth. It is good travelling weather, but the sky is threatening with showers. I keep my raincoat ready. The highter hills along the road are covered in snow, but it stays dry. At a certain moment I miss my raincoat: it must have fallen off. I stop and tie my horses up along the road. I put up my thumb for a car to take me back along the track. A young man picks me up but is driving so fast, that I hardly see details along the road. I give up and the guy carries on, but returns 3 minutes later, with my raincoat. A lorry driver picks me up to get back to where I left my horses. The driver tells me that people are reluctant to help because there were a number of robberies lately. The horses stand where I left them, at ease. Around 4 in the afternoon, I arrive at a farm, Est. Arislur. It’s been enought for today. There is life: two large dogs come up, with a bit later a guacho. Again we are led into a large barn with open fire, benches and tables. After demounting we talk and drink maté. In the meadow around, there is not much grass, but the gaucho comes up with hay for the horses. When I am at the gaucho home, Jil comes up to the door and puts his nose in my hand. I go out, take Nora by her headset and walk to a stream, with Jut and Jil following. They drink a lot. After that, I made my bed in the barn. The gaucho placed a sheeps ribcage in front of the fire and we cut off what we want: spare ribs. Back in the barn, the fire is burning fine. I write my diary of today and go to bed.

 

Gobernador Costa documentation, with hand drawn directions after.
Friday, the 58th travel day. At 4 in the morning I am awake, go out. Again I admire the starry sky where the various systems of stars are so clearly visible. It is freezing cold. After a while I go back to bed and sleep a deep sleep. When awake again, I light the fire and have breakfast. When I whistle, Jil is the first to show up, followed by Nora. Jut does not show up, but I am sure that he will be close as well. The gaucho feed them hay and we drink maté and coffee. The gaucho comes to the barn to say goodbye, after which he leaves. I am ready to go at 11 o’clock. The sky threatens, but there is only a little drizzle. A delivery van approaches, turns around and stops for a chat. It is some one I got to know in Gdor Costa. At 2 o’clock we arrive in Tecka. At the hotel they are very helpful. Behind the hotel, they provide the horses with food and water. My luggage and gear is stored under the carport. The innkeeper states his worries about theft. I get more and more the idea that the people here have to deal with considerable crime rate. Today we made only 18 kms, but I am happy with it: a quiet and easy day, without adverse weather. The sun is shining again. Tecka lays in a valley, built at only one side of RA40. The inn keeper, Jose Maria Ferrada, must have a sense of humor. In the bathroom a notification asks the guests to please keep the bath in perfect condition. Looking around I see all windows and the mirror broken, the cold water tap does not function, the hotwater shower gives 20 degrees water, there are no gratings on the drains, the toilet brush sticks into the flush mechanism, the floor gets soaking wet and there are no means of hanging cloths or towels: typical Argentinian. Everything is fixed with steel wire, paperclips, nylon etc. My hotelroom is less then basic, nothing but two beds, a bulb hanging on its wiring (but lit all day), a rickety bedside table, an old towel covering the one and only window. But, the enthusiasm of the staff pays for it all. The first man I met here, who brought me to the hotel, is Nestor O’Mellado. He provides the hay for the horses. He is the ambulance driver here. They have two ambulances: one for the road and one for the country, off road. Nestor tells me about his work. Often they are too late, in the country. The gauchos are often far away and they have no means of communication. Some do have a transistor radio, only to receive messages. Nestor’s daughter, 14y old shows up and greets me with two fat kisses. She is a typical local girl, glasses, sweet face. Pitchblack shiny long hear in a braid.
Saturday, 22nd of May, 59th travel day. The collectivo, sort of public transport, arrived in the middle of the night. I noticed that, but fortunately slept well anyway. I had a formidable breakfast, made pictures and did some shopping. We discussed my journey for today. They did not know the name of a farm named Don Bonito, as on my map. They knew others however: La Mimosa, opposite an YPF petrol station at 15kms and Central at 30kms. At 12 o’clock I am on my way, after a double whisky. Nora sometimes suddenly stops, Jil is walking most of the time like on the automatic pilot. Since they are tied together, he is aroused when Nora stops. The scenery is beautiful, friendly hills with behind them less friendly looking rough high mountains.

Region Esquel Region Esquel.
We ride alongside the river Tecka. A gaucho approaches me, asks me what I am doing and nods towards some trees. He asks if I go past Ea. La Mimosa. I confirm that. He carries on and so do I, following him from some distance. Small flocks of sheep are grazing at the side of the road: the gaucho chases them into a fenced meadow. He leaves another flock of 20 sheep standing in a corner. This flock starts running along the fence when I approach. I make a large bent away from them and they stop running. After 6 kms we arrive at La Mimosa. There is a butcher shop and large two story house. The reception here does not feel good to me, possibly because the whole settlement is too big. I asked around to find the boss here, but he appears to be asleep. I decide to carry on, to the next farm. It is still early, so I do have time. The scent of the country is again very appealing, no matter the scent of skunks sometimes reaching my nose. After 26kms I reach an entrance road with a sign to ‘cabanas’. I don’t see any of these and halt a truck for information. The farm, I see the trees in the distance, is 6 kms further up the narrow winding road with lots of trees and only little roadside for us to travel. The road runs high above the river Tecka, with the farm at the other side of the river. At a sign telling me that we are at Est. La Central, there is a very narrow and long suspension bridge and a dangerously growling big black dog at the other end. I cross the bridge on foot, leaving the horses where they are. At the farm I find a variety of buildings, a horse, a variety of pigs and loads of hens with chickens. I walk around, looking, calling, whistling, but no human appears. I return to my horses across the river and walk on, looking for an entrance. Then I see someone on the other side in the fields. I call him and he gestures a bit further. There is a gate, not locked. We enter, wade through the river, arriving at the farm. I find the person who waved me to the gate: Claudio, a 15year old clever boy and a 64 year old man. I am very welcome here. My luggage is stored in a large barn. The barn is full with bales of hay. After that we share maté in the kitchen, while the old man tells stories in quick, unintelligible Spanish. Around 9 o’clock Claudio leaves to meet the coach to Tecka. He will return on Monday. The farm does have electrical wiring and lamps, but there is no working generator, so we have light from an oil lamp and from my battery. The old man complains about the lack of electricity. He has no communication means either. Arriving at night somewhere, and not seeing any light, does not mean that a place is uninhabited, so much is very clear. At half past nine the old man disappears with the oil lamp. I spread out my sleeping bag at the kitchen floor and fall asleep.
Sunday, 23rd of May, Whitsunday. Est.Central lays in a narrow passage between high hills. It is therefor a bit dark. At 9 I can switch off my light. The temperature in the kitchen is low. The roof here is from corrugated iron with holes in it. Under the roof is jute hanging. Condensation drips from various points: not very pleasant. After drinking maté with the old man, we feed the horses. At midday it is still pretty cold, extreme silent, sunny: rural. We eat spaghetti with some of my supplies. It is a very easy, quiet day. I do some maintenance on the horses, treating hoofs and skin. My solar panel is at work, charging the dry-cell battery. Of course I have to redirect the panel nearly every hour. At 17:45 the sun disappears behind the hills, shining onto the nearby hills in the East, which is a beautiful sight. We go to bed early.

