Argentina, Jujuy: 20th August 2002

At last Mise lets me have a word again and I will pick up where she left of last...

Well, I was at Los Lapachos for about four or five days on my own until I got joined again by Mise. I have to say I was very lucky about the break (from her… only joking!) and when the "team" arrived on the farm, I was very much rested and chilled. My leg also was getting better and the gaucho on the farm, regularly put some antibiotic cream on the wound above my hoof. I stayed in a corral next to the house of Anthony & Gaby Leach (he is the son of Richard & Caroline) and whenever Anthony would bring me alfalfa and give me some fresh water, their three lovely little girls would come to keep me company as well, feeding me bits of maize.

So, I was a little bit surprised when Mise arrived and all I got was a friendly nod and not even a head-rub or anything. She definitely kept her distance and I just thought "typical woman… just when you think you have them sussed…" and left her to herself.

Miss M stayed for a night or two in the farm and then went into Salta city, about 70km south from Los Lapachos. She found the central part of the city very pretty where the square (every town in Argentina has one and they are wonderful meeting places, giving a nice atmosphere and character to the place) is and also discovered a B & B but without the second "B" as they served no breakfast! Mrs Maria Toffoli runs the place and apparently she was very friendly, fussing over her guests like a real mother-hen (who doesn't feed her chickens?! Ha!). Miss M was also very happy when two days later she got to meet two really nice Irish girls (Orlaith & Jacinta) who came over from Igaccu falls in Brazil to see her in Salta. They got on very well and even spent two days up in the mountains, following more or less the same route as the Tren de los Nubes (the train in the clouds). They also saw the Salinas (white salt lakes for as far as the eye can see combined with a powerful blue sky) and they all thought it extremely beautiful and out of the ordinary. They went up to heights of about 4250m and fortunately none of them suffered with the altitude. Miss M had coca leaves (they are used to make cocaine but you need huge quantities to do so) ready in her bag (the leaves are meant to keep hunger and thirst at bay and also to help against altitude sickness) but they all found the smell so disgusting that nobody dared try to put it in their mouths. A little birdie had told me that Miss M and the girls went out the night before and they saw numerous men with bulging cheeks chewing these leaves and they were positively put-off by the look and smell of this very strange habit.

And then a terrible thing happened….

I got bitten! I imagine you would visualize some vicious animal now or maybe a big carnivorous bird or something but it saddens me to tell you that it was indeed my pal Mise who did the damage. I will never understand her motives and in fact I have by now given up trying to figure out why she sometimes behave in these "odd" ways, without warning or notice. Still, it doesn't take away from the fact that it wasn't pleasant to be munched like that and Miss M was really shocked when she saw this big bloody wound on my back, just below the cross. This latest development off course meant that instead of one week's rest in Salta, it had to be extended until a time that the wound has healed AND the hair has grown back so that I can have something on my back again. Miss M was annoyed & frustrated but also realized that these things happen and the only thing one can do is to make the best of a bad situation.

Orlaith & Jacinta left the following day to go to Buenos Aires (Orlaith is an expert at the tango and Jacinta was going to learn a few of the steps of this melancholic and sensual dance as well) and Miss M was very sorry to see them go. She decided then that she will have to make the best use of the time and thought it a good idea to learn more Spanish and also to get her saddle-bags, etc. streamlined and sorted. During this "waiting time", she was also very lucky to have met some important people in the Gendarmeria (the army who guard the border for drug trafficking between Boliva & Argentina) and they offered to assist us once we are in a position to get going again. She also became friends with Maria Ines & Manolo, a couple who run their own Law Bookshop and Miss M had a few very entertaining music evenings with them. They were also so kind to arrange for a little "going away" before she finally left Salta and Miss M was delighted that Ernesto Day (a very talented Folklore singer) could have been there as well. Miss M got a beautiful machete as a present from Guillermo (a man who knows a lot about horses. He also wears traditional clothing most days) and we thought indeed it was a very impressive type of "knife", fitted into a lovely leather holder which you attach to the saddle for easy access. The only thing we doubted a little bit was Miss M's ability to use it efficiently but we thought we'd give her the benefit of the doubt….(until proved wrong!)

Mise and I will be in touch again. She usually can't wait for the opportunity to talk and so I guess the next update will be from her. Do not fear however, I'll be back again!

Until then….

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