and the last forgotten post. written six months ago…
since the beginning of our relationship, i have heard about the alpaca farm ryan’s friend had in southern chile. how he had lived there for a few months and helped with the alpaca and the fly fishing lodge. how it was the most beautiful place on earth. how he would muster horses through creeks and mountains. how lucky…
five years later, i am also lucky to experience el saltamontes lodge. the gorroño family’s property in the aysén region of southern chile (about an hour from coyhuique) is stunning. a picture perfect mountain getaway. i am so grateful that we could include a visit to the farm/lodge a part of this trip.
ryan’s friend and his girlfriend drove five hours to scoop us up from argentina and drive us five hours back to his farm in chile. we went through the border crossing (a small shack on a dirt road with one guard) with ease and continued on our way into our third country on this whirlwind world tour.
as we left the high desert of argentina and continued towards the coast, the mountains grew taller and the temperature grew colder, but the sun was still shining bright (apparently not the norm in this area). the barren roads surrounded by nature started to be spotted with tiny farms and adorable mountain homes. my understanding of spanish lessened as the chilean accent strengthened.
and then, we arrived. ryan jumped out to open gate after gate as we slowly drove by cows and horses and alpaca. a hidden gem. ryan’s stories were right. this was a pretty spectacular slice of this wonderful world. the mountains all around. crystal clear rivers and lakes. 5,000 acres of beauty to explore.
it was christmas eve, and the rest of lucas’ family and friends greeted us with open arms. they had not seen ryan in ten years. two friends from south africa were down from santiago. they had cooked one of their home dishes, bobotie. we set the table and basked in the christmas cheer, and red wine.
after dinner, we sat by the fire and opened a few gifts. ryan and i were graciously given a chilean staple, boinas. the hat necessary for true gauchos. we were ready to wrangle the horses!
since the fly fishing season started a bit late this year due to the river, our hosts set us up in a phenomenal riverside lodge with giant windows and quite the view. sure, we’ll test it out for you before this year’s guests arrive… a little bit of an upgrade from the sleeping pads we had been on the past few nights.
on christmas day, we slept in late. we are really getting used to the south american way… stay up really late, sleep in kind of late. we walked back to the main house breathing in the clear air and feeling the sunshine upon our skin. i’m starting to get used to this whole christmas in summer thing.
cafe and desayuno. slowly we came to life. helping prep the lodge for a christmas dinner with other friends and extended family. and then, taking a break from our chores to enjoy a little christmas day trail ride.
i grew up around horses. my mom rode horses. my sister rode horses. i rode horses. we love horses.
i was so excited to be back in the saddle. back around these majestic creatures. their gentle gazes and soft noses. horses feel like home. the smells. the sounds. the connection.
the lead gaucho saddled up a few of the favorites, and we climbed aboard. my horse was a short white one named pelusa. she was the mother of many other horses on the land, and her belly definitely still showed it.
we walked through the afternoon without a care in the world. this is exactly how i want to spend every christmas. horseback riding through patagonia in the sunshine. i wished my mom and sister could have been there by my side. i knew they would have loved it.
throughout the ride, i kept feeling the saddle sliding to the right, so i would stand up and put weight in the left stirrup to bring it back into balance. exhibit a…
there was a little voice in my head saying that i should probably stop and tighten the girth, but i ignored it. i was sure we’d stop eventually, and we were just on a leisurely stroll at the moment.
and then the stroll turned into a gallop.
and then the saddle slipped to the right.
and then the saddle slipped even more to the right.
and then i opened my eyes in the fetal position on the ground…
you should always listen to the little voices in your head.
my head and tailbone smacked the ground and poor pelusa went galloping away with a sideways saddle. as a trained lifeguard, my head was filled with flashes of “what to do if you suspect a spinal injury.” i laid curled up on the grass afraid to try to move. would i be able to move? of course i would, i thought. i am fine.
and slowly, slowly, i was fine.
lucas called his dad, and he came to my rescue. after a quick utv ride back to our cabin, i crawled into bed and was even more grateful for the million dollar view from our windows. this is where i would spend the rest of christmas.
i googled how to treat a broken bum and after learning that all i could really do is ice it, heat it, and rest it. i settled into a pattern of ice pack and hot tub. trying to not miss a thing!
there was no way in hell i was going to let a fall off one of my favorite animals ruin my time in this magical place.
the next day, i hobbled my way through a picnic with everyone by the river. i had to take the truck with the baby instead of the boat, but i still made it!
and the day after that, i hobbled my way through a boat ride on lago norte and lunch in a glass house in the middle of nowhere.
every new place lucas took us to was better than the last. whenever i need to escape the world, i know where to go now.
after a few days exploring el saltamontes lodge (and letting my tailbone heal), we drove an hour into coyhuique. the town was a lot bigger than i had expected.
we filled our bellies at the cafe run by the mennonites in the area. french toast, eggs, and coffee. we walked through the market stalls in the main plaza. we browsed sporting goods stores. we went grocery shopping. we ran errands. we soaked in the “city life”.
we were leaving the next day.
lucas made sure ryan got one more dose of adventure as they went mountain biking through a local nature reserve. up, up, up and then down, down, down. i’m not sure i would have made it even without a broken bum, so i’m glad i had an excuse to exclude myself this time around.
we went out to pizza and drinks in town with some friends. our last night in chile. such an amazing time catching up with lucas and sinja, and meeting new friends.
thank you gorroño family and friends for sharing this landscape with us (and taking care of me).
we fly 9 hours to atlanta. 2 hours to detroit. 13 hours to tokyo.
hopefully my tailbone can handle all the sitting. not quite the souvenir i had hoped to bring back from south america, but oh well. it could have been worse. 🙂