Esquel Region
Monday, 24th of May, 60th travel day. The plan for today is a 30km trip to an uncertain goal. I may have to make camp somewhere, but there are some vague indications about the existence of a ‘pueste’ at that distance. We make good progress, the vegetation is changing, there are much more birds and we come at a higher grounds, so much is clear. Sp, we climb and that is tiring for the horses. It is good travelling weather and passing cars all show their interest by waving. An ambulance stops: the driver is Nestor, who helped me in Tecka. The second man is the doctor, who asks me what sort of study my journey serves: ‘are you anthropologist?’ No, I am on holiday. The terrain is nice, alternating. Jut is limping a bit due to a loose hoof-iron. Earlier then expected, we arrive at the foreseen cross roads. Now it is time to look for a place to stay. Far inland I spot a farm. From time to time I see groups of trees, possible locations for a pueste but there are none. I did not see a good camping site either. Unexpectedly I hear somebody whistling: a gaucho on a white horse, busy with a flock of sheep. We wave and I carry on. I spot a lot of horse tracks in the path, that is hopeful. I carry on and coming around a bend in the road, I spot the expected pueste nearby. A short, voluptuous and friendly woman opens the gate for me. I park my horses awaiting her husband. There are hens, dogs, cats and two tame nandu’s at the dreary bare grounds. In a fenced off area there are eight horses. Soon enough a van arrives with the boss. He is amused hearing my story and of course we share maté. They take me to a barn, one side is open, to lay down for the night at an enormous stack of hay. The hay stack is fenced off with steel wire mats. In the evening, there is more company: a son, a friend and two acquaintances arrive, and we have dinner all together in a joyous atmosphere. There is one problem: they don’t have water for the horses.

 


At half past ten, I climb onto my heap of hay. The grating was removed and the van placed in front of the hay stack. My luggage lays in the van, to protect it from being pissed at or the leather being chewed by the skinny dogs. The nandu’s are plucking Jut, who apparently does not mind. In the middle of the night I wake up, with three horse heads straight in my face. They forced their way along the van and are now happily eating away the hay from underneath my sleeping bag. I get up and work them back, out of the barn and close the gap off with the wire gate.
Tuesday, the 61st travel day. Today is the ‘Dia de Patria. Argentina is founded in 1810. It is not cold this morning, with a cloudy sky. The departure is easy and quiet. Nora is leading, Jut is objecting, probably because he misses a hoof-iron. I would not like to walk with one shoe with a sole and the other without, so I don’t press on. We are climbing all the time and the vegetation changes from trees with leaves to coniferous trees. A climbing road is, in general, also a winding road like now. At 13:00 I arrive at a pueste with greens and water. The horses make good use of it. Two brothers are living here, with hens, dogs and horses. The tiny house is cosy, enjoyable and with a lot of religious artefacts. After the pause, we arrive at the turn for Esquel at the planned time. The sky shows threatening clouds, so I take my rain suit out. We come across a railway and to my surprise a steam locomotive with four carriages passes, which is an unexpected sight. The town, with 30-40.000 inhabitants is the first larger town since a long time after Rio Gallegos. It is now seriously raining, when I pass the welcoming gate with a police post. I chat with the two policemen. They are not asking to see documentation, for a change. Further on the road, line with pine trees, there are many horsemen, in poncho’s. The valley is littered with farms, horses and cows. The rain and the low hanging clouds don’t make a friendly sight but I think that it must be pleasant here, certainly when the sun is shining. Once just in town, I am met by a crew from the local television station. They interview me in soaking rain. They tell me where I will find the ‘gendarmeria’.

Esquel View

Barracks Gendarmeria Esquel

By daylight still, I arrive, soaking wet from the rain. I park my horses where it seems usual. After explaining I wait a little, but soon my horses are lead to stables and I am lead into an apartment in the officers casino. The ‘casino’ is a robust building with a community hall, large kitchen, living with television and comfortable seats. The apartment which is designated for me, is excellent: a large bathroom with bath, shower, toilet, bidet and sink, a bedroom with two beds and a room with litsjumeaux. Enormous wardrobes, gold plated taps, table lamps, soft fitted carpets and a noisy gas fired stove. It is good warm in the apartment. When I am settled with my gear, I go to the kitchen where it is busy with zeven young adults from Buenos Aires. They are here for the production of a documentary for their training. I went back to my apartment for a luxurious bath and returned after that to the kitchen, where the youth tries to teach me a card game called ‘Truco’, a much played game in Argentina. Gendarmes come and go; they all want to hear my adventure. I don’t see anything like festivities for the birthday of their.

Impression activities Gendarmeria EsquelGendarmeria at work.
Wednesday, 26th May. Today I am busy with my horses. The veterinarian, an older man, tells me that, further up North, they will ask me documentation giving prove of the health of my horses. I do have those only for Jil, so we organize to get those for Jut and Nora too. I also organize for the renewal of all the hoof irons for all three horses. Laundry is cared for, as well as maintenance on my electrical equipment. The chief here is very helpful, I ask, discuss and get done what is necessary. Esquel appears to be quite a pleasant town, with many restaurants. It is a cold day, all the mountains and hills around town are now covered in snow. When I get back to the barracks, I am told to move. My apartment is needed for a high ranking officer, arriving from Buenos Aires. It’s a pity, but what should I complain?

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Week 20-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 13-19.

Utrechtseweg Utrechtseweg.

The Sunday was pleasant as usual: church, visit my friend in Hollandsche Rading with her dog Toets, and see my family in Eemnes. In Eemnes I watched the Formula1 race in Barcelona. The race finished with a 3rd and a 5th place for the Red Bull team with Max Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Winkels centrum Leusderweg (2) Shops Leusderweg.

Monday was rather quiet, talking with other inhabitants, cooking, writing and watching tv till very late. I was just about to go to bed, at 2 o’clock at night, when I heard a lot of noise on my section of the building. I had a look. My neighbour just came home and he was aroused as well, by the sight of another fellow who was sleepwalking in his underpants.

