Joining the herd…
As it is with dreams that come true, in reality they look different than one imagines and although I had no further details about the days to come, my light-hearted approach made me show up at the agreed upon meeting point. Having arrived there on time, I waited for over an hour but there was no sign of the guy I was supposed to meet and so I started asking around. Surprisingly, nobody would give away his whereabouts or even seemed to know anything about my guide-to-be. As my self-assurance began to show its first cracks, I wondered whether the welcoming art of the Argentines had bypassed this village or if I was at the wrong place altogether.
For lack of a better idea, I got myself another drink at the only cafeteria open throughout the siesta hours. Not long after, hoof beats at the far end of the plaza signaled the beginning of the next chapter of my journey.
The two of them were a picturesque sight, as he rode the horse in a slow but engaging walk down the plaza and right up to me. As their appearence dominated the scenery, not only the rider but the horse itself reminded me of the Dons I’d read about, acknowledging their people but leaving no doubt who was in charge here.
When he stopped in front of me but would not dismount for a welcome, the moment was over and I – back in reality.
Trying to keep up I followed him to get a first glimpse at the accomodation and drop my luggage. Then we set out for the Gaucho Club, he on horse and the turista following on foot. Surprised as I was, I thought about how the scene we gave contrasted the first moment. Wouldn’t one expect such a gentleman to give a lady a lift whenever he could?
Each in its own pace, we reached our goal at the end of the village and the moment the door to the Gaucho club swung open, all previous thoughts were forgotten. It had been months since a picture of the horse in front of me had unleashed an old longing and now he and the Mula were awaiting our return.
In the little hide away at the foot of the cordillera the atmosphere changed once more. A boy came down to get the Gaucho’s horse and his mother living in the backhouse had some empañadas ready. Inhaling the scenery, I enjoyed watching the guys tidying up the leader of the herd and joking around, while the boy showed off his already impressive horseback skills. The Mula hadn’t let me get close the first instant but the calming reassurance that had conquered me, stayed with me until it was my turn. After so many years I once more found happiness on earth – in the saddle of this horse.
The remaining hours of the day went by peacefully, spent caring for and getting to know the animals, preparations for the ride and a good time at the main pub, being a far more relaxed way to meet one or the other local.
For the next day it was already planned that we would set out for the mountains, but when we went back to the horses, they had bad news for us. The Don had hurt his leg and could not be ridden. Examining him closer, he had a wire stuck in its hoof and although I could free him of it, he would need to get treatment and rest at least one more day.
Instead of leaving, we therefore set out for an afternoons ride to a hill nearby. With my spirits high, this ride was just as good as starting out on our trip. Besides, it gave me a little more time to adapt to my new situation.