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Published: February 25th 2014
After an exhausting 21 hour bus journey we finally arrived in the Northern Argentinian City of Salta. Upon arriving at our hostel, we did the only thing we could manage...sleep. A couple of hours later, feeling a little more refreshed, we strolled into the centre of this historic city to have a look around the main square and admire the colonial architecture the city is famed for. The centre piece of the square is a spectacular cathedral, which was holding a service just as we were strolling past. We poked our heads in to discover an incredibley opulent interior covered in gold. Just as we were leaving, a local lady approached us asking if we were catholic; as we were standing in a Catholic Church Rich felt obliged to say yes and the woman gave us both rosary beads and kissed us on both cheeks, uttered something in Spanish, smiled and was on her way again. A. Quick loop round the city centre and we headed back to our hostel, chilled out, had dinner and were off to bed.
Having spent a good few weeks in Argentina already, it was only a matter of time before we donned our chaps,
saddled up and rode off into the mountains in true Gaucho style. Today was the day; picked up at 8am, it was an hours drive out to the ranch. Upon arrival we were greeted with breakfast and could already see our horses being prepared for us. Breakfast eaten, chaps on and we were ready to meet our ride for the day. Not too longer after, off we set on the two most obedient horses we had ever encountered. Having said that, they certainly weren't plodders who walk in single file. The tiniest nudge of the heal or pull of the reigns and they were off. Throughout the morning we crossed rivers, passed local communities, numerous tobacco plantations and admired the amazing scenery. Just before we headed back for lunch we were given the opportunity to have a gallop (with a little assistance). One by one, we took it in turns to gallop along a flat area of grass guided by one of the Gauchos on a separate horse. Smiling ear to ear, feeling like real gauchos and even topped off with a little 'yeeha', it was a brilliant way to finish the morning.
All that riding had left us
both craving a good lunch. With the promise of a BBQ and salad we were pretty excited to see what was going to be on offer. What we were presented with can only be described as heaven on earth; whole BBQ fillet steaks, sausages, potatoes and five different but equally amazing salads and not to forget the unlimited local red wine. We sat around a long banquet like table with the other guests, ranch owner and other workers. And enjoyed this amazing lunch with the horses only a few meters away. With such a beautiful sunny morning, the heavens suddenly opened and the correlated tin roof above us was bombarded by huge rain drops which rattled the roof so hard that you could hardly hear anyone speak. Hoping for the worst of the weather to pass, we sat back and continued to drink the red wine and even tried a mate (a traditional Argentinian type of tea drunk out of a special cup and straw). Eventually the worst of the weather passed and we set off for our afternoon trek.
With the roads now transformed into rivers and the once dry river beds now running fast, it was a
stark contrast to the dry, sunny conditions we had earlier in the day. Feeling a little tipsy from one too many vinos at lunch, our confidence was up and we were both out in front trotting along desperate to break into a canter. With the gauchos giving us a lot of free reign, we pushed it as far as we dared...until we pushed it a little too far and one of the gauchos would come galloping up from behind to slow us down. A couple of hours later and we were back at the ranch and saying goodbye to the horses we had become so attached to over the short period.
Back to our hostel, it was time to get packed up and ready for our early departure the next day. It was going to be a goodbye to the wet weather of Salta and hello to the driest place on earth. Next stop San Pedro De Atacama.
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