Week 13-2018. Amersfoort-Humenné/Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 25-March 31.

It is summertime, meteorologically. The clock was set one hour in advance, so last night was a short one. I met my friend Hanke in church. As usual, I drove her home, where we enjoyed coffee and the company of her dog Toets. After that I went to Eemnes, to watch the first Formula 1 race of this season, with Kenneth. I heard from the radio already the results, while Kenneth was still unaware of it. So, I had to play innocence. The race did not give much sensation and no unexpected results either. During the race we had lunch. After the race, I travelled on to Leiden, to see my family there and discuss certain private matters. My sister was attending a cooking workshop with her son, so I had dinner there with my brother in law and a long-time friend.

Nachtegaallaan The ditch of my childhood.
On Monday, I quietly packed my car. I finished my income-tax return. After some more shopping, I left Amersfoort around two o’clock. A quarter of an hour on the way, a radio bulletin informed me about an accident on the road where I had to go. The traffic jam resulting from it, cost me one hour extra. Driving on a bypass I saw what caused the problem: a large bulk carrier on its side blocked the complete highway. After that, I had only one further delay: In Germany, near Bautzen at the A4, I was ordered to follow a customs car to a petrol station.

Duitsland 1e stop Stop in Germany.

I was on my way to that patrol station anyway, but it annoyed me nevertheless. They examined my car, obviously looking for drugs. I carry a blue linen bag with me, filled with anything to do with body- and health care. The searching female picked a casket carefully handing it to me, with the request to open it. The content is floss, to clean between one’s teeth. I told them: you may keep it, because I don’t have any teeth left. She was not amused.
Somewhere in Poland, around three o’clock at night, my back started aching and I got tired. So, at a patrol stations parking, I made up my bed and went asleep. For approximately three hours I slept, not very deep however. When I went on my way again it rained with wet snow as well. I was praying that it would not start really snowing, but I did not expect it to. After Krakow, the TomTom sent me off the E40, into the country.

Polen landschap (3) South-East Poland country side.

From there onwards, the speed of travelling was considerably reduced. I have done this trip before and I recognised various views as well. Entering Slovakia was undisturbed.

Slowakije landschap (1) Slovakia country side.

Around eleven I arrived at my destiny in Humenné. After the logical welcoming ceremony, I went to the apartment, unpacked my car and went to bed for a couple of hours. In the evening I walked into town to find it virtually dead. Fortunately, the one café I know was open. This café is really ideal: they serve a terrific pizza, good beer, soccer on a wide screen and an ashtray to smoke. This is what I like: old fashioned. After having eaten most of the pizza, it is much to much for me, and after watching some soccer games, I went back to the apartment and to bed.
I slept like a log for 12 hours. On Wednesday morning around eleven I was up and done with my daily early morning ritual.

Uitzicht in Humenné My early morning view.

It is a splendid day, blue sky, no wind. In the clinic they are busy with 4 dogs, three puppies, a pigeon and 4 cats. I am asked to walk the dogs and the puppies, which I do like a lot. walking the

Puppies (1) Walking the puppies.

At Tesco’s I do some shopping and revalue the credit on my cell-phone. I am invited to have supper with Ivan and Helena, parents of my friend Lenka.
On Thursday, they call it Green Thursday here, Christians are supposed to eat ‘green’ without meat. Fish is okay and so are eggs. Shops are open but busy, because tomorrow is ‘Big Friday’ and many people have 4 days of, with shops only open on Saturday. I did the shopping for my friend Lenka, at ease: I had plenty of time. Asking to staff, for items I cannot find, is always a rather funny thing: the youngest of the staff are usually the ones to approach for their knowledge of English.
Friday went by, with a busy morning at the clinic. The children are on holiday, that is clear. They arrive before opening hours, to be the first to walk one of the four dogs or to play with the puppies. A stray cat is brought in, from a town 30 kms away. The animal is being registered here, including a picture from an instant camera. Half an hour later this cat is sleeping off his sedation: he is now castrated.

Lenka en assistende Stanka steriliseren kater (1) Castration of a stray cat.

It is nice to see how fast and secure Lenka and her assistant work. Around midday the clinic is closed for today. Later in the afternoon, I am informed that my friend is on her way, with her daughter and aunt. We meet at Ivan’s place for coffee and talk. After that we go to the flat where I reside for something to eat: home-made salad and cookies. Lenka, aunt and daughter leave for home in Medzilaborce after a while. I spend the evening watching TV.
On Saturday I am up in time to go to the clinic and later go to Tesco’s for some shopping. In the afternoon I go to Medzilaborce, to see about pruning the fruit trees there. I examined the fruit trees: they are dead.

Begraafplaats Medzilaborce Medzilaborce cemetary.

Next week I am remove them completely. We had a joyful afternoon, with spaghetti and sausages. Hana, Lenka’s daughter is taking much of my attention.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 25-March 31.

