Journey America Part 2

Ride to Bariloche Starts

In a ranch just outside of Neuquen, Ramon and I organized the van while Sapo and Picasso grazed nearby. We took everything out of the clunky vehicle and placed it back from the back towards the front in order of importance.
“We should leave the horses feed and the water barrel near the door because we will use it a lot,” Ramon said while we studied the empty van.
I can’t even begin to describe how nice it was to have someone to help me after so many hard months on the road alone. Once we finished organizing the support vehicle we drove to a  cheap restaurant where we chowed down two Milanesa sandwiches and drank three cold Quilmes.
“Filipe we are about to cross some hard desert but after Piedra del Aguila you will ride across some stunning country,” Ramon said during dinner.
Early the next morning we began our trek together. Ramon drove ahead while I rode Sapo ponying Picasso with nothing on his back. The packsaddle stashed away deep in the van. We left super early to end the day before the hot sun massacred the ponies and I. This week the weather channel called for days in the mid 40’s.
With the sun rising to my left, I followed an empty road, still in construction. Much to my surprise, a group of indigenous catholics, crossed paths with me singing a beautiful song. A man and a woman led the way strumming two old guitars while a large group followed close behind creating a powerful hymn. I didn’t want to interrupt them so I never asked just what they were doing. But with warm smiles they said hello by bobbing their heads.
Five kilometres up the road, Ramon met me with medialunas (Argentinian croissant) and a strong coffee. It was just what I needed. Day one was already off to an amazing start.
That afternoon before I arrived in the small town where we would rest, a blond woman stopped her vehicle on the side of the road and offered me an apple. I thanked her and she drove off while I munched on the delicious fruit.
When we arrived at the house where we would spend the night, she returned with a friend begging me to go with her to her radio show. I was tired and hungry, but like always couldn’t say no. So for two hours I sat in the furnace that was her radio studio and answered many questions before loud reggaeton tracks blared over the speakers.
After the show, one of her sponsors offered to pay a hotel room for Ramon and I. Because the horses would have to sleep tied up I couldn’t leave their side, but accepted the room for Ramon! For the 58-year-old, a warm shower and comfortable bed would make a huge difference. And knowing he was sleeping comfortably made me feel a lot better!
That night our host cooked a delicious “Frango al Disco,” which is chicken with vegetables made in a large disk placed over a wood fire. Food for the soul!
Feeling stuffed and happy, I slept in the van with the sound of the horses munching on their alfalfa near by.