Argentina, Salto : 12th July 2002

It seems that things with Miss M and the TATA Challenge are changing as quickly as the political situation in Argentina (I guess I don't have to remind you that in January this year we had four presidents in 2 weeks!).

I wrote the last diary entry under the name of Mise but I have to inform you that this is not the case anymore. Miss M thought that I might start to exhibit too many female characteristics with a name like Mise (I tried to tell her that my feminine side is in actual fact very well developed anyway) and that it would be more appropriate for me to be addressed as Tusa. (I will tell you soon the other reason behind this). Yes, I am the well behaved one on our first day of the journey and it's me (the brave one) who ended up galloping for about 10km in the pitch dark with Miss M. And this is where I finished my last diary entry with Miss M and I safely at our next destination. Miss M told me to keep my diary entries short otherwise she won't have anything to say at a later stage but off course I will share bits and pieces with you.

The people at the next farm were really very hospitable and Mercedes (the woman of our host family) seemed to be a good horse rider with a lot of experience. She suggested that they with Miss M go out to where Tusa (still his name at that stage) was left behind halfway the night before and she offered to ride him back to the farm just to get a feel for him. True to his nature, Tusa struggled when they tried to put on the bridle (I don't know who trained him but he has a lot to learn!) and after a while, Mercedes got on top. It was about an hour and a half later when they reached the farm and she confirmed Miss M's suspicions that he is indeed incredibly lazy and needs a lot of spurring on. She also wasn't impressed when she saddled me up later and tried to lead Tusa who just kept on pulling back, giving very little co-operation. I also thought this to be a bad reflection on me as he made it very difficult for me to move smoothly.

A very important decision was then made by Miss M and later she announced that she would be travelling with only me. She realized that she had to minimise the pack considerably but I think this didn't bother her too much. I knew she'd rather have only the basics with her than having to struggle with a burro (meaning "donkey" in Spanish). I heard them using this name when talking about Tusa but decided not to share this with him and spare his feelings. "What you don't know, doesn't hurt you" my mother always said! And in any case, it is not his fault that he didn't get proper training or wasn't ridden enough.

The next day was an early start and after Miss M came to fetch me, Tusa kept on calling for me. The sound of his voice was breaking my heart but the decision was made and there was no turning back. I knew it was for the best. I wasn't overly impressed when I spotted what I had to carry but stood still nevertheless whilst everything was loaded and tied on top of me. It was a chilly morning (the blue skies very deceptive) and after Miss M put on her poncho and took a few pictures, we were rearing to go. It was a dirt road for most of the way to our next destination and I found the dust from a few oncoming cars rather irritating. I also kept on thinking of Tusa alone in the paddock and a few times I suddenly stopped abruptly with no intention of continuing. Miss M got quite annoyed with me and decided to use the leading rope as a whip to spur me on. Now call me a wimp but I don't like physical pain and after a few raps on the bum I decided to stop the messing. Mercedes' daughter, Sofia (a lovely 16-year old girl) came out with their 4x4 (called a camionetta over here) a couple of times to check on Miss M and I just to see if everything is going well. I was walking with a lively trot at this stage and just as well she didn't spot me pulling one of my tricks!

We reached our next town after about 3 and a half hours on the road and as we entered the side of the town, we spotted a girl in front of a house, waiving and indicating to go in her direction. Everybody was waiting for us with great excitement and there were a lot of questions (a mixture of English and Spanish combined with some very expressive sign language!) whilst I was sipping some (well deserved!) water and Miss M tucking into a plate of Milanessa - breaded chicken, which is a national favourite dish).

More news until next time!

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