Eetbare bessen (3) Sweet berries growing.

On Tuesday, I did not go out at all. A quiet day at home.
On Wednesday I often get a visit from my friend with Toets. She did not show up today, so I assume that she is not feeling to well. In the afternoon, the R.S.C.P.A rang and asked me to bring a grey silk fowl to the birds’ sanctuary in Naarden, which I did.

Zijde hoen Silk hen.

On Thursday I made a number of phone calls, like to my friend in Canada who is not all too well. Further, the news kept me busy as well, thinking and talking about a fellow with a knife, hurting three totally random persons in The Hague. For the 20th birthday of one of my step-grandchildren, I went to Eemnes. He appeared to be out, but my daughter in law was home. We drank some wine and I left a blender with some money as his birthday present. From there I took a frame from a mirror with me, in order to have a new mirror placed into it.
On Saturday morning I took the mirror frame to a shop in Soest, where they are going to fit a new mirror. I drank coffee at the shopping centre there. In the afternoon I went to town in Amersfoort, by bicycle. I bought a new belt at the market. After that I entered the St.Joris church to attend the vespers and I did like that. Quietly I returned home afterwards.

Kapel van Joriskerk (2) St. Joris church.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 13-19.
The gate is firmly locked and the farm looks totally abandoned. I make camp along the dry river bed, with sufficient grass and some cover from shrubbery. It was a terrific day.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, May 13th, 54th travelday.
Tonight was not cold in my tent, but my sleep was disturbed. In the middle of the night I got up, because I heard strange noises. Eight enormous cows graze around my tent, togehter with the horses. The cows flee, when I use my flashlight on them; the horses stay where they are. At 8 I get up, just in time to meet the gaucho who arrived yesterday at his house. It is a funny sight: he is short and fat, mounted an enormous horse, whisteling a tune like yesterday evening. This time he halts and we talk a little. He must think of me as a funny guy as well: a large fellow on a pony-like horse. Departure is quick today. According to my map, these are wet-lands, now dry. The vegetation is accordingly, with lots of grass and even reed, nice smell from a variaty of plants and a watery sun completes the atmosphere: a beautiful day to travel. One worry is my extremely dry mouth, some days now. I assume a shortage of salt. In the next town I will try to find to supplements. We make good progress, at 4 o’clock we come to the connecting road RA20. To get to the intended farm, El Condor, is 11km at tarmac, so there is traffic too. From afar I see El Condor, but a bit earlier there is another farm: La Blanca, right along the road. It is funny to notice the reaction of my horses: after a day of travelling, they stop at every gate, like telling me, it was enough for today. At the farm I see nobody at first. There are dogs and the laundry is hanging out, so I suppose that someone will appear. And so it is: a somewhat uncertain young slow gaucho appears and helps me unpacking. Just when doing that, the boss appears by car, with four others. While carrying on unpacking, they inspect my lot and comment: horses (nice), luggage (to much), no bit? (very strange, unusual.). The boss is a nice fellow, and interested in my trip. He tells me about the woman who did not allow me to enter her farm, the other day. She is known, called Dora and indeed, she is tedious. I am lucky to meet them now, because tomorrow all but one go to a far away part of the estate. They treat me with a very pleasant evening: a sheep at the grill in the middle of the room (take your knife and cut off any piece you want), and side dishes.
Friday, the 55th travel day. The fire is on and the remaining two gauchos make maté, after which they depart as well. My young helping hand appears late. The horses did eat already, so I can start early. It is relaxed, talking a bit, drinking maté, chatting and packing with very willing horses, in the sun without much wind. It is lovely here, pleasant scenery in a valley with pure air and the scent of flowers and herbs. The horses find their own path, mostly on the tarmac. Just to try it, I steer them into the side of the road, but as soon as I let them, they return to the tarmax. The scent of skunks is sometimes very present in the air. More than ever I am aware of the importance of scent. Determination of the source is most of the time not possible, because I am no expert. Scent is however good enough to help me find water, human life and danger. I get a very happy mood, looking around me from the back of my horse.
At a certain moment a truck stops. The driver gets out of his car. He looks like a farmer and he looks somewhat angry. After a short greeting he starts to tell me off: ‘you must not ride your horses on the tarmac, it is dangerous because cardrivers – 5 per day!- are not accustomed to it. Furthermore, the hard tarmac underground is not good for the horses legs.’ As friendly as possible, I tell him that I am well aware of it, but since my departure from Ushuaia I let my horses choose their way and they choose mostly the tarmac. I thank him politely for his concerns and carry on, steering into the side of the road in order not to frustrate the man, leaving the man in shock behind.
This region is lovely: rolling hills, winding roads, terrific views, herds of cows, horses, geeze and juicy gras aside of the road. From time to time we come across a brook with crystal clear water. The horses keep a steady pace and when they consider it time to stop for the day, they just halt at every gate or in sight of a farm. They are not stupid, my horses. I have to argue a bit to continue, but that is just fun. We arrive in Gobernador Costa, in the second half of the afternoon, leaving plenty of time during daylight, to organize for the weekend.Through the ‘welcome’ gate of town, I drive to the petrol station, a Shell settlement with teenagers for your assistance. In these petrol stations they are usually equipped with all sorts of amenities, a shop, shower, toilets and snackbar. The teens don’t understand me and are only interested in flirting and music, but they manage to show me where the police station is. This town is built along the RA40 like a string. The police station is well organized, tidy and clean. I park my horses at a tree and enter the station, where I am met by an older friendly policeman and an attractive police woman. They hear me out, get enthousiastic and admire my horses. Then they make a phonecall to the ‘intendente’, a choosen sort of mayor. Ten minutes after the call, the mayor arrives with two assistants. They ask and I tell them what I would like to see happen. They ask for ‘time-out’ and disappear. One hour later, everything is arranged. Miguel will become my assistant for the duration of my stay. They show me around in the community van, after which I take my horses to a roomy meadow, with the horse of Miguel’s daughter. Jorge, another assistant helps me to unpack, loads everything in the van and drives me to a block of houses. These houses are for officials like teachers, police, community workers etc. I am housed in one of these, where a maths-teacher at primary and secondary level (Ivan) is living, with someone who is away for some days. Ivan is young, sporty and well informed. His car stands in the back yard. The house has three bedrooms, living, kitchen and bathroom. Hot water is made in an electrical thermotank. Gas comes from large cannisters, they only use it for cooking. For heating they use a small oil fired stove and a small potbelly stove. It is cosy. For their barbecue, they have a barn with a large open fireplace.
My gear goes into the barn, after which we introduce ourselves. When Miguel arrives, he asks if everything is alright. He than takes me with the van to feed my horses. I don’t have to take care of food for the horses; in the van Miguel has three bales of Alfalfa and a bag with grain. When I am back at ‘my’ house I share information with Ivan. He is born in Rio Pico, up to the West in the mountains. He shows me hundreds of pictures, mountains, snow and his schools. Ivan does volleyball, cycling and powerlifting. At 22:15 he is back from volleyball and makes a meal for us, some sort of spaghetti with an uninspiring sauce. After this meal, I don’t wait too long and go to bed.
Saturday, the 15th May. Today is full with maintenance. First I take my saddle bags to the shoemaker, two of them. They are very nice men, interested in my gear and admire my bags. They don’t need much explaning to see what is necessary. They also glue my shoe soles. After that I go to the hairdresser but that shop is closed. I return to home, pick up the materials for curing and maintenance the horses, as well as a large bag of old bread. The maintenance and treatment takes till 3 o’clock. I am hungry and go to the restaurant, where I enjoy a super diner for €8, soup, bottle of white wine, large T-bone steak, salad and peach with whipped cream for afters. While I am eating, the chef takes his car to buy cigarettes for me. After dinner and back home, I make fire in the stove. Ivan came home, very cold, he is glad to have a warm stove ready. I went shopping: cheese, ham, bread, lighter, chocolat, chips, cookies, grain (for the horses), red whine, marmelade. The butcher is special: there is only a pigsleg in the shop window and a ribbonsaw in the shop. I ask for a steak. He disappears behind his shop and return with a calf on his back. He makes up for sawing when I stop him and explain again what I wanted. Now he understand and produces 5 very nice pieces of steak. For how much? He waves me away: no payment necessary. Back at street I see the hairdresser being busy. I go in and half an hour later, my hair is cut short. It is dark by now and the street lighting is not working. At home, I find Ivan who heated sausages. He has to wait, because Jorge came to pick me up and feed the horses. They are impatiently waiting at the fence when I arrive. Back at home again, I cook a meal for Ivan and me. After dinner Ivan is clear: he did not have such a meal ever. We watch TV afterwards, shocking hard open sex and many other sports. At 1 o’clock I go to bed, knowing that it will be a very cold night.
Sunday. I did not sleep well: was it cold? Yes, it has been very cold. The sky is crystal clear. The horse’s drinkwater is covered with 5mm ice, I have to use force to break it. Nora does have a wound in her neck: was she bitten? I think so. I treated their sore spots and wounds, gave them their food. With the sun at my back it is soon pleasant. I watch them eating. They don’t drink but chew the ice. Jil is, as usual, defending his food: ears flat and threatening moving towards any other horse, even in another meadow. After feeding, I go back home and am busy writing and planning. Late at night, the second lodger arrives, looking very surprised. He, Angel, was away for a week, on a course.
Monday the 17th of May. I hear someone leaving, so it must be morning. When I look outside, I see it snowing. After feeding the horses I go back to the police station, drink coffee and eat some bread. Miguel gathered some documentation about Chubut for me. I make an appointment with the veterenarian. Julio takes me, in the police car, outside the village into the hills from where we make pictures.

