Journey America Part 2

Road to Bahia Blanca

After a day’s rest in Tres Arroyos I began my final trek before the holidays.
It was a 3 day ride that once again left me feeling like I was riding in a wind tunnel. The first night I rode 30 kms to a feed lot. The owner welcomed me and allowed me to pitch my tent next to the horses corral. After he left I spent the late afternoon chatting with his worker. A thin man in his mid 30’s, he told me about how he almost died a few years back.
“I was working at a farm and a wild fire began burning all of our fields. I went out in a tractor to try to put out the fire but got caught up in the flames with the machine,” he told me as I listened intently.
He got out of the tractor and began running trying to find a way out. He said he doesn’t remember anything else, he passed out from the heavy smoke.
“Apparently I fainted in the tall grass and when my friends came looking for me they didn’t see me and ran me over with the truck,” he said showing me scars on his chest, shoulders and arms.
It took the worker 1 year to be able to walk again and he considers himself extremely lucky to be alive.
“This experience made me realize how important it is to enjoy our life. Before the accident all I did was work, I hardly saw my family. Now I make sure I am always with them and only work enough to make a living,” he said.
The next day saw me ride a hard 40 kms to my next resting point. In the way was a long bridge with trucks roaring over it nonstop. I stopped before the bridge and analyzed how I would get over this obstacle safely. Riding Picasso, the crazy criollo, it didn’t seem possible. Luckily, the owner of the feedlot was driving by while I sat pondering and offered to help.
“I’ll drive behind you with my four ways on,” he said.
We took the panniers off of Sapo’s back and I trotted the ponies across the long bridge while my new friend escorted me.
In the afternoon, following a small dirt road next to train tracks, I came across a baby armadillo. This area of Argentina is crawling with these cute animals! Everyday I would see one or two. And when they hear the horses coming, they go into a little ball and hide their heads in their shell. It’s so funny, they are clearly still visible, but feel like they have entered invisible mode. I stopped, got off Picasso, and grabbed the little Armadillo. It was so cute I just wanted to take it with me. It’s little face and ears. Hard shell. Tiny feet. I snapped some photos of my new friend and let him go.
That night I arrived at a small farm and was welcomed by a sweet elderly gentleman and his son. We drank mate and chatted the afternoon away while the horses filled up their bellies around the house. He showed me his 1960’s tractor and told me about how much the world has changed.
“What we used to do in a  day a new tractor does in an hour,” he told me running his fingers through his old machine.
The following afternoon, after a stressful ride through Bahia Blanca, a major city in the province of Buenos Aires, we finally arrived in the rodeo grounds where the ponies would rest over Christmas. I patted the boys and thanked them for their hard work this first month on the road.
“Now you boys get to rest for a few days,” I said to them feeling excited to rest.