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Horsing Around in Pucón   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

4 Feb 2002

PUCÓN, CHILE — It started out as a pretty ugly morning. I had another ATM report that it gave me money when it didn't, then had trouble finding the only other one in town. By the time I did all this, I came back to a cold breakfast of pan-scrambled eggs, which I find to be one of the grossest textures a food can possibly have. And after thinking the worst was over, we ended up waiting nearly an hour for our ride to pick us up from our hotel.

But it was the knowledge of where that ride was taking us that kept what little positive spirit we had alive. Today was our chance to hang out with a real caballero, as we went horseback riding through the Pucón Valley.

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Rodolfo Jumps On

A 45-minute ride in the back of a cab took us to the "equestrian center" Huepil-Malal. We were met at the gate by Pancho, a young ranchhand working there for the summer. After a brief bilingual exchange of the usual "How do you do?", "Have you ridden before?", and "Is your insurance fully paid up?", Pancho took the two of us to start getting fitted for our ride. But before we got far, Rodolfo — the owner — came by to assist.

Rodolfo had that look that screamed "rancher" like no other person we'd seen. (Looks like we may have finally found Heather's cowboy.) He greeted us with a hard handshake and a big smile, and immediately went to work asking us where we were from, and what we did, so he could determine how much padding to put on the saddles. Despite being a Chilean-born native, his knowledge of the US was impressive. He even knew who Chief Seattle was — something 80% of the city's own residents couldn't tell you.

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Erin in Spurs

Rodolfo spent several minutes fitting us for our spiffy sheepskin chaps, which were more for the horse's protection than for ours. After spending several more minutes explaining how to put them on, they were actually quite comfortable. (So now I've become a convert — nothing but sheepskin for my chaps once I get home.) Then came the spurs, which looked much better on Erin than myself. (Nothing but spurs for Erin when we get home, too. Yee ha!)

Next, we were introduced to our horses. Underneath me was Pian, a rather spunky horse who seemed to have trouble differentiating between "whoa" and "run like hell". Erin, on the other hand, was paired with the attractive but depressingly bored Pelican, who had trouble remembering that he had something on his back at all. We had a brief little walk-around in the ring, so we could get accustomed to the horses' responsiveness (or lack thereof), while Rodolfo's wife, Carolina, dropped by with their young daughter to watch, and presumably get a good look at our faces in case her beloved husband never returned.

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Last updated: 26 May 2002 19:10:40