Argentina start foto

Wednesday the 24th ended with an invitation to have supper with the three ladies running this hotel/café/restaurant in summer. In winter it closes down, which is now: Next week they are leaving.
Daylight comes around 7 o’clock. To the bathroom I have to go outside, then through the kitchen where Ana is having mate by candle light. I join her for a while. The land is white from frost. I carry on preparations to leave. We have breakfast with good coffee. The bill for everything is $10, I pay them $20. I feel well treated, satisfied and grateful for it. I am riding Jut for the first time, which feels good. It is beautiful weather, a few clouds cover the sky, wind is only light. Jil, carrying the luggage, is not to happy with it. The road is rather awkward with lots of cobble stones. Near Punta del Lago I steer into the dunes and onto the stony beach. It is difficult for Jut and Jil to deal with this loose packed gravel but when we reach the water, the horses can drink which they do. Back on the road and after the turn to El Chalten I planned to do another 10km, but Jil is not going so I stop, at half past five, in the middle of nowhere at a huge plane. Far away I can spot the planned destiny. I set up my tent, but I cannot use the tent pins: its either too loose sand or large stones. There is no wind: total silence. I hear my cigarette burning, nothing else. Every now and then I hear a horse’s tail sweep. After a meal of Presto Pronto it is dark and I go asleep.
Friday the 26th March, the 28th travelling day. Some time ago I knew that I would never reach Venezuela at this pace: I don’t care. I just travel, taking what is coming. I slept until 3 at night, ate a bar of nougat (Turron), drank some water and smoked. After that I went back to sleep. When I am having breakfast and packed the horses, I am watched by a curious silver fox. Jil is again holding back, so I leave him on his own and ride behind him, actually kind of chasing him into the right direction. Near Tres Lagos there are trenches dug and rows of trees planted. Jul and Jil together hurry into a trench where they drink a lot. I come to a petrol station where I buy and drink a beer. In Tres Lagos I intend to stay for the weekend, until Monday. I get help from all sides now. Many of the inhabitants know me, from Rio Bote and from ‘the road’. I shake hands a lot and have to tell more about this adventure: all of it. On of them drills for water, for everybody who pays. The water is found at 100 meters deep. No wonder this is a desert with only yellowish dry shrubbery. Nearly all the livings, one can hardly call them houses, have a disk antenna and very good television. The whole town seems to be kept together with steel wire, wood of all sorts and corrugated steel plates. I reside at the one and only ‘hotel de ville’. Most of the time however I am the guest of Sr.Barres and his wife. She rings a couple of people and ten minutes later a car arrives with food for my horses. Payment is not accepted. I turn a meal down, because I had a good meal at the hotel. They are eating horse meat with ‘torta frita’. Torta frita is flower with some salt, a hundred times thrown up and down, kneaded and finally rolled out until the mass is half a millimetre thick, then folded once and cut into pieces. Those pieces are cooked in sheep’s vet, they blow up like a tiny balloon. The backing smells very well and these tiny balloons are taken for food on the way across their endless estates: they can be kept for many days without getting bad.
I am very busy with the maintenance of my horses on Saturday. First, I went to buy fruit in the only store they have. In the shadow of one of the few trees, I sit down and enjoy the fruit, when a young woman arrives by car. She takes me to my horses. Three youngsters and the horse-food provider arrived. These men are treating Jil with new irons, on all legs. They also tell me that Jil does have some problems, like a sore back and an inflamed wound just above his hoof left aft. They give me clear instructions how to deal with these problems. Both Jut and Jil were behaving exemplary during the treatment, I rewarded them with some extra food. The men and I go to the bar for a drink, where I want to know what I have to pay them: they refuse payment. The food supplier promises me to mark a place along the road for Monday, where I will find water and a good place for camping. The evening falls, with splendid coloured clouds. I ride Jut and Jil, without saddle or mouth piece, just a piece of rope onto their head-set. I go to the river to allow them to drink. Jut reacts a bit surprised, riding without a saddle. They both take it very well, even in trot it is no problem at all. Back at the hotel I go to bed, totally happy.
Sunday morning. The sky is grey, no wind. During the night it rained a lot. The locals are very happy with it. The silence is rarely disturbed by one of the rattling cars they possess. These cars are really something: no lights, sometimes no brakes, broken windows, bumps everywhere. The only thing that matters to them is: does the machine go. Police does not look at anything, only when there is an argument. The car from my food provider consists of an engine, wheels with worn tires and bodywork without only one switch: to switch on or off. In the sickbay, it is neither hospital nor pharmacy but its all they have here, I meet again the young woman, who picked me up yesterday. I need things to treat the wound on Jil’s leg. I get everything I need, again, free of charge. I donate $10 in the box for donations. In the evening, in the hotel, I listen to my radio: world broadcast in Dutch.
Monday, 29th March. Jut and Jil broke out of their confined area, after having stolen the rest of their food. I find them back, 100 meters away from my hotel, quietly grazing. I take my time for breakfast and packing. The youngsters who treated jil came along to say good bye. They show me the way: into the wild country a long way along a fence, and then I will hit road 40 again. Oh wonder: it appears to work well. It is warm, few wind only and we proceed very well, I think, because there is no way measuring my progress: gravel, coble stones, rocks and again the same. Depending on the terrain, we go in trot. Early in the evening I spot a heap of gravel with some sort of a wooden fencing. Jut just walks straight through it, where Jil is always a bit nervous about fences. I erected my tent, thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful purple and blue sky and the silence. Nightfall goes fast, so I have to cook my meal in the dark, with the help of a clear full moon. It surprises me, that my self-made meals are tasting so good. My ribs are by now feeling nearly normal, so my attention is now drawn towards muscles aching in my back. I wonder, will I ever overcome that situation? Today I saw, from afar, 6 cars, no animals at all and even no birds.
Tuesday, 30th of March. At 7 in the morning I have breakfast. It is still dark, very clear, very cold and totally silent. No sound to hear. Condensed breath is dripping into my tent and the land around me is frozen white. We are underway early and both Jut and Jil are going very well. I don’t have to use the rope from the headset, I don’t use reigns or bit. I don’t even have to guide and have both hands free to study my map. I have no idea how far I am and how far we still have to go today. We come to a stream with crystal clear water. This must be the stream as given by my friends in Tres Lagos. This means that I still have to go ~24 km to estancia La Lucia. Soon however, I come to a confined area with 6 horses and two groups of 10 guanaco’s each. That’s why I expect to be close to La Lucia and that appears to be the case. We reach La Lucia at 4 in the afternoon: it’s an oasis with healthy green grass and with people. La Lucia appears to be a place for so called ‘agritourism’. So, I hire accommodation for $15. Within two weeks, the staff will close the facility for winter. At first the staff is a bit at a distance, until they learn that I am Dutch. Then they relax and we have an enjoyable evening. I have seen this before: Argentinians don’t like the English, because of the Falklands war.
Wednesday, 31st March. 31st travelling day. It is again a beautiful day. I travel in T-shirt, because my overall is much to warm now. The surface is dreadful, loose stones and Vulcanic material, black and sharp. I have the idea that we go slow, probably because of the terrible terrain. For the first time I spot a herd of cows. The first sign of their presence was a dead one, crumbled in the bushes. After numerous heaps of stone, we come into flat lands with grass again in the afternoon. We come across a herd of 30 horses many with foals. They follow us for a while and that is very funny, a running herd beside you. I was told what to expect on my way to estancia Siberia which gave me a fair idea of my progress. I get a view of Lago Cardiel, deep blue, dead silent and cold. Siberia is again one of the Agro tourism places. Tourism is their only source of income. The only person present is an old and very grumpy person, busy burning the last debris. I am not invited inside. Later I learn why: he is closing down and leaving tomorrow. So, I should not have arrived here one day later. I am shown a place to erect my tent and a place for Jut and Jil.

web wk13-Province Santa Cruz

Progress in Santa Cruz Province

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Week 12-2018. Amersfoort.

The Sunday was different this time. My friend Hanke and my family in Eemnes were busy with alternative activities, so after church I returned home and stayed there. I feel it very well: my body is working hard to restore damage; it consumes much of my energy. After lunch, I lay down for a nap but I don’t get a chance. The R.S.C.P.A rings and asks me to bring a rabbit to Amsterdam. I turn it down, because of physical situation. Minutes later I get three other phone calls and after those, I don’t feel like having a nap anymore. I do my laundry instead.

van Beek camper (5) Camper 41y old, for sale.
On Monday, I travel to Ridderkerk where I celebrate the 81st birthday of my sister. A group of 8 children with their escort come to the door with flowers for my sister, who used to read for them for many years. The children sing a song and get a treat: it’s a funny situation, lovely old fashioned.

Mo, Fernandez and me (3) Me, with Mo and Fernandez.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are filled with issues around the elections for new local authorities. Some inhabitants of the IJselberch are rather disorganised: cooking steak at 3 o’clock at night, not sleeping in their apartment but on a couch in the mutual living room. On Thursday the R.S.C.P.A. rings: they did receive some 115 mice and these have to be distributed to other sanctuaries around the country. It appeals to me, so I offer my services. One of the young inhabitants is clearly bored with his day. I ask him if he likes to come with me. He is delighted and we go pick up 7 baskets with assorted mice: all white, male, pregnant females and even a litter of ~12 tiny babies.

