South America, Day Eight: Patagonia, Chile

Today we spent five hours on a horse. In the snow. Subsequently, we’re broken, hungry and in need of wine.

My horse was called Toastie…

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And Vicki’s was called Pickled Onion (but the Spanish word for it, which neither of us can remember)…

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The horses were amazing – feisty, fiery and nifty on their hooves; they hoiked us up those mountains in a jiffy. They also slipped over a fair few times (“nay” good) but, thankfully, didn’t completely go head over hooves.

I’ve never been on a horse in the snow before. It was bloody freezing. We didn’t even have proper coats on and it was about minus five with the wind-chill (so we guessed).

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Five hours is just too long. And we didn’t have a break – not for water, food, or a wee!

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The couple who owned the gaucho ranch were… odd. Well, the bloke who took us out was ok but the woman was a bit like that bird out of Misery – Annie Wilkes. And the house looked like the set. It was dirty, smelly and nothing really worked. And lunch was… gross. Cold potato salad with… a hotdog. No bread. Just one of those fake sausages; you know, the ones that live in a tin, the ones that taste like slime and brine?

But, dodgy food and a complete lack of a sandwich aside, I loved being back in the saddle and the views were stunning.

10850217_637158385168_9047012744488464535_nThere were some very funny moments today. My horse couldn’t quite cope with steep downward hills and normally missed his target, colliding head / rider first into trees. Thanks for those bruises, Toastie. Toastie also cantered down a very steep slope and I had to duck and dive out of the way of branches. I nearly lost an eye. All in the name of adventure!

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(Photo by Jan De Roos)

Vicki’s horse had an anger management problem and kicked Jan’s horse in the face. Jan (the volunteer) wasn’t impressed. Neither was his piebald. Pickled Onion totally ignored Vicki’s instruction – I had to shout ‘kick him’ on several occasions. Her response: ‘but I don’t want to kick him, he might move!’. They were standing on a vertical slope at the time. He also fell over… it was touch and go for Vicki for quite some time while Pickled Onion got back to his feet.

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And poor Jan (the couple called him the Spanish equivalent – ‘Juan’) was on a fiery steed, who kept jumping, rearing and bolting. Jan had only ever been on a horse once. When he was eight. And yet he got the most insane horse. I guess that’s how they treat volunteers; ‘you can take him, be careful not to die, right let’s go!’.

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We were pretty broken so we didn’t do much in the evening. We went to Casino del los Bambado for dinner… and had two ridiculously strong Pisco Sours. And more meat. Chileans love their meat. I had ‘pichangas en local’. Still not entirely sure what that was – meat, sausage meat, more meat, cheap tin sausage meat, sprinkled with meat and some manky veg – and some more meat. Sandra joined us in the evening and we followed the pisco with wine at Ricer.

Never a good idea.

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