 

Back in town I see the shoemaker and the carpenter for repairs and alterations. When the vet arrives he examines the horses. He is satisfied with what he sees, but thinks it necessary to provide Jil with antibiotics through injection. I dine in the most poche restaurant, served by a pretty girl. Later I hear that Ivan is trying to hook her. Ivan warned me for the carpenter: he asks too much for his work. The carpenter asked $40 for his job and I react indignant. Then he asks me what I think and I propose $25 which he accepts without further ado. Late at night Ivan returns from a cycling tour to Tecka, my next destination. He informs me about the farms I will come across along the road.
Tuesday. It is dry, but the strong wind is cold. Instead of walking around town, from carpenter to restaurant to police to meadow, I may use the mountainbike from Ivan. Michael Larrauri, the mayor, asked me to write in the towns guestbook. He asked me to write in Dutch, no problem. Yesterday evening a passing woman adressed to me as Michael: apparently I look like him with my short cut hair. Twice I tried to give Jil an injection, but I stopped trying. With the second try, I hit a muscle apparently, causing Jil to race into the meadow kicking his hindlegs. At the shoemaker I drink maté, while he complains about the lack of work. He worked already in Ushuaia, in Bariloche and in Rio1 Gallegos. His 6 brothers are doing the same: shoe making. Late this afternoon, the carpenter is ready with his work. The dry-cell battery is now fitted onto the back of the packsaddle, behind the solar panel. Ivan returns home late, with a bag of chorizo sausages. I did already eat, but I must join them, at 23:00 at night.
Wednesday, 19th May, 56th travel day.
Miguel wakes me up at half past seven. We get the horses from the meadow and tie them up near the town hall, where we feed them. Another horse followed us, but is soon picked up by someone with a headset. The weather is bad, strong and cold wind. Packing is slow due to the weather. I hug a lot of people good bye and leave around 11:30. After a while I stop, because I have to fasten everything anew. At 14:00 we arrive at a farm called Le Chalet. It looks like one: two stories and spires. I stop here for a while and am welcomed by a good looking woman. She takes me to a fenced off meadow with 15 horses already there. A canal is running alongside, so the horses can drink. When I am busy there a gaucho appears, to invite me to come to their quarters to eat. I am told they keep cows and sheep. I dress in my rainsuit when I leave, because it is already raining and the sky in front of me is threatening dark. Soon after leaving it starts raining a lot, with a strong ice-cold wind as well. At 16:30 I have covered approximately 25km when I come to a farm as told by Ivan the other day. I decide to call it a day and ride my flock to it. At first I don’t hear or see anybody, but soon enough 5 large dogs appear, together with a short dark person. At first he looks sceptical, but then he leads me and my horses into an enormous barn with an open stove burning. The barn is, at one side, loaded with bales of hay. My horses are standing next to one another, sluggish. A second type appears, big, heavy and with a Hitlerlike moustache. The three of us unpack the horses and they are led into a large, green and swamplike meadow. Back in the barn at the stove, we drink maté.

web wk 20-Provincie Chubut

I did arrive at Ea. Casa Rosa and my hosts are José and Arocca. Later I find out that there is a third man, Florentino >70 years old and stone deaf. They wonder about all my gear and we start weighing everything. I have once guessed, in Ushuaia, the weight of all to be 80kg. I have apparently managed to devide the load in respectively 40kg and 43kg. I am very pleased to find that I was right with my guess work. My own weight with saddle is now 86kg. In the past 6 month I have lost 15 kg of my own weight and that satisfies me. I feel great. Arocco tells me that he goed to Esquel, the 25th of May for local festivities. He assures me that I will not find a hotel bed, because of these festivities and advises me to seek refuge at the Gendarmeria or the police for myself and my horses. I thank him for his suggestion. At 19:30 we eat all together. They make it enjoyable with cheerful music from a casette deck. I make my bed on top of the stack of hay, together with the dogs. Outside the barn it is terrible weather now (dogs weather).

