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horses in my dreams


In Mendoza, as the year turns, I imbibe a certain dissatisfaction that I’m not sure I really feel.

Mendoza, in the grip of a savage heat wave, is full of cyclists and everyone is complaining about the soaring temperatures, the dust, the desert. Conversations revolve around plans to cross the Andes into Chile at the first available opportunity to escape the aridity of northern Argentina into a vividly imagined lush green forest wonderland. Talk even encompasses the possibly of going all the way to the ocean. Nobody, it seems, has seen the sea since arriving in South America in Colombia and the idea takes on a wistful nostalgic lustre. Carried along on the wave of discontent, I join in the discussions on the merits and disadvantages of various passes and form my own plan to cross into Chile but deep inside I know I really love the desert.

Sunset in the desert. Dust and heat.

This road goes all the way to Ushuaia - only 3118 kilometres to go.

In the middle of nowhere - not a village or shop to be seen in two days ride - but never fear, signal is here.

It's a subtle landscape - no real drama but it has a certain hypnotic beauty...

... and sense of mystery.



Turning towards the Andes, I follow the river up a valley to Las Loicas where the ways diverges and there is a choice of two passes over the Andes.

I take the route less travelled which winds a couple of hundred kilometres up...

... an uninhabited canyon valley...

... dominated by a fast moving glacier fed river.

Disturbing road kill: as I came around the corner my first horrified thought is that this horse is still alive and struggling to rise - what on earth should I do? - but it is dead.

The terrain is still dry and deserty but plenty of streams descend from above. No need to carry litres and litres of water here - there are plenty of opportunities to replenish my water bottles as needed and find a campsite with running water at the end of the day.


In places water emerges directly out of the desolate hillside.

Clear spring water joins the turbid glacial slurry.

At an derelict hot spring resort high in the mountains, I meet a group of five Argentinian cyclists on a twelve day tour, from Las Loicas to the Pacific coast and back,...

...on heavily burdened bikes.

At the Argentinian border post, as I approach the pass I share camp with a group on a horse tour.

Horses in my dreams:-- I have an abiding dream of galloping across the pampas on horseback. The horses in these parts are fine specimens, especially after the sorry beasts of burden I encountered further to the north in Bolivia and Peru, and apparently you can buy one for between $200 - $300. Cheaper than a fat bike, that's for sure. Saddle, bridle, boots. Poncho. Hat. Good to go. Hum. Food for thought.

Up. Up. Then down the other side.

It's all kind of dreamy,...

... apart from another nightmarish horse image.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. TJC | February 8, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Stunningly beautiful images, anna. Death is also stunning. Horses should never die, but they do. I once was a one who knew about horseflesh, the saddling and the combing and the feeding and the shoveling…bicycles are simpler; they are mute and their personalities are subdued and mute but a horse…well, that is a relationship that will get you close to heaven and then break your heart worse than it has ever been hurt before.

    When young, I served as steward to a Hollywood horse boarding place and my duties involved much shoveling and combing and I was paid to ride stabled horses to keep them broke (docile) and I was a horse; the horses knew me as the boss horse and I spent all of everyday doing horse stuff.

    A bicycle is not a horse, although we cyclists like to draw that comparison; a horse will get you home when you are too drunk to stand. A horse will grieve for you, a horse will piss you off and be your best friend within the space of a minute…

    Sorry. Those images took me back to a young time in Southern California when it was about horses, before the sailboats and before the bicycles.

    A horse, like dreams and hope, should never die. And yet…


  2. anna | February 8, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    tj, you’re right of course. A bicycle is not a horse and never will be. Not even close. I once knew things about horses, too. When young. (But I was never a horse myself. I was too young, perhaps, just a foal.)

    The horse I rode the most was not the heart-breaking kind. We were both wild and uncouth, hard mouthed, hard headed and bitchy.

    BTW: If I ever make it to Florida, do you think you could teach me to sail? (Not that either of us has a boat, I’ll warrant.) I have sailing dreams, too.

  3. Michael v | February 9, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    A soundtrack to your travels. The desert looks amazing.

  4. anna | February 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michael, nice to have you drop by for a visit. I knew it was the title of a song but I couldn’t remember whose song it was! Thanks for providing the missing information.

  5. julie begg | March 3, 2014 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    The dead horse image was a shock. I too love horses as you know and I even rode one again just the other day. STeve and Anne and Lily and Hugo have the most beautiful little 14 h dark bay horse called Sky who sports a white crescent moon on his forehead and flush of stars on his back so he is aptly named. He has the nicest temperament and is lovely to look at in movement. We have all ridden him but to ride out in the bush, everyone has to ride on bikes to keep him company because they haven’t been able to match him with a mate yet. I’ll send a photo.

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