The whole week was a bit dull. Not really something special. I stayed at home most of the time, apart from going to the supermarket for food.
From the landlord we received a letter, about the use of public areas: they need to be free of objects and that appears to be a problem. A number of tenants don’t read those rules (given from the governmental fire and safety department) and our landlord does not enforce application. And enforcement by tenants is in this case wishful thinking.
Last year I ordered a kitchen machine. At their site it said that ‘delivery’ would take 5 days after receipt of payment. After payment I did receive a confirmation stating that deliver would be ‘approx.’ within three weeks. I am now waiting four weeks, so I rang the firm. So far it did not lead to a delivery.
Walking around ‘Stichtse Rotonde’.
The present population in the flat consists of single women but mostly men and mostly young men. These persons are all having social or emotional problems and that is why they were given a chance to live a decent life on their own in their own apartment. A number of them are not capable of living in a community. In the cellar, where we park our bicycles, there are thefts and destruction of private items as well as of general items. Some of the youngsters placed here, at the cost of the taxpayer, are feeling unsafe. As usual in these circumstances, there is only one rotten apple required to contaminate the whole basket.
The ongoing demolition of a hospital.
On Saturday one of the tenants, he lives opposite me and I have known him to live there for 10 years now, created a tense situation with another neighbour. At midday he, aroused so much trouble that my real neighbour threatened to kick him in the face. My neighbour was sensible and went away, solving the problem for now at least.
Argentina on horseback. 1999, January 7-13.
This week is the week of truth: I paid all my depts. and I do have everything I need.
On Thursday I go to town to buy the last necessities. On Friday I did buy a dry cell battery because by now it was very clear that an ordinary car battery was a very bad idea. Acid from the battery did cost me a lot of problems. I had to get rid of many items affected by the battery acid.
On Friday the 8th I had my first ‘travel day’. From there on I am going to register them. At six o’clock I started packing which took me till midday, and after having taken a picture with the children at the centro hipico, I left. In town I was confronted with the usual attacks from the many dogs. They are not violent but merely making a lot of noise. I carried on and ended up at a petrol station at the outskirts of town. I was allowed to erect my tent there and stay overnight, which I did. I did get some visitors there, locals but also from Buenos Aires.
On my way, the 2nd travel day, I am met with again journalist taking pictures and asking me all sorts. One of the guys stopping is a governmental fellow: ministry of economic affairs for Tierra del Fuego. I am invited to pass by his hacienda on the way up North.
I have numerous problems with my luggage to solve, but I consider that all part of the deal. At a certain moment I will have reached a situation where I can say that I am ‘in control’.
I arrive at some sort of a camping, called ‘Las Cotorras’, completely rigged for winter sport activities. They have sledge-dogs, trikes, quads and everything for hire. It is not the season so I am welcome to stay for the weekend. It did not take long before I was completely accepted by the staff. In their restaurant I am served a good dinner, with 1 kg tender beef, potatoes and Brussels sprouts. After an interesting evening with the staff, the owner and his family, I go asleep in my tent.
The next morning, Sunday, I wake up around eleven o’clock, with aching muscles. My host comes up and asks my permission to use one of my horses: he wants to go into the mountains to search for his horses.
Monday morning, the 3rd travelling day: After breakfast, with Antonio, the dogs’ keeper, and Carlos, the cook, I get a bag with rolls and a bag with apples and oranges. I am not allowed to pay anything. It takes half an hour to start riding, because of the farewell ceremony: cuddles, hugs, kisses and well wishing.
The weather has changed dramatically, it is raining cast and dogs. The first loss: my poncho is gone. I get soaking wet. On the mud road, this is highway no.3, the Pan-American highway, a group of large SUVs’, mostly Pajero’s, come up to me and stop. They are Michaela and Caecilia, two girls riding at the Centro Hipico ‘Fin del Mundo’, with Mr. Martinelli and two media crews, for TV and radio. They are on a publicity tour for Martinelli’s political party. The crews film me and they interview me. After hugs and kisses, they continue and so do I.
We are climbing now, through the mountains and across a pass called Garibaldi. The view is spectacular and the water in lakes and streams is crystal clear: I have no problem drinking it. At Lago Escondido I stop at a large sawmill, put up my tent and cook a meal, for the first time. For Jul and Jil there is plenty grass to eat and water to drink.
Tuesday, the 4th travelling day. A guy with a pick-up comes talking to me. He has a camping some 30km away up North, one day of driving. He invites me there and points out that it is necessary to evaluate after 4 days of travelling. I don’t disagree and promise him to come. It’s along the road anyway.
For the first time we come to a steel grid in the road, to prevent horses, cows and sheep to wander away from their designated area. My horses don’t want to cross it either, so I have to look for a way out. I find a gate, it is closed but an old man there leads me through an opening in the fence. Now I am driving off route 3, along Lago Fagnano, a tourist attraction. Buses with tourists from Ushuaia come up here for the view. It is a ‘moon’landscape, totally deserted, with the remains of wildfire. It is clearly not a ‘trodden’ path. I am on my way to Tolhuin, have to cross a mud river, through peat, extremely high grass and clouds of enormous mosquitos. We go through thicket, jump across a partly fallen fence and back to a path. Again, we come to a locked fence and have to do a detour to get back to route 3. After this very intense day of travelling, we arrive at ‘Los Alamos’, where we are welcomed warmly. Oscar Zapato appears to be the big boss here. After unpacking the horses, they get a large meadow with good grass and plenty water. I am asked to join ‘the family’, consisting of two women, four men and approximately 12 children of various ages, colours and types. The stove is on, with more fire outside of it then inside. My nose is very pleased with the scents of tasty food.
The Zapato family and their living quarters.
Outside some men are skinning beavers while another is training one of the many dogs. This is their trade: catching and skinning beavers, breeding and training dogs, and running a camping. After the noisy and very humorous dinner, the whole family stays inside to enjoy ‘my company’. I filmed the whole lot.
The next morning, the 5th travel day, we work on my horses and gear. It leads to many alterations. After breakfast and later an early lunch, I am ready to leave when an official arrives from Tolhuin. The men in the car are from the home guard, sent from the maire to make sure that I reach Tolhuin safely. How nice this is. Oscar and his son are saddling their horses, because they are joining me for an hour or so. On the way they catch some horses running free (from other farms). Close to Tolhuin, Oscar and his son left me a while ago, I am met by a car with flashing light. Two men, equipped with mobile phones, pick me up and invite me to a meeting with the ‘intendente’. I turned it down, because I felt a bit in a hurry to meet my appointment with Mr. Martinelli at Punta Maria, on the road to Rio Grande.
I did find a very nice place to put up my tent for the night: a small river with a nice patch a juicy grass for Jut and Jil.