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Week 19-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 06-12.

Erwin Throwing water bombs.
This Sunday is the day after the birthday of Hessel. I was in Eemnes as usual. My daughter in law told that she cried a lot, yesterday, for the loss of her husband, Hessel, my deceased son. Her sister, with husband, arrived from Leeuwarden. It was good to have them and to be able to talk about it.

Terrace in Soest Soest-South.
I went shopping on Monday, in Soest. After the shopping I found a terrace in the sun, where I enjoyed coffee and some talk with another older person there. Later that afternoon I joined the other inhabitants, sitting at the terrace there. It did look a bit dangerous, because a sunshade detached from its fixings on one side.

Detached sunshade Detached sun shade.
The first days of this week were like in summer: hardly wind, spotless sky and warm. The detached sunshade was repaired on Tuesday, luckily. Lately there are some problems with the sewer system, partly due to the flushing of non-soluble materials through the toilet. The whole system was cleared by a specialised firm on Wednesday. They did find quantities of Aluminium foil in the system, indicating the use of narcotics. One of the female inhabitants approached me with the suggestion to arrange a date for me, with some woman she knows. She considered me the ‘perfect match’ for that woman, somewhere in the South of Holland. I made it crystal clear that I am not available for that kind of adventures. My answer was apparently quite a surprise and disappointment.
Thursday was Ascension Day. Usually I don’t go to services other than on Sunday, but this time I did feel the need to join. The service took place in the chapel, not in the main hall. The subject was Genesis, the story about Noah and the Flood.

Colors in the garden Colors from my balcony.
My sister in Leiden came back from a week holiday at Sicilia. She invited me for dinner so I went there, Friday afternoon. Just before the real rush hour, I turned off the highway A44 at Oegstgeest. Just in front of me, a large lorry also turned off and had to cross the A44 through a viaduct, like me. The lorry appeared too high and got stuck underneath the viaduct. At first, I waited a bit to see what would happen now, but it took too much time. Fortunately, there is a second option for me to get to where I want to be. I turned right instead of left and went to Katwijk. In Katwijk I entered the parking underneath the dunes. I had to really look for a free place. From the parking I took the elevator that takes me to the walkway to the beach house Key-West, where the family meet every year.

Katwijk Katwijk.

At Key-West I found the place crowded and the staff extremely busy. The staff had not foreseen this number of customers and had not hired extra serving staff to deal with it. I did not get a chance to talk to the proprietor to hire a changing cubicle for our family meeting. The cubicles where not even placed on the beach. I have to go there another day. So, I went back to my car, paid 29 cents for the parking and drove to my sisters’ place in Leiden. There I met their son Daan, with his wife and 1-year old daughter Lea. A friend of the family arrived at 6 when we had dinner. We exchanged the latest news and after a couple of pleasant hours, I returned home to Amersfoort.

Ducklings Ducklings.
After lunch on Saturday, I became sleepy and jumped in bed. I was asleep when the R.S.C.P.C. rang. They asked if I where available to take 4 tiny baby rabbits to the sanctuary in Amsterdam. I did like to do the trip and dressed. At the sanctuary in Amsterdam I got coffee, smoked a cigarette and walked around to see what other animals they keep. The sanctuary is nearly a small zoo. The funniest were two turtles, a big one and a small one. The small turtle crawled behind the big one, purposefully banging its head against the butt of the big one: a very funny sight of which I don’t know the meaning.

Turtles Turtles.

Back in my car, I rang an old friend, Joke in Muiden. Joke is one of the persons I know from 3rd grade at primary school in 1950. She was home, so I went to see her. We discussed a few subjects, like the horrible attack on three churches in Surabaya (Java) and her volunteers work as a home for homeless dogs, to keep them until they have found a new owner for the animal. In the evening, back home, I see some of the registration of the European Song Festival, this year won by Israel. I asked around, but nobody can tell me why Israel is allowed to perform at this European festival.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, May 06-12.
Tomorrow I may have another horse, which means that I have to stay here, in Alto Rio Senguer, a bit longer.

Argentina start foto

The 6th of May, Thursday. I slept very well, up at 07:30. To the police and joining maté. We changed the luggage carrier, because it lays on the horses back to much to the middle. At midday, the exchange horse arrives. She carries two adults without a saddle, two adults, Julio and a mate. The slender horse is a two-year-old mare. The swap cost me $100. My helpers tell me, they are usually training a horse to carry luggage: a couple of days only 10km, then 15km and so on till 40km a day, which is my planned maximum. I did not do that and so I destroyed the use of Sjors for some months. I make the swap and call this new horse Nora. After the swap I walk through the village, not as rectangular as most of the other places, with a nice parc in the centre. The local governmental representative, Ricardo Antanera, presides here with one important task: to arrange the distribution of a ration with 14 articles, every second month to the neediest in the region. He tells me that this programme runs all over Argentina. Ricardo takes me to the clinic of the vet, at the agricultural school. We go to the vet’s house where I get eyedrops for Jut. In the hotel where we go next, I meet Maria. Maria is a chubby woman, friendly, old fashioned. She came from Buenos Aires with the objective to start a pharmacy here. This village is exactly what I thought to find: gaucho’s riding happily on and off through the streets. I asked for a bale of hay, at a cost of $8. It did not arrive yet. The police man drives me to the shop in his own car. I find a shop where they sell tobacco and cigarette paper to roll my own. Back in the hotel I write my diary.
Friday. I slept very well and take a shower. Julio is just going with Nora to have her branded. I go to Jut and Jil for their maintenance: brushing, cleaning hoofs and fighting Jut’s head to apply eye drops. Jil does not want to lift his leg at first, he lifts it and puts it down straight away. All of a sudden however, he allows me work on them, and all four in one go! Jil likes to fool around! After lunch we shoe Nora, with ease: she is very nice. When that is done, Jorge start the production of a new pack saddle, a traditional one. Like everything here, it is done with scrap timber, scrap wire, unsuitable tools and on rickety tables. All policemen are watching, helping and producing comments. But it all leads to something. Fixing it to Jut’s back is not possible with the gear I have, but that is something for tomorrow. This saddle is very light and that is gain. When the work is done, we all share maté, the others admire the content of my backpack. This morning already, we arranged for the proper documentation to go with Nora. It is really funny; here the documentation cost me $0,10 while in Perito Moreno it was $20!!