Stichting Pettings Rotterdam (4) Mice with litter. Who is the mother, that is the question.

With instructions like addresses, names and telephone numbers, we are on our way. Given times are impossible to meet, we end up in the rush hour. Here, my idea to take someone with me is paying out: he can ring the sanctuaries where we have to be, to tell them when we are due to arrive. Like this, we manage to deliver the mice to Rijswijk (The Hague), to Ridderkerk and to Rotterdam. Halfway the evening, we are back home, satisfied with our trip.
On Friday, I return the empty mice-carriers. I knew that a number of mice were to be taken to IJmuiden. And indeed, I could go with again 5 boxes of mice. On the way, I ended up in a traffic jam which cost me one hour extra travelling time. It was nevertheless an interesting trip, because I don’t go that way often. It must have been at least 15 years ago that I was in this area, near the steel plant of Tatra and the sea-sluices at the Noordzee canal.

Noordzee kanaal (2)
Back at home, I saw the Dutch soccer team lose their match to England. I was rather disappointed with the performance of the Dutch team: they played without drive or conviction.
Saturday was a quiet day: some shopping, some messages, contacted a friend in Ukraine. From my car I replaced a front light. Late in the evening, a long-time guest appeared and told me about his adventures (medicals). I prepared for bed, knowing that during the night, the clock was going 1 hour advanced: summer time.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 18-March 24.

Argentina start fotoTo be continued.
Wednesday the 17th I worked on my luggage and storage on my horse. The small dog from the hostel is pinching my stuff and taking it to a variety of hide-outs. The stinging midgets are back again, so we expect nice weather again.
On Thursday the 18th I am again busy with the pack-saddle. I travel up and down to El Calafate for glue and other materials. The same on Friday the 19th. By now, people know and recognise me, in El Calafate and on the road to Rio Bote. It gives me a feeling like being at home. Most of the people want to talk and offer help for my pack-saddle activity. In hotel, restaurant and bar I am usually treated as a guest: I am not allowed to pay for my consumptions. After many trials and errors, the pack-saddle is satisfactory functioning during a trial ride on Saturday. It makes me feel happy. I pack and unpack a couple of times. Doing so, I produce a protocol: first this, then that, etcetera. From time to time, when fully packed, I make a trip through the area, cross country including passage of the river. After a whole day of hard work, I am satisfied and take a day off: no work.
On Sunday, I just rest. Walking with Jut and Jil. They don’t need a lead and just follow me: they rely on me. They are happy to move, because the clouds of midgets are back again. In the hostel I notice some aggravation from Juan and Lili, the owners. They are fed up with people just coming in for hot water, for their mate, for use of the toilet or for some other facility without spending one cent on drinks or food. At a certain moment Juan just closes the door when he sees them coming or just refuses them the use of the requested facility. My friend Oscar, who provided me with a new horse, also came, with his mother. He inspects what I did and he is confident that the pack-saddle will function properly.

22-03-99 Juan en Lilian van hostel Rio Bote Rio Bote, Juan and Lilian.
On Monday the 22nd of March, I pack, enjoy breakfast and start my 24nd travelling day. I leave a lot of materials of which Juan is happy. At 11:15 o’clock I am on the road and away, with all the best wishes from the inhabitants of Rio Bote. First, I go into the direction of El Calafate. At Charles Fuhr, Puente Diggieri, I turn to the right hitting route 40. I have to pass a cattle grid. Jil does not like that, but he follows me nearly pushing me off my feet. This road is a dirt track, no asphalt. It is totally silent here: I enter the desert of Patagonia. I come across the next river, rio Santa Cruz, again with a cattle grid, but this time there is a gate in the fence at the side of it. This is the usual set up: endless fences, cattle grid and a small gate which you are supposed to close properly after passage. When I come to some buildings, I decide to stop for today. The building is an uninhabited demolition site, the other is a shed.

23-03-99 vanaf Charles Fuhr, Puente Diggieri At Puente Diggieri.

Two roadworkers are residing there. These two are working with a machine (a ‘moto nevelladora’) along this unsurfaced road to keep it even and sort of firm. Two cyclists arrive: an American and a man from Switzerland. They started, unaware of each other, from Alaska through Bolivia. At the border with Argentina they met and now continue together unto Ushuaia. I spend the evening with the two roadworkers, Roberto and Damian, in their shed drinking wine and mate. Outside it is getting cold: summer is clearly over, autumn did arrive. The sky is a splendid light blue with a violet glare. I sleep in my tent.
Tuesday 23rd March. When I get out of my tent, I see Jut. Jil is nowhere to be seen. I find Jil, standing patiently in the ice-cold water of the fast running water from the Rio Santa Cruz. Jil must have gone too close to the bank and went down with a wedge of soil from the high bank. He is thankful when I guide him out of the water. After breakfast, with the rest of my evening meal, we depart around eleven and walk, from pte Charles Fuhr to pte Diggieri where we arrive cross country, through rolling country and many fences to pass. It is a difficult trip, ~40 kilometres. In the dark, it is 21:00 o’clock, we arrive at Ea. Irene. Jut was difficult to motivate, but Jil did do very well. At the estancia I see no light, but after a knock at a window, a tiny Chilean gaucho appears. He helps me unsaddling and brings me to another building with a bedroom and 4 beds. He provides me with hot soup, mate, warmth and company. After a short while I go to bed. My whole body is aching. I fall asleep like a log.
Wednesday 24th March, 26th travelling day.
I planned to start riding early, but that plan failed. The gaucho told me about his job, while we enjoyed breakfast with warm meat, coffee, mate and asado with bread. The gaucho is sometimes here and otherwise in another corner of the estate: 100km away! Ea. Irene appears to be well kept, some brickwork houses, 4 dogs and twenty horses. The plan for today is to reach La Leone. Around midday I depart, following the river La Leone through a beautiful valley, river on my right and far away the mountains with snow at my left. The various rock formations are colourful. I see a variety of animals, like guanaco, white heron and armadillas. Both Jut and Jil are working happily together, so we make good progress. We arrive at hostel La Leone. The first person I see appears to be a woman with a raucous voice. With two other women she runs this hostel, annex halfway stop for buses with tourists from El Chalten. The whole setting is worn out, derelict, sheds without door or windows and a neglected kitchen garden.
The boss, with the raucous voice, originates from Finland. The second female is Anna her daughter (30). The third female is further of unknown origin and age. Anna lights the fire. Inside the lounge it is cosy. This hostel is closing next week. Mother and daughter go to El Calafate for the winter. Again, like in the hostel of Rio Bote, buses come, stop, unload passengers who go to the toilet and leave again without consuming anything. Anna reacts with Chou, muchas gracias, de nada. It is getting dark and the pressure lamp growls. I stay for the night. The bed is not really comfortable, a deep gully in the middle. I am asked to join the three women in their kitchen, where we enjoy a hot meal and drink coffee. I don’t stay late, because I want to continue early, tomorrow morning.



