Continuing from my last post: Argentina….
We left Dallas, Texas in the evening. I met Tina in the Admiral’s Club for a pre-flight cocktail. We were both very excited.
Okay, I was so excited I was vibrating.
We chatted and laughed, always a good sign when starting a trip with someone I am just getting to know. Although Tina and I ride almost everyday, we rode together a few times in preparation for the long days in the saddle in Patagonia. You learn a lot about someone when you travel with them.
Patagonia is a region of South America that is shared by Chile and Argentina. It is a term first used by Magellan when he saw the indigenous people, the Tehuelches, who were said to be taller than him and his men. Patagonia, meant something similar to”big foot” in their Spanish. Once we arrived in Argentina,after a day or so,we were headed to the province of Neuquen, where Estancia Ranquilco is located.
A ten hour flight later, we arrived in the Buenos Aires Airport and a friend, Carlos, picked us up. Feeling relieved to see a friendly face waiting for us, I would always suggest to any woman who is nervous about traveling by herself to arrange for someone to meet you for your ride to the hotel. By chance, someone I knew from school lived in the city, so Carlos took us to her beautiful apartment in an old, historic part of Buenos Aires and we dropped our baggage off, then jumped back in his car for a quick tour of downtown. He filled us in on some of the history, political and otherwise, explained a bit about the buildings we were looking at and patiently waited while our language differences slowly melted away and we were happily conversing in English/Castillano. I had four years of Spanish in school…he had some English…it helped a lot.
Making our way back to the apartment, we picked up our hostess and began to walk through the city. Down by the port area, restaurants lined the docks and there was a variety of interesting eateries to choose from, many of them specializing in Italian food because of the strong Italian influence in Buenos Aires.
It reminded me of the architecture of Paris, the locals spoke Spanish or Castillano and the food is a mixture of Italian or Mediterranean influence. Everyone was very patient with our Spanish when we ordered and tried to be helpful.
Tina and I laughed a lot…no really…a wierd amount. We agreed, we laughed more on this trip than we usually do in our daily laughing. Nothing was particularly funny, I think we were just having such a great time and everything we were experiencing was so interesting and new.
The departure day for the long bus ride south to Neuquen, finally arrived and our hostess, Wendy, who also rents out her apartment on Air B-n-B, took us to the bus station. She supervised our ticket purchase and made sure we waited in the correct area. We knew a driver would be waiting for us nineteen or so hours later in Zapala and were a bit nervous about possibly getting on the wrong bus.
Our transportation was on what is known as a luxury bus. That means, the seats recline a bit and we are served a meal. We had purchased an assortment of Malbec wines from Mendosa, at the neighborhood grocery for the bus ride, but we should have brought a gallon of water each as the bus was very stingy on the drinking water. We got underway and the sky darkened as we whizzed past clumps of Patagonian grass and the extraordinary landscape.We fell asleep to the sounds of the highway, the Southern Cross shining brightly in the sky above us.
Next: Meeting our driver and the trip to Buta Mallin and our horses…