View from home.
With my brother, his wife and an old local woman with walking problems, we go to the local church on Sunday. After the service, my sister in law goes back to the village on foot. We, the remaining party, are enjoying coffee and cake in the church and chat. There is a man from up North, visiting his daughter and a woman originating from Switzerland. With them I can communicate in English and German. The local woman we took with us, Henriette, is good in English too: long ago she and her deceased husband visited our parents in Leiden.
The whole family was invited to have dinner at home with the youngest daughter. Before dinner I had an appointment to go fishing for an hour or so, but that was postponed due to the late arrival of their son. S, we, 9 persons in all, gathered in time for dinner. After the joyful dinner, I played the piano with my niece: four hands Diabelli. That was good fun, even though I did not practice for many-many years.
Another grey day.
From Holland, I took a fruit/vegetable drier as a present for my family. The whole week, my sister in law has been busy trying to produce chips in it, which so far did not lead to a satisfactory result. Nearly every day, after breakfast, we dress up for a good walk in the forest through untrodden snow. My lack of breath is reason to keep these walks limited. At a spot in the forest, thought to be comfortable with sufficient dead wood to make a good camp-fire and a bit protected against the ice-cold wind, we settle down to have coffee with cake. When the cake and the coffee is finished, we put out the fire and walk back, either back home or back to the car.
Too cold for fishing.
At home, I have been sorting documentation written by my father. Part of that documentation is probably interesting for one of the sons of my daughter in law. I promised him, to do this sorting and take interesting parts with me, back to Holland for him. My brother and I went to a shop in Drøbak, where we bought a new fishing rod. That was necessary because the rod my brother had, was lost in space: he could not find it. A secondary rod looked okay at first sight, but from the reel there was a part missing, which made the whole rod useless.
View to Verket.
On Friday, the son of my brother had planned to go fishing again. This time we met at a place called Storsand. All of us, that are my nephew, his girlfriend, my brother and me, decided it was to cold at that place-it was minus 8 degrees with a strong wind from the North. We went to another place called Skogsborg, closer to home and with less wind. We did do some fishing, but it was still extremely cold, so we made a camp-fire, cooked sausages with pancakes, had coffee and skipped the fishing.
View back from Verket.
The week started with temperatures around the freezing point, with some snow, sometimes even rain. The second half of the week was what you might expect in Norway: not too much wind, but cold and sunny.
I enjoyed it all the way.
Argentina on horseback. 1999, January 28-February 03.
The previous week was difficult. One of my horses appeared to be unfit and refused to carry on. So I stopped at a farm, where they promised me to check the ability of both my horses to do, what I planned to do.
In the morning of Thursday, the 28th of January, a local ageing Indian comes and looks at my gear and my horses with an expert view. He talks to the boss at the farm, after which the boss tells me what he thinks the situation is:
– Jut, the horse refusing to carry on, is over 20 years old and definitely not good for the journey;
– Jil, the other horse, is approximately 18 years old and a good horse.
We talk about the situation and I decide to leave Jut behind. He will stay at the farm and have a nice ‘old age’ as a pensioner. This means however that I need another horse. I am allowed to stay at the farm to think about the near future.
In the evening, another stranger arrives on a bicycle. He is Jorge from Spain, on his way to Venezuela, like me. Jorge tells many stories: he used to be lorry driver. He went on his bike from Spain to Tibet. He once met a German on a camel travelling through Africa and a guy who had been travelling for 18 years. All amazing stories. In the evening I write a message to my friend in Ushuaia, about the horses, about the heavy military support for luggage which I am sending back to him and about my further plans.
On Friday I meet the manager again. He will organize the transport of my luggage to Rio Gallegos and I will go there with only the absolute minimum on luggage in a bag.
Saturday morning I am ready to leave, with a good deal of food for the day. There is a lot of wind today. At first I have my bag at the back of my saddle, but that is not ideal. I keep the bag in front of me and that works alright. We ride along the coastline. There is only little traffic on the road and the wind is getting worse. In a dune pan I take time for lunch and fall asleep. Noise from hammers is waking me up: seven men with two cars are erecting poles with boards and election posters. I come across a café where horses are waiting. There is water for Jil. In the café I meet an Austrian guy on the way hitchhiking. After an hour of talking, coffee, smoking and a beer, I leave and just around the corner I am at the Argentinian border. Passing does not take long. Jil prefers to go through the fields with juicy grass and we make good progress. It is a beautiful landscape, with high cliffs, an unsurfaced meandering road and a wide green stretch of land between the hills and the sea. We pass a cattle grid without problems because it is full with sand and soil. The next cattle grid is to difficult so we go through the muddy river on either side. Next we come to a fence without a gate. We climb up the hill which is quite demanding but fun. At the top I believe to see a gap in the fence a bit away. There we manage to cross and carry on high above the surrounding flat land. It is absolutely fabulous, progress and total freedom. After a while, I spot the Chilanian border. Still at some distance from the border we come across another cattle grid with on either side a solid looking fence. We covered the distance between the two borders, eleven kilometers, much faster as envisaged, but this new fence is a real problem. I park Jil there and a car just coming up takes me to the border. At the border I try to get permission to pass and the staff is really helpful, but in the end I get the message that I will only get permission to pass when my horse is in a closed lorry. That may well become a problem, but it is what it is. With another car I go back to where I left Jil. It is then 23:00 o’clock when I start the return trip, through the hilly area by full moon. It is terribly cold now, but the ride is fabulous. Foxes are looking in amazement and fleeing in front of us. Back at the Argentinian border they direct me to a nearby estancia. Fifteen minutes after midnight I arrive at estancia San Martin in San Sebastian. The staff there is still up. They provide me with a warm shed to store Jil and for me to sleep there. But first we talk, eat and talk again. Around 2 o’clock we go to bed. I left Jil outside.
The next days I will stay here, to organize a lorry to take me and Jill across the ‘street of Magellan’ and to the Argentinian border on the main land, off Tierra del Fuego.
At the estancia I join into the daily routine. They are rounding up all their sheep for shearing. I go with Jil to help them getting the herds from all over the place. Some guys are doing the rounding up with a quad, but I am faster with Jil, certainly when the quad runs out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. The sheep shearing is done by travelling shearers. They travel by bus with all their equipment, from estancia to estancia. Food is not a problem: in the herds of sheep there are always a number of lesser lucky ones. These unlucky ones, crippled or otherwise disabled, are slaughtered and eaten straight away.
Jil is also having a good time, getting a lot of attention from the local Criollo horses around here.
The family Torres, boss Pablo, wife Ladi Itati Romero and two boys, are very helpful and hospitable. I am allowed to stay and join in their daily life. It is lovely. Even the usually fierce wind and freezing cold is unable to temper my mood. From time to time we go to the one and only café to play pool and drink beer.
Now I am getting aware of pain in my but: my sitting bones are sore and that is going to be a problem for some while.