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Week 11-2018. New York-Amersfoort.

Mijn billen (1) My damaged back two days after the event.
With Danuta I visited the Salem church, with an interesting sermon from the pastor John Welborn. Back at home, Danuta made pancakes the American way: very nice with cheese and/or jam. In the afternoon, Danuta tries to work on her desktop computer, but the connection with Internet does not work. Even with the help of external organisations, the connection cannot be made, so she shuts down. We went to see a friend, Joan. The three of us went to a pizzeria where we enjoyed a good meal. After that and back at Joan’s place, we watched two programmes: ‘The Kennedys’ and ‘The Pope’. I learned a couple of things from it.
On Monday morning, I sent an e-mail to my GP for advice regarding my damaged back. A picture, taken by Danuta, completed the request for advice. After that, we took the desktop computer and went to a shop called ‘BestBuy’. There Danuta heard that she had to leave her computer there until Friday. Danuta talked about a laptop there, and I responded in advising her to buy a simple laptop. With a laptop she does have a backup system to continue her professional activities any time and everywhere. So, she bought a laptop. The preparation of the laptop to suit her demands, would take till later today. We left for the beach of Raritan Bay, with the tools to try and retrieve the two bronze items from the shipwrecks deck.

Steen aan strand Stone at the beach.

We managed to pull the deck higher up, so were able to work on it much longer. The saw we had with us was very blunt and other means did not work, so we aborted our efforts and left for home. The laptop was picked up and the rest of the day and evening, I did help Danuta become familiar with her new tool.
I checked in for my flight tomorrow.

Rear entrance Taylor street Rear entrance Taylor Street.
On Tuesday, Danuta washed all my dirty and smoky belongings, so I could pack everything clean and ready for use. Danuta’s friend Joan arrived and we had lunch together, after which we took off, to Newark International Airport.
At the airport we took time for coffee before I kissed the lady’s goodbye and left for the security check.

Platform Newark Newark flight deck.
The plane, carrier is Delta, departed late because of malfunctioning of one of the systems. The plane was not completely full. I informed the stewardess of my back problem and asked her for a painkiller or a sleeping pill. She told me that they are not allowed to provide these, but she could give me two ‘children’s aspirins’. After take-off, the stewardess gestured me to an empty row of three seats, where I could lay down and sleep. So I did. I did sleep nearly the whole journey. So, at arrival at Schiphol I felt just like able to start a normal day, without jetlag.
From Schiphol I took the train to Amersfoort and at Amersfoort I took the bus to my garage. I had already checked. My car was ready, serviced and examined, ready to serve me for another year. At 10 o’clock I was back at home, made an appointment with my GP and unpacked.

Opel Leusderweg (2) This is how the Opel sign looks.
My GP, when she saw my back, reacted horrified and of course she wanted to hear the whole story: how could that have happened. After that she agreed that I have been very lucky not to have broken anything. She sent me to hospital for pictures to be taken from my spine. She told me that, in case fractures in my spine were seen, they would no doubt keep me in hospital. The pictures did however show no cracks, no ruptures or any other sign of damage.

Meander (3) Meander hospital: waiting room.

Achterwerk (1) My back 7 days after the event.

So, I was released to go home to just deal with the muscle ache, the swelling and the bruises. The next day, Wednesday, my GP sent me an e-mail with apologies for not having responded to my mail from Monday.
The rest of the week, I am busy getting my things in order, do some shopping and in general inform people about my accident causing me to move a bit stiff. Of course, everybody wants to see the damage, so I dressed conveniently thus only having to lift my T-shirt. All are very astonished and help, if needed, will be readily provided. I managed without, because I was able to apply a soothing and repairing ointment myself, everywhere it appeared necessary.

Sloop Lichtenberg Demolition of the old hospital.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 11-March 17.

Argentina start foto
Wednesday, March 10th. Jil needs new irons on his hind legs. My body is still aching too much, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.
Thursday, March 11th. My ribs still hurt, especially where my binoculars hit me when I fell off my horse. I also have some trouble on right hand knee, but that is from a known, old injury. I sit at the riverbank, with my two horses. Today there are no midgets bothering us. We eat, we rest and enjoy a lovely day in nature. I do some economising of luggage and discard again a number of items.
On Friday I walk to a farm deep inland, Estancia M. Eliza, 15 kms away. I see many animals, mostly very inquisitive. They are not fleeing for me. One of these is Piche (Peludo), a small type of armadillo. These are said to be very tasty, so I suppose they will become extinct soon. Back at the hostel I started the design of a new type of pack-saddle, to be made from an old oil drum.
On Saturday, I am very busy. I watched two men from the local public services department. They arrived with a small truck and a small shovel. The procedure is known: reverse the truck with its rear against a somewhat higher ground, release the tailgate and either load or unload the pickup truck. These men give me the name of a person who can help me produce my design. I wrap up my laundry and hitchhike to El Calafate. Usually hitchhiking is functioning very well. I am dropped at a bar with five gauchos, where I ask for further directions. They start talking and asking, offer me a Chilanian alcoholic beverage (I turn a second one down) after which they show me where I should go. In, and around a barn littered with iron, timber, rags, paper and plastics, the said help should be found, but nobody is there. In the bar they tell me, the fellow will arrive around 12 o’clock. I leave for now, to the launderette. My laundry will be ready at 15 o’clock for $6. Prices for doing my laundry vary incredibly. The cheapest was in Rio Gallegos: free of charge and ironed. Back at the saddle maker, we drink maté and talk about my design and his ideas. We walk to a meadow with 15 tame and good looking horses. Around there it is a mess with heaps of rubbish and remains of slaughtered and skinned (for leather) cows. A heap of hides, for sale, is laying in the open air, surrounded by sawn off legs. It stinks and flies are countless. I am sure this man is trying to rip me off. All of a sudden, he changes his mind and attitude. He organised a taxi and another gaucho to take me to a smithy. There I find a very friendly and understanding man. We discuss the issue, draw, measure and agreeing, with some difficulty. But, in the end, he promises me to get me the product, tomorrow, in Rio Bote. With my clean laundry I return to Rio Bote. It is dark when I arrive. With a lantern I have to look for my horses, because they have been taken to another position. My friend Oscar has been here, with the required documentation for my new horse. It was a busy, funny, satisfying day.