Contract Document for Nora.
The hotel here is worth some detailed comments. They only serve a meal and that’s it. Leaving before 09:00 means that you have to break out. The owner handles the TV, he switches on or off without consulting guests. The owner is a dull person. The other hand is a tiny Chilean woman without front teeth but with beautiful long shiny black hear. In the evening nothing happens here, so I go to bed, early but that is lately the standard: I am getting used to it.
Saturday. After a late breakfast in the hotel, I buy cookies and mate. At the police station both the cookies and the mate disappear rapidly. Julio tells me that Nora does not get sufficient food, because Jil is kicking around to keep all for himself: I noticed that earlier. After due consideration I concluded that the new luggage carrier is not functioning: the load is too much on the spine. With Julio we go around and find an original pack saddle from a widow. After due consideration however, I choose to keep the construction made by myself with some alterations, in order to spread the load more to the sides of the back.
It is busy at the police station, because they did receive a brand-new drive shaft for their car. Behind the police station, the local youth are playing soccer, with two teams of girls as well. The ones not playing come up to me and ask me about the world. The girls are going into more detail than the boys. They keep me pretty busy causing a slowdown in my work with the pack saddle.
Back at Julio’s home, two street trading women appear. The cloths they have are expensive: jeans for $80. We talk about prices and salaries: a married policeman with 4 children (3 are school going) gets $750 net, inclusive the child benefit per child.
Sunday. It is a quiet day, nice weather, no wind and overcast. I feed the horses, separated them to ensure they all get their share. At the police station I drink maté with the only one present. He tells me they are basically undermanned with six men inclusive the chef. The car is ready, but only one of the policemen has a driving licence. For their work they have 4 horses, cared for by Julio. To cover their work, 7×24 with 6 men is difficult. When the bank is open, they have one man there for security. Early in the afternoon, a truck arrives with 60 hares and a beautiful fox hanging out. The fire brigade, all volunteers, is practising. Their equipment is a 40-year-old Ford with water but no fire engine. Only the siren and the flashing light are modern. The policemen are busy with their car again. Later I watch a soccer game at the station. Back at the hotel I see an interesting film about Kosovo.
Monday, 10th of May, 51st travel day.
The wind is strong and cold today. I feed the horses. They are eating and I drink mate with the police and Julio. Julio is, of course, helping with preparing the horses for travelling. We load Nora with the new made saddle and Jil with my original pack saddle. I do a trial run, after which we fasten the saddles again. It seems to function. The 80 kg of luggage is now spread over two horses and I like it. We make a picture in front of the police station, before I leave.

Crew Alto Rio Senguer Crew, before departure.
The wind is coming from behind, fortunately. The terrain is, for a short while, like a Dutch swamp. Soon we come to a fence where the gate is hardly wide enough to allow passage with a horse carrying luggage. After the passage we come to grassland with lots of cows. After the link with RA56 the countryside changes again, into the usual desert with prickly bushes. Left of me, nearby, are the mountains while to the right I have the immens plane.

Patagonia after Alto Rio Senguer Patagonian scenery.
I left late, at 13:00, for a short trip of 16km to a ‘pueste’, a single settlement, laying 1km inland. I see the settlement but no path towards it. I turn into the country until I hit a fence, follow the fence hoping to find a gate. I find no gate but a cattle grid. After passing that grid, I reach the settlement, dead silent. The settlement consists of a large barn and some sort of a home. One door is closed with a proper padlock, the other with a bit of wire. I brake into the place and find a large room, without any furniture but with a large open fireplace, a lot of firewood, a bottle with oil and a fuse. I also see a half full bottle with the sauce they use to season their meat. From a beam hangs a large leg from an ostrich.
The space for the horses is plenty, but there is not much grass and no water. On my way here, we passed a small stream with crystal clear water. They can drink there tomorrow. The large barn is full with sheepskins and the remains of an ostrich. A cat with 5 kittens completes the scene. I made a fire in the room where I will stay overnight. I cook and write my diary by the light of my own battery: it works perfectly well, thanks to the solar panel I carry with me at the back of one of my horses.

Funny postcard Argentine art.
Tuesday, 11th of May, 52nd travel day. I am up very early. Packing the horses without light, there is no moon, is no option. I have to wait. At 9:30 I am underway. There is no wind, the air temperature is pretty low. The road is straight like a ruler and seemingly endless. Slowly the view however changes, with hill and mountains right, left and in front. Looking back, I see only flat: desert. No more than 5 lorries pass me, all loaded with fire-wood: they burn Patagonia. After 30km, I spot a large farm. The farm borders the road. A woman of age awaits me at the entrance and refuses me bluntly to enter or help me with anything, like water for my horses: she argues that they themselves have difficulty providing water for their own stock. A friendly gaucho, with a slaughtered marsupial in his hand, tries to argue against her refusal to help, but the women tells him off. Further up the road, 3km away, I will find a house she says. My horses are tired and thirsty, so at the nearby bridge across a dry river I make camp. A few puddles of water in the riverbed are sufficient for my horses. Around me I see sufficient food for the horses. I will sleep underneath the bridge. I write my diary by the light of the sunset. The silence is deafening, I don’t hear a sound from the nearby farm, but I hear my horses grazing. A single bluebottle disturbs the silence; amazing.
Wednesday, 12th of May, 53rd travel day.
I slept in my pyjamas for the first time in 3 days. During the night I have been out for a pee. I then did not see my horses but now, at daylight, I find them close by and together. Saddling is difficult, because it is so cold that my fingers feel frozen. I ride Nora, without a bit. She had to learn, but after a view difficult hours, she reacts properly on my signals. The scenery is now friendlier, with hills all around. After 1,5 hours driving (so not half an hour as suggested by the women yesterday) I come to a small farm. The two domestic gauchos are very friendly and offer me soup with bread. There are lots of horses. A third gaucho, old and missing an ear, is a guest as well. He is just leaving when I arrive. The domestic gauchos tell me that this man is also a tourist, but a poor one: he is travelling till he dies. The man is travelling with 10 horses and 2 foals: his whole property. The man departs and the two gauchos watch him go, compassionate. The man does not go very fast, because his horses spread out all around. My horses are fed hay and water. Another man arrives with a truck. Also this man eats soup and bread. The gauchos are puzzled and amazed from my story. They advised me to unsaddle ‘because the horses would start rolling over’, which I have never noticed them doing, so I don’t unsaddle. The gauchos are amazed to see that my horses are not rolling over. When they see how tame they are and when I tell them that I ride them, even the 2-year-old Nora, without a bit, they are amazed. After this very enjoyable intermezzo, I continue after they told me that I am not going to find any settlements along my way for some time. Already soon we pass the gaucho with one ear. He is struggling with his herd while we pass. We make good progress and arrive at 5 o’clock at a clear stream where we all drink (me too), then comes a dry river and soon the gate to a farm. The gate is firmly locked and the farm look totally abandoned. I make camp along the dry river bed, with sufficient grass and some cover from shrubbery. It was a terrific day.

