Friday, October 21, 2011

horsing around...

Everybody knows at least one travel-wanker.  You know the type. They say Barthelona instead of Barcelona. Or yaaawts instead of yachts. Or kwa-soar instead of croissant. Or Paree instead of Paris. All of which are equally annoying. Even worse, they’re the kind of people who act blas√© about travel but make sure that you overhear them say stuff like “I’m so over New York.  Really, I can’t be bothered to stop there unless it’s on my way to ski”. *  These are all reasons why I’m a bit reluctant to tell all about my recent travels. However, I feel it’s my duty to forewarn you about the perils of becoming a horseman.

Our visit to the Gaucho ranch had absolutely nothing to do with my cowboy-fetish or my weakness for farmhands with Spanish accents. We were excited to leave the city and see a bit of the country side  - though having flown over it only a few days before, pretty much knew that it was mostly just pampas, pampas and more pampas as far as the eye could see. I’m sure outdoorsy types would be able to tell me about the wealth of fauna and flora to be found there, but a simple girl like me? I just saw pampas grass.

Upon arrival, ranch-hands promptly plied us with red-wine and a “typical of Argentina” pie called an empanada.  Just as well, because booze before noon goes straight to my legs and I need something (like an empanada) to keep me vertical. Warning No.1: beware of the establishment that serves booze before noon. 

Little did I know, the wine was intended to give us courage for the horse-riding.  It’s no secret that I am no equestrian aficionado. Horses can sense my fear - though why a horse would be nervous of something that’s afraid of them I’ll never know. I mean really, what’s the point? Do they try and out-nervous you?

Due to my lingering in the background (hoping there wouldn’t be enough beasts to go round) I saw (mild panic setting in) that the best horses were already taken.  I was left with a choice between a mini-pony (pampas height) and a very wild looking horse (much, much taller than pampas height.)  Naturally, I chose the wild one. I never found out his real name, but lets call him “Bad Attitude”, or BA for short.

BA was grumpy that he had to stand next to the platform thingy so that I could get on.  He made a lot of sharp head movements and farting noises to express his disgust.  Clearly, he was the gaucho’s favorite and was used to a high level of equestrian excellence and was pissed off at being lumped with a novice rider like me. As BA and I left the corral, the turkeys made a lot of noise and I knew that they knew something about BA that I didn’t. How does that song go? Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry…

He kept pulling at the reigns in a very irritable fashion, strayed (deliberately, I think) from the herd and eventually ended up kicking another horse, who dared follow too closely. He also kept staring at me with mad eyes, which is probably exactly how mine looked to him.

By the end, my nerves were shot.  Big kisser and I almost had an argy-bargy because he rode up next to me and made that kck-kck noise with his mouth, which only encouraged BA’s bad behaviour.

I was never so relieved to touch terra firma.  With my dreams of becoming honorary gaucho-girl in ruins, all I could do was drink a lot of Argentinian beer chased by caffeine infused Yerba Mata (I don’t care what they say, that stuff is lethal.)

In future I shall stick to the tango.  At least I won’t have as far to fall.

* (True comment said by original travel-wanker).

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