While horseback riding in Argentina, MatadorTV’s Joshywashington goes crazy with his camera.

NINE DAYS INTO a 35-day trip across Argentina, I am bumping down a dirt road in a cab with a bald man named Oscar.

Saintly amulets swing from the rear view mirror. Flocks of wild green parrots erupt from the roadside trees and streak across the road in tight bundles. From Cordoba, I’d bused to Jesus Maria, and from there I hired Oscar to drive me down a seemingly unending dirt road, further and further into a beautiful wild nowhere. A half day in transit to get to 5,000 acres that go by the name Dos Lunas Riding Lodge. Gentle hills, wind-brushed plains, mountains, forest, caves, and valleys, the region surrounding the estancia is some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen.

To Oscar’s relief we finally arrive, and striding towards me from the Dos Lunas kitchen is my guide, Juan Bello. A big man in a blue beret, he shakes my hand and immediately asks me when I’ll be ready to ride. I’ve been at Dos Lunas for less than a half hour when Juan swings open the corral gate and we head out into the sweeping expanse of the ranch.

Note: My accommodation and guide costs were comped for this trip.


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1. Two Mares Waiting calmly in the corral for either riding guests or lunch, whichever comes first. I haven't really been around horses since my summer camp days and I was surprised at the animals' calm and beauty. I stood in the corral of two dozen horses taking pictures and they all regarded me with the same peaceful if not curious expression.


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2. The Ranch Dos Lunas stretches over 5,000 acres in Cordoba province and is one of many ranches in the area. The horses are put out to pasture in shifts, giving them each enough time to rest from ushering guests on their back.


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3. In the Saddle I must say, sitting atop a horse, swaying in the saddle as you climb up a grassy rise, is an incredible feeling. What is it about riding some immense, capable beast that makes you want to eat a giant turkey leg and write poetry?


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4. Juan Bello Juan is second generation horseman and my guide as we ride across the hills that roll toward the horizon. He points to the distant borders of Dos Lunas, answering my question about the visible boundary of the ranch. Juan loves what he does. That was evident from the first handshake. He rides ahead of me at an unhurried pace, answering my questions, stopping when I pause to take photos.


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5. The Land Thousands of horses, cattle, and sheep graze in the hills of Cordoba. Before colonial times, this land was home to indigenous peoples. Now ranches divide up the wild landscape, and from great distances you can spot men herding horses along paths used for hundreds of years.


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6. From a Great Distance I don't know if I would have noticed the herd of horses running along a path far below us if Juan hadn't pointed them out. Red, brown, gray, they galloped on the grass with riders following at an easy distance.


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7. The Walls Stacked stone walls crisscross the land. They were built 500 years ago by enslaved natives. The walls march on across the bare tops of hills, the territories they once demarcated forgotten.


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8. Over Hills Across valleys and through groves, we ride the massive expanse of the ranch. Thistles are everywhere, rocks crunch and chuckle under our hooves, and grasshoppers flee in multitudes of hopping clicks and clacks.


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9. Turning Back As the sun sets we ride back to the lodge, saving ourselves (and my aching butt!) for another day of riding in the morning. In the moments before it descends below the horizon, the sun's light is brighter, clearer, cleaner than I think I have ever seen. The whole world is shown in divine hues of white gold.


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10. Sunset Light falls on a group of grazing horses, casting them in bronze. They graze peacefully and unhurried; there is delicious grass everywhere. A heifer joins them and she isn't too sure about me.


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11. The Angus What can I say, it's a cow. She was chewing real slow while she got a real good look at me.


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12. We Approach The light just gets brighter and brighter. I wonder if Juan thought me strange prancing and prowling the grass, gushing about how awesome the light was.


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13. Golden Grass The high grasses become filaments of spun gold. They swished in a gentle breeze and, if you let your eyes unfocus a bit it looked like the world was burning in a cool white fire.


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14. Contrast Everything is either fire or silhouette. The contents of the world take on either light or dark, gold or black.


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15. Leaving I can't remember if my battery died or I ran out of memory -- either way, the sun set and dinner was ready. Thank you Dos Lunas and Juan Bello for hosting me and showing me a time I will never forget.

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