Molina Campos-gaucho living Characteristic gaucho living quarters according to Molinos Campos.
On Sunday I stayed at the hostel, besides a short ride with my new Jut. Jut is not used to cars and is a bit jumpy when a car passed before he saw it come. Back at the hostel I am greeted by an older gaucho. Soon I recognize him as one of the men I met when eating fish at a farm far in the country at the shores of Lago Argentina, together with Oscar some weeks ago. Late that afternoon Claudio arrives with the product he made for me. It looks good and it fits the back of Jut perfectly well. I pay Claudio, $70. We drink some, talk, play pool and table soccer. Around 20 o’clock I move the horses to their place for the night. I am sure that Juan, the hostel owner, is now a bit jealous. He saw the pack saddle that was made for me and he could have made the same, certainly for $70!
Monday,15th March. I slept uneasy. I have to move, feel the need to start travelling again. There is no water from the tap. During the night is rained a lot, large pools with rainwater prove it. At the parking, a tent is erected, a bicycle nearby. This person arrived late at night.
I go to El Calafate again, hitchhiking. Halfway I have to climb in a dumper truck. I need money and try an ATM. They don’t function. The bank employees tell that there is an interruption. The many tourists here are distressed because of it; they cannot function without money and this causes stress for the bank employees as well. I seem to fit seamless in the local population apparently: tourists are approaching me with typical tourist questions, while street vendors and informants with tourist information are neglecting me totally. I look dirty and I don’t have a camera on my belly. When I am done, I travel back with an empty tourist bus, who picks up every hitchhiker for $5. Most of these, like two Dutch girls and an Israeli couple, want to El Chalten, a left turn from the road to Rio Bote.
Back at the hostel I complete the preparatory work for my departure. At 20 o’clock I see my horses, rub them and replace them. They are cute, standing perfectly still with their legs apart when I remove the midgets there. Jil pushes me with his head as if he wants to say: please go on.
Tuesday, the 16th March. The whole day I have been busy with changes to my pack-saddle. The three sons of Juan are helping me. I join them to El Calafate buying supplies for the hostel. Later that day Oscar arrives with three gauchos. It is an enjoyable evening, talking about my plans and drinking beer.
Wednesday is again a day of trial and error with packing. In itself this is fun, being busy but I would be happy to start travelling. It was a nice day. I lost a lot of time retrieving my belongings. The small dog from the hostel is pinching my stuff and taking it to a variety of hide-outs. The stinging midgets are back again, so we expect nice weather again.

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Week 10-2018. New York.

On Sunday we are a bit late for church, but when we arrive, at Salem, free evangelical community, we enjoy the sermon of John, the leader of this church. He is talking fast and compassionate about stories that are told without proper context. We both like his speech. When the service is finished, we drive to Manhattan.

Op weg naar Manhattan (3) From Staten Island to Manhattan.

Carnegie Hall (3) Carnegie Hall.

We go to Carnegie Hall, for a concert given by Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin, accompanied by Lambert Orkis on Piano. They play a composition by André Previn, present, because this is a world première for this work of his. Other compositions played are from Bach, Brahms and Penderecki. With these two events, it was a pleasant day.
On Monday we go shopping, buying food and other essentials. After the shopping we go for a walk in ‘the Green Belt’, a nature reserve.

Greenbelt wandeling Green belt nature reserve.
We are up early on Tuesday and head for Mount Loretto, another reserve boarding the shore of the estuary. We wanted to retrieve the handles found earlier, but we cannot find them: it is high water.

Kust bij hoogwater (2) High water.

After this walk we find a noisy activity across the road: they are cutting down large parts of an old tree and shredding the cuts. For dinner we go out to a Japanese restaurant.
Since the adverse weather forecast, we decide to start work in a guestroom on the third floor. But first I solve a problem with the doorbell: a flat battery is the cause. In the guestroom we cover the furniture. After that we open up cracks in the walls and ceiling. When that is done, we put filler in the cracks. That is nasty job, because of the speed of setting the paste. While doing that, we see the weather as predicted: lots of snow with strong winds. In a short time, we do have 10cm of snow laying everywhere and staying.

Sneeuw over Staten Island (2) Snow at Staten Island.
On Thursday we continue the work in the guestroom, finishing with the removal of debris and hovering. We don’t want to cook and go to a Chinese restaurant where you can eat all you want for a fixed price. The choices you have there are enormous: vegetables, rice variations, meats, fish, clams, sushi, ice cream etc.
When back home, Danuta goes to her house where she always watches the latest on OAN (One America Network) while I do some work on my laptop. When I go from the kitchen, where I put the light out. I am distracted with thoughts and take it straight ahead, instead of taking to the left into the dark dining room. I run into the dark stairs down the basement and fall.

Het trapgat en de trap (4) Open kelderdeur en trapgat.

After arrival at the bottom of the stairs, I stay put for a while, to oversee any damage. The damage seems not to bad: nothing broken, no bleeding (at least none visible) but a pretty painful back. My spine hurts and just above my bottom, a large bump emerges. After telling Danuta about this unfortunate event, I stumble to bed and try to sleep through the pain in my back. I am used to turn from side to side via my back, but that is too painful. I have to turn now via my belly. That is unusual for me and causes some lesser sleep.
On Friday I am rather confined to taking it easy. Walking is not a problem, but bending over, getting into a sitting position and out of it, is problematic and needs a lot of attention and energy. I can hardly help Danuta with her painting job in the guestroom. I get tired fast.
The situation on Saturday is no different. I can give some help but not much. Nevertheless, the job gets done, the room is repainted. Clearing the room from tools, paint, covers etc, and returning the furniture we intent to do that next Monday.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, March 4-March 10.

Argentina start foto
Wednesday March 3rd, I intended to travel again, but was pulled out of my saddle and hurt my ribs. Thursday March 4th. My body hurts. Muscles ache and ribs ache. Is was a very cold night. Starting this morning is hardly possible. I ride Jil back to the hostel. They ask if I need a doctor, but no, I know the problem and a doctor cannot do anything at all with bruised ribs. I hire a room in the hostel.
On Friday, I take time to train Jut. My sore body is just allowing me to do that. After a couple of hours, I hitchhike to El Calafate. There I go to an Internet café and write to the family. When that is done, I buy a new knife. I lost the original one, and I have my head shaved off. In the evening I take a bus back to Rio Bote.

Hostel Rio Bote

Hostel/Truckdriver restaurant/Meeting place: Rio Bote.