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Week 18-2018. Amersfoort/ Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 29-May 05.

Eemnes Eemnes shopping.
Sunday, 29th April. This was the day after the King’s day. Many celebrated and came home early in the morning. In the afternoon I was in Eemnes, to watch the Formula-1 race in Baku. That race resulted in disappointment for the fans of Max Verstappen. He crashed his car together with his team mate Ricciardo.
On Monday I went back to Eemnes, because I left my agenda there, yesterday. Further that day, I did some administrative work.
The days after that went by without special memorable events: quiet and with good prospects for the weather in the oncoming weekend.

Walking through nature: colours and fallen trees.
One of the new tenants here, is a 50y old women. She had told me already about her adventures on a dating site. Now she had an appointment and told us about the meting with this man. She was very satisfied.
For the first time since long, I took my bicycle to go to the supermarket at the Leusderweg. First, I had to place new valves in the tyres, because someone likes to steal those or just remove them to satisfy his sick mind. I did not hurry and it was a pleasant ride through town.
On Friday, the 4th of May is the Nacional Memorial Day. I don’t participate actively but follow all on TV and get emotional on various occasions. Every year again, there are individuals or groups that feel the need to misuse this day to draw attention to their personal frustration.

De vlag hangt Dutch National flag out.
The 5th of May will always be a day of mixed feelings since it is the Nacional Liberation Day, but also the birthday of my son Hessel, who died to young last year. Liberation Day will never be the same since. Two of the boys from Hessel’s family organised their own Memorial Day. I was invited to join them for lunch and a walk through the area where my son and his wife used to walk. Their initiative is definitely showing appreciation for him.

Wandelen in landgoed Groeneveld (1) Memorial walk.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, April 29-May 05.
The 44th travelling day. Tomorrow morning the boss and his wife will return here. It is getting pretty cold when I go to bed.

Argentina start foto

Thursday, 29th April, 45th travelling day. The days are clearly shortening, daylight comes late and night starts early. The planning for today is to get close to estancia Victoria, 26 km. The winding road calls for an attempt to take short-cuts. I know that I will meet lots of fences to cross. After rounding a hill, I see the road at a totally strange position and I realise that my direction is totally wrong. I take the cordillera as guide and turn to a south-westerly course. I come across a skunk by surprise, for the skunk as well as for me: it sprays me. I have never had the pleasure of such an occasion and I am surprised to notice that I find the smell not really repugnant. The smell stays however for a long time. Sjors and Jut go past the fences with ease, Jil always needs a running start to pass pulled down fences. I lost a lot of time crossing fences and repacking my luggage on Sjors. At 18:00 o’clock I stop in the middle of nowhere, erect my tent by the light of the lamp produced in Perito Moreno. After that I cook, eat and go to bed.
Friday. I was up to early to my liking. A clear sky and lots of light from the moon. I decide to stay in bed for a while and am now up at 08:30. I have to change that attitude, because now it is a lot colder.

toerisme Tourism in Chubut.

Today I ride Sjors, for the first time but without a bit. It works super, no problem at all. We make good progress, I think, because I have no means of measuring it. To my surprise we arrive at the foreseen crossing RA55. My plan was to stop around 5 o’clock. A truck stops. I know the driver from Perito Moreno. He acknowledges my assumption that something I see to the right, is indeed an estancia. When I arrive there, I see that they are busy with construction work. The farm is called El Relincho, with Daniel Enrique Diaz. Diaz comes later, from another farm where they keep Guanacos. His wife watched my entry with her binoculars. One of the young men is tiler, working in the bathroom. First the horses go into a coral with only very little grass, but later on they are going onto a meadow where two others are already grazing. I join the people, 12 in all. The tiler learned his trade in Madrid, he is clearly better educated than all others. The evening with them is enjoyable. In the shed where they let me reside, I have an open fireplace where I make a fire. Pleasant warm to start the night.

Chubut Gendarmeria at work in Chubut.
Saturday, 1st May, 47th travel day. It has been freezing, making the preparations this morning very slow. I see no horses, but when I whistle they arrive very quick. I feed them the rest of the grain I have for them. Daniël makes me a description of the way to the guanaco farm. I don’t find it. We arrive at the edge of the high plain. In front I have the valley with the river Mayo and to the right I see the settlement called Rio Mayo. To get there from where I stand, I have to travel down a 60% slope, 50 meters high and all gravel. I descend with Sjors on a rope. When I start going down the slope, Jut and Jil are standing still, but after a while they decide to follow us. Like this we meander down. It is not easy, but we manage. Halfway down I find a tiny well with crystal clear water. We arrive in the valley without accidents. Later, at arrival in the settlement (~3500 inhabitants), some friendly local guides us to the barracks from the Gendarmeria, where my three horses join the horses belonging here.

