Monday, November 22nd, 2010
I asked Emilio the name of my horse as we moved off from the house.
“Esto,” he said. That one.
Huh? Then I asked for the name of the horse Mel was riding. “El otro,” he said. The other one.
Okay, so Emilio doesn’t name his horses. He has 30 of them; they all live high up in the hills. For us to come riding, we had to give him 48 hours notice so could go collect a few.
Emilio’s a paisano, a country guy. He’s a jovial, toothless 44 year old who lives with his mother in the same valley his family has lived in for four generations.
Mid-ride, we sat around a fire drinking mate and talked turned to our horoscopes.
“Emilio, when’s your birthday?” Mel asked.
“Well I was born September 8, but my birth wasn’t registered until January,” he said. It took his family four months to come in from the hills to get his arrival marked on the official record.
After a four-hour ride through up the river and then straight up to a lookout over rugged Patagonian expanses, we rolled back into the tiny village that Emilio calls home. He began squeeking and squealing, yelling and hollering. They seemed random noises, but they were aimed squarely at his flock. The sheep that roamed the hills on both sides of us are Emilio’s, and he obviously wasn’t happy with their location.
“I have a lot of work to do tomorrow to bring these guys to their place,” he said as we corralled the horses and went indoors for more mate. There was mate upon arrival, mate during the mid-way stopover and mate at the end.
Emilio’s got his own style. He’s a gaucho with the typical scarf, knife in his back belt, tall boots. He’s a mumbler, his accent is a mixture of old school chileno with deep paisano. Frankly, I only understood half he said. Still, I enjoyed every minute with him.