The driver is not very attentive, because he speeds past the hostel. When I call the driver, he wakes up and drives his bus 100 meters back. In the hostel they inform me, that Oscar has taken Jut back and that he will come with an older horse, better trained for this adventure. In the hostel they now call us: medio loco Oscar with medio loco ‘Piter’.
It is far in the afternoon, on Saturday, when Oscar arrives with a ‘new Jut’. This horse is 12 years old, the same size as Jil and tame. You can crawl around, underneath, behind and he does not make any strange movements. Jil accepts the new horse easily.
Early Sunday morning, I miss both my horses. They were contained by a long rope fixed to some bushes, but the came loose. I see them walking not too far away, together. When I go in their direction with an empty bag from ‘avena’, Jil is immediately interested and approaches me. When he is attached to a branch and secured, I go for Jut. Jut did actually follow us and is easily caught as well. The hostel owner saw me busy chasing Jut and Jil, which took me 2 hours anyway, and had already taken his old truck to help me. When that appeared not necessary, he chased and shot an ostrich to be eaten tomorrow. The rest of the Sunday I am working on my electricity: the solar panel seems to malfunction.
Again, on Monday morning, both Jut and Jil are walking around without being attached to anything. I find it fabulous, that they don’t go any further than 100meters away from the hostel. It seems as if they know that they belong to me. Amazing. Again today, the clouds of midgets are a nuisance. I go to El Calafate by bus, to do e-mail and get an electrician to help with my electricity. The solution appeared to be, to restart the dry-cell battery. Back in the hostel, we eat ostrich. It tastes very well.
Tuesday morning, I slept not very well. Possibly because of too much eaten and too much wine with it, too late in the evening. It was an enjoyable evening. I saddled Jil and took Jut as well. I wanted to search for the knife I had lost last week, when I fell of my horse. I found it. Jut had to get used to my waving to cars and to hooting of these cars. But, he is learning fast. It appears not difficult to get him to do what I want him to do: trot, walk, or any other speed. My body is not yet ready to restart my journey, so I spent time on training and trying to find out why my luggage is too often shifting on the horses back.

web wk10-Province Santa Cruz By bus: Rio Bote-El Calafate v.v.
On Wednesday, March 10th, I take Jut and Jil for a test ride. We go through the country, passing many water streams without problems. The camping is neat, clean but only inhabited by seven curious horses. Jil is not pleased when they come too close. I saw large quantities of fox holes and also a dead skunk. According to the hostel boss, these skunks are, after removing their glands, lovely pets. I am now waiting for new documentation for the third Jut and for hoof irons for Jil. Jil needs new irons on his hind legs. My body is still aching too much, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.



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Week 09-2018. Amersfoort-New York.

Verjaardag Nora Birthday party.
It was a busy week. One of the new tenants in the block, is Muslim. He came here through the ‘Salvation Army’. He asked me if he could go to a Christian church: he wanted to experience their way of praying. I told him that he is always welcome, but I cannot take him because I am not coming back after church. I visit my friend Hanke. She is not well. I told her that I am going to bring some dog related items to the asylum for animals. Hanke does have lots of obsolete items and gives these to me, for the asylum as well. From there I go to Eemnes to say goodbye and see if any of them is going to the birthday party of my sister, in Leiden. They are not going, so I depart on my own.
The party is very lively, with family and friends. Some of them I did not see for some time, so there is plenty to talk about.
On Monday I take the obsolete dogs’ items to the asylum. They are very happy with it and as a reward I am given a 2018 calendar. Back at home I ring my car-mechanic. I can bring my car and leave it there. It gives them two weeks to do the necessary maintenance and arrange for it to be given the annual safety check, which will allow me to use the car again for a year to come. I walked back home and made my evening meal. I packed the food with limited life, in a plastic bag and gave it to one of my fellow tenants. That done, I was ready to pack for my trip to New York.
I had plenty of time, Tuesday morning. With the bus and the train, I went to Schiphol, where I had three hours waiting before departure. The security checks for travellers to the USA are many. Each time, you are asked if the luggage you have with you is really yours and yours alone, without contents given to you on behalf of third parties. Departure of the plane was 10 minutes early. I was not really impressed by the cabin crew of Delta, the carrier. They were friendly enough but at the same time very distant. We were told, that the plane would arrive at Newark airport one hour early, I guess due to favourable winds.

In het vliegtuig (2) In the bus.
The weather in New York was excellent. Outside the arrivals hall I could smoke my first cigarette and wait in the sun for my friend to pick me up. Due to the early arrival of the plane, my friend appeared a bit late. There was, obviously, enough to tell during the ride from Newark to Staten Island. My friend Danuta gave me the same room with bathroom and side-room. In the side-room there are no windows allowing me to smoke there.
Wednesday is a sunny day with good temperature. We made a nice walk along the beach and found a lot of materials that were interesting for my friend. We have been busy trying to unscrew two bronze parts off a ships deck that had been washed ashore. We were working very concentrated until I suddenly noticed the tide coming in. We had to abort our activity, but maybe we go back later, this- or next week to finish the work.
On Thursday we do some shopping and we go for a walk in a nearby park. We enjoy lunch in a Chinese ‘all you can eat’ restaurant. I have been there before and know the quality of the food to be very good. I quite like eating there, with a huge choice. Today is again a sunny day, but for tonight and the next days, the forecast is rather bad: high winds, snow, rain and low temperatures. Later in the evening the predictions come true. Elsewhere in nearby states, they suffer snow storms.

Uitzicht vanuit rook-erker (1) View.
Friday is a very windy, wet and cold day. We stay at home. One of Danuta’s friends came over for brunch. Later that day, we were busy getting tickets for a concert on Sunday in Carnegie Hall.
After the unpleasant weather of the last two days, the situation is a lot better on Saturday, allowing us to go out again for a good walk. After the walk we go to the home of Danuta’s friend where we drink coffee and talk about dogs and cats.
Tonight, I do the cooking: the rice was a brown type and I cooked it 18 minutes: too short. The taste was okay.

Viskop eten Chinese fish head.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, February 25-March 3.

Argentina start fotoContinuing story.
Underneath a bridge I stop. Jil is taking a bath in the river. I put on all the clothes I have and make myself comfortable for the night, covered in a large plastic sheet.

web wk9-Province Santa Cruz
I wake up at 7 o’clock. The sky is black from clouds and it is raining, ice cold. I am soaking wet down to my skin. Fortunately, there is not much wind. Away from the road I can see idyllically looking farms, inaccessible. It is clear that a bit away from the road, there is another country to be found: beautiful. After 4 hours driving, the sun comes through and I stop for lunch. Jil puts his head straight into the plastic back, even when I am still filling it with water. In the distance I see mountain tops with fresh snow. The landscape turned from flat to rolling, more friendly and green. My feet are wet and I can hardly use my fingers from the cold: I don’t feel them when I am cutting some bread and hit my fingers. Around 3 o’clock we come to estancia Librun, looking friendly and well maintained. When we go down a slope, Jil is stumbling but gets up immediately again: I suppose he needs some good food. At first there is nobody seen, but when I call out loud, a good looking young woman appears: Caroline Lambertini is her name. Caroline is on holiday from her work at the tourist information office in El Calafate; she speaks German, English and French which is rare. I am given a room with a good bed and nearby bathroom with hot water! The toilet is away from the house, it has a door with glass, giving a splendid view across the countryside. When I am installed, around 7pm, I am called to join the party of three women and two men, all in one 4×4, carrying with us lots of salads and bread. After a lovely trip through the rough country, I spot lots of ostriches and sheep, we come to some sheds where a dozen gauchos with rotten teeth, are gathered around a fire. At the fire they are roasting sheep. Of course, everybody is looking at me, the stranger. But soon enough everybody is eating with wine, bread, salad with potato and egg. The meat is so tender and well-cooked that it is hardly necessary to use your knife. During eating they play guitar, they sing, I have to sing (our National anthem) and tell stories. The sky is clear, the moon is shining, there is no wind: it is unforgettable. Around 11pm we return to the farm.
I wake up late and take a shower: cold water. Caroline makes breakfast and uses her computer to send a message (birthday greetings) to my sister. We part after she gave me some advice and food for the day. I removed the bit in Jil’s mouth and are now guiding him with only one lead from his headset. He is fast today. The road is straight and dull. Six young ostriches are running ahead of us. It is 3pm when I hear some hooting: it is Oscar. I tell him that I considered stopping a car to transport me with Jil to Rio Bote, because I am one day late. Oscar does not hesitate and half an hour later, Jil is standing secure in the back of the truck.

