Journey America Part 2

Choele Choel

From Rio Colorado to choele choel, I had a great travelling partner drive the van for me.
Luca, Caro’s son in law volunteered to help me through this dry stretch of land. According to them we would not find any water for the horses along the road.
“You need someone with you these next 120 kms Filipe, or the horses will suffer a lot,” Caro warned a few days before I left.
On our first day out the sun burned bright early in the morning and by noon it was unbearable to ride. I found a tree to hide under and ate a light lunch followed by an Argentinian siesta. It was marvellous. Thanks to Luca the horses had water and alfalfa to keep them busy while we waited for the heat to subdue.
Just before we were about to ride out again, a couple with a small child pulled over and asked for help. Their car had broken down and they needed someone to tow them back to town. I receive so much help everyday, I felt like it was my duty to offer a friendly hand and return all of the favours I have received on the road. I asked Luca if he didn’t mind and he happily pulled the family’s car to Rio Colorado.
With the day feeling a little cooler, I continued south alone. I rode and rode and rode as the sun climbed down the sky. When it was about to dive under the horizon, with no sign of Luca, I decided it was time to stop. I found a fence line to tie the horses to and sat on the side of the road staring at nothing. I was in the middle of nowhere.
By the time darkness set in I began to worry he would not be able to see me so I grabbed my headlamp and put it on flicker mode. Luckily, Luca arrived shortly after and spotted the light.
“Man I’m so sorry but they made me drive them from one mechanic to another looking for a better price,” he said worried he had let me down.
“No worries brother,” I responded calming him.
We cooked sausages and ate them with bread. After dinner, dead tired, we hit the hay. The next morning we awoke early and continued on. With the days only getting hotter, I needed to ride out before the sun rose.
For the next couple of days we rode hard through the dry, dry north of Patagonia. Having Luca with me made all of the difference in the world. Without the van, the horses would have gone days without drinking.
On our second last night we rode up to a bar on the right side of the road. The only building near the road in the 120 kms we crossed. An elderly couple ran a small bar and restaurant they opened 40 years ago in the house now falling apart.
“People on bicycles, motorcycles and cars have stopped to sleep here, but you are the first to come on horseback,” the cute little lady said through her toothless smile.
Living in the middle of nowhere had clear effects on both. They had a deep desire to chat and share stories. They were noticeably lonely.
When Luca and I were alone in the middle of the desert we talked a lot about life. He was only 19-years-old but already had a 2-year-old daughter to care for.
“It’s not easy you know, life changes completely after you have a child,” he told me over a small fire one night.
He explained to me how he used to love to party and go out. But when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant that all ended. And unfortunately, the ranch hand is currently unemployed.
“I’m hoping to work picking fruit this season, I need to make some money,” he said.
After four days Luca and I rode into Choele Choel with dusty smiles. It had been another rough stretch of land but thanks to the kindness of another stranger, we made it. I thanked Luca with a strong hug after we wet our dry throats with a cold miller by a gorgeous river.
Before saying goodbye to my new friend, I paid him for his time helping me.
“Filipe, I can’t accept this,” he said to me. I didn’t give him an option. He had helped me tremendously and would use the money for his little girl.