While we waited for our host in the gas station outside of Piedra del Aguila, drinking cold beers, Ramon pointed to the horizon wide eyed.
“Oh my goodness that is the cutest thing I have ever seen,” he said while I turned to look.
Riding towards us was a little Gaucho about 7-years-old, atop of mighty miniature paint pony. My heart melted.
“Filipe welcome to Piedra del Aguila, Luis said standing next to his son.
Together we made our way towards the rodeo grounds where the horses would rest the following day. Luis hosted Ramon and I in his home and we fell deeper in love with his young son. At night, over a pizza topped with juicy steak, the little Gaucho showed us how he could play the guitar, accordion, dance folklore and recite poetry. He was an all-around Gaucho!
The next morning Ramon and I marvelled at the large rock formations around the town. They were so intricate and interesting, like nothing i had seen prior. A bright red color, they rose out of the middle of the desert in different shapes and forms. Some looked like faces while others resembled small buildings.
“Millions of years ago this was the ocean floor, that’s why the rocks have these round shapes,” an elderly gentleman told us later that day.
From Piedra de Aguila southward for 200 km, the Andes pre-cordillera sprung up around us as the vegetation transitioned from burned grass and sand to green fields and pine trees. The droughts of northern Patagonia and Argentina came to an abrupt end as bright blue sparkling glacial rivers and lakes emerged on both sides of the road. A true gift.
But the mountains brought new danger in the blind turns and twisty narrow roads sandwiched between rivers and jagged rock faces. Trucks and buses roared past the horses and I at 120 kilometres an hour. Yet my sturdy steeds kept trekking without missing a beat. Picasso and Sapo matured from fearful ponies to brave horses in these past three months.
Ramon also took on a new quiet power. I remember the image of us entering Bariloche together with me atop Picasso while he rode Sapo, the Andes glowing under the midday sun and Lake Nahuel Huapi giving everything a sparkling blue glow. It was the perfect ending to our time together.
“I will never forget this beautiful adventure,” Ramon said to me wrapping his right arm around my shoulder. I smiled at him.
I will never be able to thank Ramon for his help!