Hostel Rio Bote Rio Bote.

We arrive in Rio Bote at 5pm where we meet Victor with my new second horse. We drink a beer at the café, unload the truck and Oscar departs. I am on my own again, now with two horses and time to do some training of the new Jut. The owner of the hostel, shows me where I can put up my tent. In the restaurant I have a good meal and after that I go asleep in my tent.
Saturday 27th February. It was not a long night and uneasy because Jut and Jil are restlessly stamping their feet to rid themselves of thousands of tiny annoying and stinging midgets. I wake up early, around 5 o’clock, to go for a pee. Jil is present, but I don’t see Jut. The rope, with which he was secured, lays next to my tent. Of course, I am unable to sleep again and start searching. In the light of my lantern I see eyes lighting up, everywhere; foxes, or what? I wonder. With daylight I saddle Jil and start searching, while all sorts of disasters are passing my mind: is Jut stolen, eaten already or just not fixed properly. It is very adventurous going through rivers, mud, shrubbery and lots of flies. I find a dead horse in a river, possibly one of the horses they told me about to be missing. I come across a skunk, but no Jut. Back at the hostel they advise me to go to El Calafate and the local radio station: they will announce my search.

Lago Argentina vanaf El Calafate Lago Argentina at El Calafate.

When I walk to the road to go hitchhiking to El Calafate, I find Jut standing there. He is easily coming along, back to base! I travel to El Calafate by bus, to buy food for Jut and Jil amongst other necessities, like a cheap camera. I also get a ticket to visit the National Park with entrance to the Glacier Perito Moreno. The sight of the Glacier is impressive. Where I am sitting to watch and listen (you can hear the cracking of ice), a man approaches. He tells me details. He was here 15 years ago. The gletsjer used to cover the land where we are now. The width of the ice-wall you see now, is 6km, the height under water varies from 0-140 meter and above water from 50-55 meter. The gletsjer moves at a speed of 2m/day. I stayed and watched 2,5 hours: impressive, when large lumps break off with a lot of noise which, through the distance, you hear seconds later.

Glaciar Perito Moreno (1) Glaciar Perito Moreno (3)

Glacier Perito Morenon.

Around 23:00 o’clock I am back at the hostel and go asleep.
The Sunday I use to write my diary in the hostel, talk to other guests and have a lot of fun with them. Jil took a stroll and was guided back by the son of my host.
Monday morning I wake up, energetic. I slept very well, took a shower and did some laundry: you don’t want to know the colour of the waste water! I decided to stay here for some days, in order to train Jut and review my luggage. A travelling gaucho, he travels with 10 horses, is telling me about his journey. Each day he has to get his horses together, before going. Today he there is one missing. I told him about the dead horse I found in the river, the other day. He supposes that it is the one he is missing. On Tuesday I ride Jut with Jil following. I do this just for training purposes, to sort out how Jut is behaving on the road. It is a lovely riding day, through rough country, through rivers and moors. Jut is bigger than Jil, so when we cross rivers, Jil is getting a wet belly. In the river I see a lot of fish and on the road, I come across a large variety of animals like hare, geese, unknown birds and pitche. Most of these animals are staying where they are and they only move away when I am already very near.
On the way, we meet the travelling gaucho who has been looking for his horses. He did not find them. When I tell him where I am going, up North, he asks me to look for his horses and when found, take them to his brother who lives there, in Tres Lagos. Back at the hostel, Jut and Jil eat from the same basket without much trouble, which is a surprise to everybody around.
Wednesday: the gaucho departed at midday and I am ready to go 2 hours later. I ride Jul, Jil carries the luggage. We don’t get far before I have to re-adjust the luggage. When done, I mount Jut again. He goes to fast into a galop. Since I have Jil on a leash I am pulled out of the saddle. I don’t manage it and at the third trial I fall badly and hurt myself. My ribs hurt and a knee is painful. I decide to call it a day and put up my tent, only 1 km away from the hostel. Tomorrow I will try again, if I can move then after this fall.



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Week 08-2018. Amersfoort.

Fenty (3) Fenty.
This Sunday I did not see my friend Hanke. She was busy with a woman who lives in Doorn. So, after church I went straight to Eemnes. There I gave Conner the documentation I got from Norway. He has some work to do now. After lunch I was there some of the Olympic games with Gerry, after which I returned to Amersfoort. In my cellar storage I found more documentation from my trip in Argentina. In the days to come, I will sort that documentation out, register it and throw away most of it. This documentation covers the last two months of my journey, from Jujuy to Bolivia, Peru, Aruba and Curacao.
On Monday I bought a solar light for my friend. When someone comes to her front door, she will be warned by the light switching on. Further on Monday I continued to work my way through my archives in the cellar box. One particular item I did not yet find: pictures made by me on my journey through Argentina.
On Tuesday I continued work on my archives. Further I contacted my friend in Canada to congratulate him with his birthday: he was with his son and his two daughters were there too.
My friend with her dog Toots came here for lunch: she brought me a bottle of red cooked pears, very yummy.
With beautiful crisp winter weather, I went walking into town. My first objective was to look at the construction work going on in the street between the church and the railway station. Both walkways are re-paved with the exception of the parts at some of the side roads. At the railway station I charged my ‘public transport’ chip card. From there I walked into town, searching for two birthday presents.
I found the presents in a bookshop, after which I went satisfied to a terrace to have a pint of local beer, sitting in the lovely winter sun.

OLV terras A beer in the winter sun.
Of course, I did see much of the Olympic winter games, but on Friday I finally found what I was looking for in my cellar box: the photographs I produced during my trip in Argentina.
On Saturday, I am full awake around 3 o’clock at night and write about the worries of that moment. I am upset about the tendency to forbid things I grew up with. Apparently, one must stretch one’s thoughts with everything one does, in order not to arouse the anger of people that are extremely touchy and focussed upon anything that might have the smell of discrimination. It feels like turning into a society where I will become discriminated being white and Christian.
After a second and better period of sleep, I am at ease again and go for a walk in the forest.

Boswandeling (1) Walk in the forest.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, February 18-24.

Argentina start foto
My friend, ‘Medio Loco Oscar’, is going to El Calafate. He comes to see me and checked if I would have something to do there. No, I do have plenty to do here, in Rio Gallegos.

web wk8-1 tierra del fuego Trip through Tierra del Fuego.

