As usual I went to church, this time alone. After the service I went to see my friend. The problems with the electricity and the heating are solved, fortunately. I walked Toots to her known area, where she chased two very large roes. When she came back to me, her nose was bleeding and her body was extremely dirty. She clearly had a good time.
After the hunt.
After that I went to see my grandson, who appeared with a head full of make-up. He looked discusting but he was happy with it and that counts.
Monday and Tuesday were days of absolute inactivity: I was never so lazy. May be it is due to the amount of interesting sports from Pyongghang. I cannot avoid looking at these registrations.
After shopping on Wednesday, I force myself to write my diary and to publish my blog with a sigh: at last.
This Thursday I have an appointment to have lunch with a friend since 1990, a former nurse. She is now not working but caring, on her own, for her two teenager kids. It is an easy day for me, because she is unstoppable talking. I had planned to go to Amersfoort, but she opted for Leusden. So we had lunch in Leusden, not far from here but I never go there.
For lunch in Leusden.
After this I make a huge amount of chilli con carne, enough for at least a week. I eat one meal and store the rest in my freezer.
On Friday I consider it necessary to change my bed. I have to go to the hospital restaurant to buy tookens for the washing machines.
Around my living.
I use two machines to wash all my laundry. When hung up to dry, on my balcony, it looks like a real ‘household’. After doing the laundry, I searched in my cellar box and found more documentation from my trip in Argentina. I will fit it into the lot I already sorted out.
The laundry is dry on Saturday. After making my bed, I do some shopping again, because I wanted to eat a healthy salad.
Argentina on horseback. 1999, February 11-17.
10th February. My horse, Jil, is happy in his lodge: El Algibe. Back in the hostel I am interviewed on TV. I have to reorganise my luggage and my plans. There are items to be repaired, my shoes for instance. But first things first: I ask around for a second horse to buy.
11th February, Thursday. I had a ‘sleep in’. In a good mood I went around town, looking for someone to make saddle bags for me. I found one and ordered them to be made the way we agreed, after a good deal of discussion and drawing. On either side of the horse I will now have custom made bags, for instance to carry 10×2 ltr. plastic soft drink bottles with water.
Rio Gallegos is a modern town with only square blocks and two main streets.
The harbour is boasting one quay and a lot of scrap metal. Cars are usually very old, near to antique, and heavily dented. Some bicycles I spotted and horses on the road appear just as unusual as in Holland. I don’t want to take a taxi, so I pick up Jil and go around mounted. People are filming us. I visit the mother of a woman I met just after entering the mainland. The mother is ‘old British’ so she talks in English. I am invited to return any time, for tea (surprise).
Back at the hostel, I am being introduced to a certain ‘medio loco Oscar’. He suggests me to join him and go to his hide-out in the neighbourhood of El Calafate, some 5 hours driving from Rio Gallegos. He seems to keep a lot of horses there. Around 22:00 o’clock we leave; Oscar (40y), his girlfriend Carina (19y) and I. He drives an old Ford Rancho pick-up, only 1st and 3rd gear working, and the drive shaft is often disconnected, no heating and it is bitterly cold. It is no problem. On the way we come across a stranded car without fuel. Oscar connects the stranded car to his and we tow it to a sort of hostel in the middle of nowhere along the road at Rio Bote. We carry on at road nr.40, into the direction of ‘Tres Lagos’. Until Rio Bote the road was asphalted, while road nr. 40 is a dirt road. After a while we turn right, onto a track straight into the dark night. The sky is clear but there is no moon. After half an hour across the wilderness the car halts. Something is failing. Oscar starts to investigate, finds the problem and groans. A tube is burst. He sets fire to a view bushes around the car and works his way through the engine. After 20 minutes he solved the problem, how, I don’t know. After again half an hour of driving we arrive at a set of sheds at 04:00 o’clock. The resident gaucho appears and also his female friend (or wife) Yeya. Food is prepared and eaten, while busy talking. A bed is prepared for me.
After a short sleep Victor, the gaucho, disappears and returns with 20 horses. Bambina, the local tame guanaco is joining and nosing into everything.
The sun is shining: a beautiful day with a terrific view. This first lot is mainly mares with foils, no horse for me. After lunch Victor comes again with at least 20 horses, a bit older with 4-6 years. Talking, laughing and viewing I make my choice and the horse is saddles. I ride it and fall of it with saddle and all. Later that day, we all go into the truck hunting for hare, guanaco or ostriche. The landscape is fabulous, along Lago Argentina.
14th February. We go for a ride, all of us. It is not possible to have 5 persons in the cabin, so Victor is staying in the open container. We go past Lago Argentina with its blue and cold looking water with, snow on the mountain peaks and the wide fast flowing river Rio Leone. In Très Lagos, 2 streets and ~200 families, we visit family. We drink mate and eat cake. After half an hour, Oscar, Victor, the brother of Victor and I leave. Oscar drives his car through the country with spectacular views, remains of Indians, remains of animals and sometimes a view at a group of guanaco’s. On the way the gaucho brothers empty a small bottle of whisky. We visit Lago Tar and Lago San Martin. At Est. La Vega, with only one old gaucho and a lot of dogs, we harvest cherries, pears and apricots. At the next stop they just finished grilling a sheep, so we join eating it. One gaucho is playing the bandoneon. The next stop is Est. El Sociègo, where the sister of Yeya is living. We eat fish there, with a lot of noise and fun. Yeya’s daughter Cintia is living here: she makes me a drawing.
In all these farms there is no electricity. Tourist are never seen to come here: I am the first stranger they see in many years. On the lakes there no boats to be seen: to dangerous, because of the fierce winds that come and go without warning. Falling in this extremely cold water kills you in 15 seconds they say.
15th February. Back to Rio Gallegos. Victor shows me places to stay overnight and places with water for Jil. That is what is going to happen: I will travel with Jil to Rio Bote and Oscar will bring my new horse there. The trip from Rio Gallegos to Rio Bote is estimated to take 7 days. Back in the hostel I take a batch and sleep 2 hours. After that I walk to the apartment of Oscar, where I meet Jorge (15), brother of Carina and Alexis (2), daughter of Oscar and Carina.
We eat and discuss my trip with Jil.
16th February. Driving around with Oscar to various places in Rio Gallegos, to organise my trip with a variety of advice from his friends, gifts to maintain horses, singles, bags and a lot of fun with mate.
17th February. Another day of organising, talking and to the internet café. My saddle bags seem to be ready to be picked up. I rode Jil for an hour, at high speed. Jil loved it to ride again. I bought a map of the province of Santa Cruz; mostly one can buy these at petrol stations, showing much detail and showing nearly every lodge or farm. No wonder, because there is not much more along the road in Patagonia.