esc. Rio Mayo

They get everything they need here: food, water, company and plenty space to stroll and relax. I checked the hoofs, 12 hoofs, and only found a large stone stuck in a hoof of Sjors. Gomez, one of the soldiers knows a way to remove it. I only take my two saddle bags when I am taken to hotel El Viejo Covadonga. I settle in a room with a good bathroom. After a little rest, I join the birthday party of the local radio station. It is not much party: 20 men hang about at the bar.
Sunday the 2nd of May. Breakfast in the hotel is enormous and I enjoy it. During breakfast, a young woman and two men approach me: they interview me, camera running all the time, for regional television. I will never see the result. A fierce wind is pushing through the valley when I walk to the Gendarmeria. At arrival my three horses approach me immediately. Jil has pleasure in stealing buns from me. One of the soldiers shows me around in his car: 10 minutes work. In the hotel I join a lorry driver who covers, for his employer, all of Argentina, Chili, Bolivia and Paraguay. Just before nightfall, I return to my horses to feed them, work a bit on my equipment and talk with the soldiers. One of them is instructor for the local riding school: ‘centro de instrucion equestere YAPEYU’. Back at the hotel I chat with the lorry driver and with the Bulgarian women owing the hotel.
Monday, 48th travelling day. I am up early and pack. After a good breakfast and chat with the female owner, I carry my luggage on foot to the Gendarmeria. At 9 the two soldiers appear. They like my pack saddle and make a sketch of it. At 10:30 I leave: it is terribly cold and windy. The road is boringly straight, with only few references to where I am or go. I judge the found references as inconsistent and disappointing. Late in the afternoon I have to take measures to get Sjors going. For the first time I dress up extra, to deal with the low temperature. The hood I wear now is not pleasant for my glasses and I take those in my hand. At a certain moment I notice that I lost my glasses and I return to look for them. Fortunately, I spot them sparkling undamaged among the gravel of the road. The sun goes under, blood red and fast. Clouds are appearing and I fear for storm and hail. It is soon pitch dark and I still did not see any cover to stay for the night. At a gate I get blinded from an approaching car, but at the same place I spotted some stationary light nearby. After a couple of minutes, I come to a fairly big house, where I find three men and three boys. They allow me to use a shed where I can spend the night, together with my three horses. In the house I join the men: they disappear and at 21:30 I am left with only the housekeeper. He does not offer me anything, so I go to my shed, totally worn out. I eat a dry bun. The weather is awesome, heavy storm. I fall asleep, no matter those 12 hoofs nearby.
Tuesday, 4th of May, 49th travelling day. I wake up at 3 at night. The moon is shining. I sleep again, till 08:30: the sky is pitch black with very threatening clouds. A couple of times at night: I feared for my shed, to be blown away. My host Eladio, shares maté with me. I consider staying here because of the hostile weather, but Pastos Blancos is nothing more than 5 or 6 houses spread around. I saddle up, get a pack of cigarettes and a bag of bins and leave. Payment? No absolutely not: ‘Bon viaje y suerte’. The horses chose to take the road rather than the field with stones, holes and prickly bushes. There is no traffic, the road is a straight line and the strong wind comes from ahead. I see an ostrich and a guanaco, sometimes. There are, again, only few reference points and, again, they appear inconsistent. I found out that many people here don’t talk in terms of meters, but in terms of Llewa, which is something like 12 kilometers. Most people now only the time they need to go from A to B. I have to be very specific and make sure which they mean when they tell me how far, or how long it is to my intended destination. I manage to stop a car, carrying his wife and 6 sheep. It is nearly dark, when I come to the crossing with RA43, some 14km before Alto Rio Senguer. At a bridge across a river I notice the situation: flat, wet and plenty grass. There are no buildings around and I can see the street lights from Alto Rio Senguer. It is pitch dark when I have to restack the luggage carried by Sjors. I don’t feel like doing that in the dark and just than I see a car approaching. I halt the car, which they do very carefully because it is of course strange to see someone in the middle of the road at a strange place. The driver switches on his emergency lights and that causes a lorry to stop also. They help me unpack Sjors. Mr. Le Briel, the driver of the car, will transfer my luggage to the first inhabited location on the road. They carry on and I do that to, using the light of my lantern. After half an hour driving, focussed on lights that are seemingly not coming closer, I turn around to see how Jill and Sjors are. I don’t see Jil. He must have stayed behind. I return, but after a while I give up and want to continue towards the light when I manage to stop a car. They take me and my two horses to the first building at the road. At that building there is one light on, outside. There are no people, but my luggage is there, fortunately. The building is large, with many sheds around and four lorries. I thank the man who took me and the horses there and take Jut and Sjors to a place where I suspect to find grass. I lay my sleeping bag in one of the buildings which is only partly covered with a rood, next to a pit. I have no idea what else is there, because the batteries of my lamp are down. In the middle of the night I wake up, with moonlight. Now I see where I am: on a reasonably clean floor in a workshop. I dismiss the idea to look for Jil in the middle of the night.
Wednesday, 5th of May, 50th travel day. Today is the birthday of my son.
Wake up at 8 o’clock. It is not cold and there is no wind. Sjors lays down for dead, with Jut next to him. I replace them to a terrain with two other horses and water. A car with a female driver and a boy arrives. They don’t approach me, so I go see them in the big house. She appears to be the sister of the guy doing business here: he will arrive later today. The woman agrees to help me look for Jil, but she is in a hurry to go to work in town. So, after a short trip she returns and brings me to the Gendarmeria in Alto Rio Senguer. I find there a somewhat sad situation: they don’t have horses, no car, no bicycle, no telephone. They have radio, that’s all. But they are friendly and helpful. Their one and only car stands on blocks with a broken clutch. They direct me to the police for help, where they manage to find me someone who will help me look for Jil: cost $10. With a third person we share maté after which we start looking. We find Jil standing a bit dopey at the road side, some three kilometres away from where I slept. We take him to the place where Jut and Sjors still are. I prepare the three and ride to town. I ride Sjors and I am sure he is sick: his sides are bouncing, he had problems breathing. At the police station they have a terrain where the three can stay. The policemen will provide water. Now I go look for a bale of hay which cost me $10, twice as much as in Perito Moreno. I tell the four men in the local bar: muy caro (expensive), which causes some hilarity but it also brings me a coffee with cognac. One of the big guys drives me around: to the police station with the bale of hay, photos with the children of the policemen and with my battery for repair to a mechanic. The mechanic, for TV’s has a flu but he is very interested in my story and willing to help. He did inform a young man, Hector Eduardo Larrea, who travelled all of Argentina (7000 kms) in 1,5 years. Logically we share stories and that is fun.
Back at the police station I am told that Sores has a sore back and they propose to exchange Sores for another horse at a cost of $100. Tomorrow the man will come with his exchange horse.

 
In the local hotel I slept a hole in the day after a good meal. There are two gentleman and a silent woman; she reads and listens. From the oldest gentleman I get a cognac and two packs of cigarettes. He appears to be someone with locally a lot of influence. It smells like mafia here, with most of the inhabitants of Italian descent. Later that day, I try to find a telephone to ring my son, in order to congratulate him with his birthday. I don’t find a telephone at the Gendarmeria, nor at the police station. Finally, I am allowed to use the telephone in the local ‘supermarket’. I ring and get his girlfriend Monique: at 01:00 o’clock. The cost of the call: $15, which is not bad. Everybody in this village, with ~1500 inhabitants, is now aware of my arrival and they are all very nice. I have plenty contacts and plenty to talk. Tomorrow I may have another horse, which means that I might have to stay here a bit longer.

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