Not having had too much experience with international travel outside of bi-monthly weekends in London six years ago, I forgot all about the time it takes to get through passport control and then customs. In the 90 minutes after landing in Buenos Aires, I, in my own mind, had recreated a new system that bypassed the dual check points, creating efficiency where there was none, and cutting down on time,effort, and payroll, before I remembered I was supposed to be on vacation.
Finally through the duplicitous checkpoints, I was met at the gate by my great friend from NYC, Rachel, and her adorable almost 3-year old twins, Max and Emma. Max and Emma were insistent upon me coming home with them, and I let them think the whole thing was their idea, naturally. “You comin,’ Mommy’s friend? You comin’?”
Forty-five minutes later, I arrived at Rancho Pampa, Rachel and Martin’s horse farm and training facility that I’ve only ever seen on Facebook. I was accosted immediately by five dogs, two of them the cutest and most precocious puppies. With the neighing of horses in greeting, needless to say I was in heaven. They probably were just hoping I had snacks, but I like to think they were saying: “Buenos dias, new friend! My ears need a good scratching, if you feel so inclined!”
One of the most detestable jobs at the barn is of course my favorite – feeding the horses at night for their last feeding. Granted, I would hate to do this every night at 9pm, but it brought me back to my 13 year old days when I was responsible for the gastro-intestinal tracts of over 60 horses. Although, I don’t miss the hay getting stuck in my bra. You feel it for days.
And now I write with a cat next to me – the only cat I’ve ever met who loves belly rubs. This place is an animal anomaly of peace and calm.
Scratch that – Max and Emma decided to wake me up daily by jumping on my head. Probably the most trusted alarm clock I’ve ever had, I’m obviously going to have to hire some three year-olds when I get back to San Francisco to do just that. It must include riding my spine like a bucking bronco for the full effect.
My week stay in Buenos Aires was the perfect combination of city life (I did the tourist city bus thing) and farm life. I rode a horse named Picaro, and was thrilled, despite knowing that my thighs would be screaming at me the following few days. We had a nice 30 minutes workout – he in much better shape than me. As I was walking him out and watching the local gaucho wrangle his stallion a few feet from me (who needs cable?), I was suddenly feeling myself being lowered. Yes, my numbnut horse decided it was time to lie down. While I was on him. And then roll on his side with me underneath him. I’m on a horse for the first time in a few years, and I killed him.
Almost. I rolled off, got my leg secure from under his body, and after a few failed attempts, I got him to his feet, where he looked dazed and as shocked as I was. Nice work, Picaro. Scarred for life, big guy.
My favorite gent was Broadway – he had incredible personality and would get vocal when I paid attention to his neighbors, and not him. He stamped and nickered for me to come back and would slant his neck while I scratched his ears and try to catch my t-shirt in between his lips. He thought this hilarious.
One of the greatest gifts on this trip was meeting the people in Rachel and Martin’s lives: Martin’s mom in her gorgeous apartment, with her painting hanging and surrounded by this view:
…a boat trip on Martin’s dad’s boat, to see another area of Argentina named Tigre…
a night out with the infamous Philippe….
…a night in for dinner right in the barn with Martin’s students and friends. I’ve never had wine while inside a barn before, surrounded by horses and dogs and friends.
Outside of that, the only person I really ‘spoke’ to was Lynn, a middle-aged woman I battle on Words with Friends. You’re going down, Lynn. All the way from South America. I detest your constant play of “Xi.”
Too many great memories to mention, and everyday to begin again when I was awoken with a knee to the ear drum by Max. “You sleepin, Eiween?”
No. No I am not.
Next stop, Nicaragua!