Argentina, Rosaria de la Frontera : 30th July 2002

The stay in Tucuman was wonderful (for us and for Miss M) and when it was time to leave we felt very much rested and ready to go again. We were accompanied out of the city by the two Gaucho brothers and on the way we saw some interesting things. First we had to pass a lot of shanty towns and Tusa, Miss M and I were shocked to see so many hungry and skinny dogs around. Even the horses that they use to collect rubbish and to transport fruit and vegetables with are terribly underfed. Not a pretty sight. We also saw a lot of smoke (burnt car tyres) in the distance and Tusa told me that this was a demonstration by some people who are suffering and who all very angry about the economical situation in the country.

When it was time for the brothers to turn back, one of them gave Miss M his wooly french beret as a token of friendship. Unfortunately Miss M couldn't do the same as she needed her cap to keep the sun away from her eyes and face! The first 10km out of town was very slow and we got stopped a lot by people who recognized us. One man sang "it's a long way to California…" another wanted a signature, one man brought his small son to be photographed with us, another woman stopped us and said that she had done a 1000km a few years before on horseback…. But time was precious for us and we needed to continue. So when Miss M heard a voice in the distance and saw a small child running towards us, her first thought was not to stop but the child persevered, shouting and waving and we finally came to a halt. When the girl reached us, out of breath, she was so excited to see us and gave my nose a soft pat. She said her name was Gabrielle and she gave Miss M a little card that says, "welcome to Argentina". Then she held out her hand and asked Miss M to write her name on it. She was such a sweet little thing and we will always remember her.

Tusa had an easy day on the way from Tucuman to Vipos as our saddlebags went with a man called Daniel Paz who was waiting for us on his farm with his wife Veronica. The farm consists of a few houses (his and his brother's), wonderfully located between mountains, a little stream that goes through the properties with corrals in the middle where the horses and cattle are kept. After Miss M's long and luxurious bath (she never thought she's be so lucky to get aromatherapy oil in her water!), they went over to Baston Paz's house for a lovely dinner. Daniel & Baston have a band with two more of their brothers called Los Paz so there were singsongs until early in the morning. The brothers have wonderful voices and even I got twang of nostalgia when I heard the deep and soothing folklore sounds floating from the farmhouse.

The next day we headed for El Tala where Santiago Castellanos's brother live with his wife and six kids on a farm called Dateil. This is also the house where the Argentine Sculptress, Villa Mora was born. Miss M was very sorry to say goodbye to this lovely family two days later but she knew that we couldn't stop for long and that there are still miles and miles ahead of us. Tusa's sore back was much better after the rest and I guess the anti-inflammatory injection from the vet also helped a lot.

Miss M was worried about Tusa's back-shoes but was told that he would be fine until our next stop. Well, this wasn't the case because after 15km Miss M decided to have a look and found half of his one shoe missing. Fortunately there was a farm nearby and a Gaucho came out to help us. I don't know if I should say help because ultimately he did more harm than good. Tusa wouldn't stand still for him and the next moment he tied a rope around Tusa's back-legs. Before Miss M could get a word in to say "take it off!", Tusa started kicking frantically, terrified of this snake-like thing around his legs. The shoe did finally come off but at our next destination, Rosario de la Frontera, Miss M got a Farrier out to re-do all our shoes and they noticed that Tusa's leg (just above the right back hoof) had been quite badly injured. There must have been an old wound and with the rope around the previous day, it went open again. The vet was called out and he said that the Tusa would have to rest a few days before we could continue. Miss M thought he might need more than just a few days to recover and decided to arrange a horsebox to get Tusa up to the Province of Jujuy.

Here the Leach family had a farm called Los Lapachos and they had been in touch with Miss M for quite a while, offering for us to stay there for a rest-period. It gave Miss M great peace of mind to know that Tusa was going to his farm but I didn't hear all the details so when Tusa got into the horsebox and I got left behind, I was frantic. He looked around and called out for me and when I heard his voice, I started running behind the pick-up truck. I was deaf for Miss M's and Bernard Elliot's calls and all I did was focus on Tusa in the horse-box in the distance. Sadly I didn't manage to catch up with them and not long after I was caught by some men on the side of the road who held on to me until Miss M came to pick me up again. All I could do, was hope and hope that Tusa and I would see each other again.

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