Journey America Part 2
In the city of Chimpay I was welcomed and hosted like family.
Before I arrived a radio host put me in touch with Ramon Bastias, who offered to host me in his town. Like many days on the road, I rode wondering what my host was like. You have to remember I depend on these folks intensely, yet I don’t know any of them before arriving at their doorstep. A fun yet stressful experience at times.
I followed an irrigation ditch all day that bordered apple and pear farms. I must have eaten 10 apples and about 5 pears straight from the tree. It was marvellous. The heat was not so marvellous. Now in the middle of Argentina’s hot summer, I fought to hide from the murderous sun under my white cowboy hat.
When I was about 5 kilometres from Chimpay a man in a pickup truck stopped me in the small dirt path to offer me a cold drink. I sipped on the orange pop while he explained that a rider was on his way to join me.
The sugary drink straightened my back and the thought of having company for the last hour of the day gave me new life. I was excited!
A few minutes after saying goodbye to my new friend I spotted a rider trotting towards us. With wide smiles we introduced ourselves from atop our mounts.
“Hello my name is Luis, I heard your interview on the radio this morning and just had to ride into town with you,” the chubby man said from under a brown floppy hat.
Luis was born in Chile but has lived in Chimpay for over 20 years. A lover of horses, the construction worker says Argentina has more opportunities than his native Chile.
“I came here to find work and never went back,” he told me while we rode side by side.
Just after 4pm Luis and I rode into a gorgeous park and campground where I would spend the night. I bid my new friend farewell and was welcomed by yet another kind soul – Ramon Bastias.
“Filipe welcome to Chimpay, welcome to the sanctuary of Ceferino Namuncura” the 58-year-old with snow white hair and squinty eyes said to me.
After I untacked the horses, Ramon helped me take them to the near by river for a drink. It was a gorgeous place. While the ponies munched on a bail of alfalfa, we shared a warm Mate and Ramon told me all about the world’s first indigenous saint.
“Many people come to Chimpay every year to thank Ceferino for miracles he has granted. It is said he was raised right here where we are sitting,” he explained.
While we spoke Ramon’s daughter arrived riding one of his horses. The petite brunette sat atop a tall and gorgeous sorrel. She looked like a queen in bombachas.
“It makes me so happy to see her riding,” Ramon said, his eyes glowing with pride.
That night Ramon, who works for the town of Chimpay, hosted me for a delicious barbecue with the mayor and his entire cabinet. It was an amazing night and I can’t thank my amazing host enough.