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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.