The first ride…
One could easily get lost in the pleasantness of this valley, with its mild spring weather, good food and tasty wines. So for the first days I recoiled in myself, refilling my batteries. The following days I hiked the natural treasures in my surrounding and ended up at the dunes for a spectacular full moon night.
Sitting on top of the highest dune, I watched a beautiful lightshow performed by the last sun rays and clouds, seemingly streaming from the sky. Soon after, the moon made it way up the mountains, appearing as a golden eye. At last the stars overtook, leaving me alone among millions.
Adding to all of it, a shooting star vanished within the blink of an eye and made my deepest wish blaze its trail out of my innermost. Some time later the moon reigned again, and its light would bring me to rest for the night.
The day the donkeys came down from the mountains to feed on the green of the plaza, I made my first Apfelstrudel in Argentina. The experience of my granny had always let it look so easy, like it was nothing more than running the mass over your hands until you can shadow play through it. But things don’t come out of nothing and as I had talked with some locals about my riding plans, I knew now that no gaucho here would lend me horses for a trip on my own. Following the advices, my main obstacles were the language barrier, my blond hair and me being a female foreigner, making me seem untrustworthy altogether.
Why soever, this wouldn’t make me back away, but manifested my wanting instead. To go one step after the other, was all I could do and so I arranged my first ride for the next day.
When I arrived at the meeting point, where the Gaucho was awaiting me with the horses, I was overly exited. I would have a Peruano, a horse breed to cross the plains on a wide amble with quick pace. The riding instruction consisted of nothing more than “For turning left, press left, for right, press right” and “if you want to stop the horse, pull the rains”. Five minutes later, with a way more talkative Gaucho then I had been warned about, we were setting out for my first unrestrained ride after years.
The Gaucho leading, we got closer to the Quebrada and its impressive stone formations. Besides the landscape, I was impressed by the comfort of the saddle, which was far better than the ones I was used to. As my horse would follow the leading one its own, I tested out its reactions and tempi and found it responding just fine. Through the hot hours, we walked on until we reached the dead end of the valley and while we gave the horses a short rest in the shadow, I climbed up the next slope. All the joy that had filled up inside me during the ride, stirred me up. I wanted to go further, up the mountains and close to the firmament.
On our way back, my thoughts went their own way. It had been a nice ride in a beautiful setting, but it had only reminded me of the feeling I had, when I strived through nature on the back of my horse in my younger days. All in all, I missed the freedom of an adventure.
Although things went different than I had imagined, my last day in the valley developed just fine. I met some nice guys from Germany and joined in with them for a visit to a bodega nearby. Finding ourselves at at the only organic bodega over here, we got a diverting tour and tasted us through delicious Torrontes and Malbec selections. For the evening we enjoyed ourselves with some more wine accompanying our dinner. To complement it, I got my first thunder and rain. As electricity came down we all gathered in the kitchen, telling stories while the rain flooded the yards and the kitchen itself. Due to the language barrier, I had missed the joy of humorous and easygoing conversations and thus celebrated the hours.
The next day I wouldn’t join in for another tour, but followed my way in the opposite direction. To strengthen the base for my dream I had booked some more riding days in the cloud forests. I hoped there I would learn how to catch a horse, manage the Saltean saddles and safely deal with the horses during my planned nights under the stars.