I bought a map of the province Santa Cruz and picked up the saddle bags made for me. After that I rode Jil for an hour, which he did like very much. My film camera is failing me: from now on I cannot register my trip on video any longer. I sent the camera back to Holland, together with a lot of other things I now, after 8 weeks in Argentina, consider not really necessary. The whole package is 5 kg and that is too much for one box. I have to use 3 boxes and transportation will be by sea at the cost of $68. I packed, paid the hostel, Oscar stores most of my luggage. I am leaving very late in the afternoon, riding through the country as advised. Just outside town the wind is changing from moderate to stormy and ice-cold sleet is slamming my face. The impact of the ice particles is such that my face feels like burning. I find shelter behind some buildings. The only life there is a bitch with 8 puppies. There I put on my rain cloth, not so much against the rain but more to avoid too much cooling down from evaporation of my soaking wet ski suit.

web wk8 Gendarmeria Nacional Gendarmeria is not the same as “police”.

At a check point the serving police man is tedious: he asks my documentation which I have to fork out of my saddle bags. While I am inside the police station, Jil eats up all the vegetation around him, including the flower beds. I eat a roll, not paying much attention to Jil, who manages to pinch half the roll from me, nearly taking half a finger as well. Around 22:00 o’clock I arrive at my destination for today, the estancia annex hotel Güer Aiken. The owner, a good-looking woman, tells me that this is no longer a farm. She lives from mostly foreigners coming here for trout fishing. I get a good meal and a short and narrow bed.
Breakfast on Saturday is good. The night is not cheap for $135. At 10 o’clock I am on my way again.

web wk8-2 Argentina South Through Chili by truck.
No wind today. The road is straight like a ruler and pretty dull. There is only few traffic and every driver is hooting and waving. They may have seen me on TV the other day in Rio Gallegos. After some 50km I arrive at estancia San Cristobal. The two men present there, guarding the premises because the owner is in Rio Gallegos, are very welcoming. On Sunday, I get a better picture of the situation. One of the men is from Chili, he left his children and a nagging wife. He is travelling and leaving this Monday. The second one is also travelling, on a mountain bike with wheels approximately 10cm out of line. He carries a small dog in a basket above his front wheel. He also leaves on Monday, without complaining.
These two appeared to have been especially here for 14 days. Late on Sunday the actual caretaker arrives with his wife and an old funny gaucho. The wife makes a meal for all of us. They don’t have electricity here, so at nightfall around 8 o’clock everybody goes to bed. I go with a head wound, struck my head against the doorpost which is only 170cm high.
Monday is a day with strong winds, force 10-11 from ahead. Again, the road is straight and dull, but Jil is going very well today: he keeps a steady pace, trot and 5 minutes quiet walking. I have to bent forward nearly flat laying over Jil’s head, in order not to be blown out the saddle. Jil does not care: he goes steady. When we are both tired, I guide Jil into a riverbed, underneath a bridge. The water from the river is blown out of its bed. Nevertheless, I fall eat something and fall asleep. Jil is having a good time with plenty to graze and drink. We carry with less wind that changed direction and is now nearly warm. The smell of blossoming weeds is strong and pleasant. We arrive at the intended goal: a police station. Only one soul is present, friendly, provides Jil with water but tells us to go on further up the road, another 6 kms to Ea. Las Vegas. Along the road there is a large white horse, running loose. We chase it into a confined location. After passing a cattle grid and a gate, we have to pass a gravel road. Jil does not like that at all, but we arrive at a set of sheds and a house with broken windows. A lorry with all sorts of unknown gear and a couple of men are busy nearby. One of these men comes up and he introduces him as the local schoolteacher who is living here, alone. He directs me to a building where, as he says, I will find more people. I find only a dog and chickens. I put Jil into the garden where he has water. After a while an old guy arrives, friendly. He guides me into another house, clean, well furnished, good kitchen and electricity. The old man is working here, 5 years now, but the estancia is sold and that’s why it is a mess everywhere. The new owners never showed up yet. The man has a job here but would rather immigrate to New-Zealand or Australia. People in Rio Gallegos warned me for horse thieves. Travelling thieves stealing horses and eating them. On the way I have seen two carcasses of foals. It seems necessary to guard Jil and be aware. I am thinking about taking a dog. My host cooks a meal and provides me with a bed, light, a bath and maté. The night is clear and cold but my bed is warm enough.
During breakfast, Tuesday, the 20th day of riding, I plan the day. It will not be easy. It is freezing cold and there is nothing between here and Ea. El Ceferino, my next destination. I go through the country now, following instructions from my host. It is not easy, because I don’t know to find the gates in the many fences. My binoculars don’t help me either: no passage in sight. I take my pliers, cut some wires and put down the fence by standing on it. Jil is pretty nervous when crossing the wires on the ground. He makes me lose my equilibrium, so that I get off the wires underneath my feet. The wires go up again a little too early. The barbed wire cuts a leg from Jil and my overall, but we passed. I repair the fence and we carry on. Late in the afternoon we arrive at El Ceferino, with a welcoming family with three small children. The two oldest children (7 and 9 y) are the whole week at school, where they stay overnight. Only the youngest one (5y) is home and happily running around, playing with 3 kittens. We have a very pleasant evening and they teach me a new card game. In bed, late, I hear the wind picking up. I wonder about what is going to happen tomorrow: today was an exciting day.
Wednesday, February 24, 1999: 21st day of travelling. Breakfast is rich: beef, eggs. The wind is strong but not cold. Jil is taken to stables where he is fed and saddled. The men are certainly very positive about Jil. I do some work on his horseshoes. We discuss my trip of today. I can go through the valley: shorter and plenty water and grass, but fences. When I press for more info, they agree that I would meet lots of fences and conclude that taking the road is faster. The road is straight, dull and against the wind. There is no water on the way, but I carry water which Jil drinks happily from a plastic bag. After nearly 6 hours of driving, we arrive in Esperanza. There I buy food, coffee, bread and carrots. I don’t like to stay here for the night. During the trip with ‘medio loco Oscar’ I know to have seen a nice spot for camping. Underneath a bridge a stop. Jil is taking a bath in the river. I put on all the clothes I have and make myself comfortable for the night, covered in a large plastic sheet. In the middle of the night I wake up with a scream: ‘What is going on!’ Apparently, I have been sleeping with an awareness of possible danger. The wind blew up the plastic sheet and the noise alarmed me. After having analysed the situation, I fall asleep again.

web wk8 Province Santa Cruz

Asleep at the upper end of the red drawn line.



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Week 07-2018. Amersfoort.

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.

Toots terug van de jacht (2) 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.

Lunch in Leusden 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.

Centraal Zon & Schild 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.

Argentina start foto
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.

plattegrond-rio-gallegos-e1518998084766.jpg Rio Gallegos.


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.

arg1 de kinderen van Daniel en Adriana + guanaco bij VictorGuanaco

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. Tekening van Cintia
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.

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