I could no longer remember my last ride. How long had it been… ten, fifteen years. The horseback had been my second home during my whole youth, but after an accident I wasn’t able to find my way back. Therefore, right at the appropriate age to start a grown up’s life, I buried my dream of a life with horses and instead of becoming a cowgirl I went to university. Except for some foster animals and my beloved dog, with her death approaching, I ended up working on animals, not living with them.
But things had changed since I met this “Gaucho” in the middle of my hometown and although I could not get a grip of what it was, something in his behaviour had reawakened my old longing. It was not just the way he walked, as if he’d gone for miles and was still eager to go much further. It was his whole energy, as if he was untouchable by the rush of an every-day-city-life.
Shortly after, I came across pictures of horseback-travelling in the Andes and my carefully build up walls started to crumble. Undue to a lady, from then on this every-girls-dream haunted me down and the longer it stayed with me, the more colourful grew the pictures of my possible adventure. As if it was the most natural thing, I was now thinking about leaving for the Andes and going for a long distance ride. With the conviction of a child, but the stamina of an adult, I did what I could to make it happen… even as a Gringa.
As organized and educated as I was, I began a to-do list but as I had no idea what was about to come, the list stayed very short. I wanted to go further than I’d ever done and this on horseback. Moreover I was afraid of heights and not used to riding any longer. It comes as no surprise, that by then I knew near to nothing about Gauchos and while I dreamed of sleeping high up in the mountains right beneath the southern sky, I had never camped in great heights or to orientate “upside down”. Another “minor detail” was the fact that I hardly remembered any Spanish from my school years.
In an attempt to prepare myself nonetheless, I started with the obvious and basic tasks and added a good portion of intrinsically humor to make myself feel at ease. The first step was to challenge my vertigo as it made no sense to think about the Andes, if I couldn’t even push myself to go over an old stone bridge lying in the mists. The other thing was to reach an agreement for an extended leave from work. Right after this I booked my flight.
Next I would have to deal with another crucial point and climb a horse again. Thanks to a friend of mine I could try me out in the most relaxed atmosphere. I had not believed it myself, but the moment the horse responded to my bending sitting position, the old feeling came back and the doors to my home swung open. After that I took two more riding lessons but it didn’t feel the same and so I concluded that riding round in circles in a confined space wouldn’t bring me any closer to my goal. By then I also took an online Spanish course, read books and watched some movies in Spanish. The most fun part though, was to go to Latin bars and events, where I enjoyed and immersed myself in music, dancing and the positive energy. In the end all I could and would have to take with me, were the right spirit, an emergency contact fluid in Spanish, my backpack and my mantra: “Unthinkable but possible”.
While winter was about to take hold of Europe, I finally settled myself in my window seat and took off. Soon Cordoba, the one in Spain, was right to my feet and before we made our way over the Atlantic, the cabin crew freed us from the trays and turned down the lights. Thinking of the ups and downs of the last days I drifted away until I woke again greeted by the Southern Cross standing clear above the clouds. I had this great feeling that the first and maybe hardest steps of my journey were already behind me. In front of me remained nothing less than a starting point and unimagined possibilities.