Friday, February 29, 2008

The Rodeo at Villa Llanquin.

You wouldn´t guess it was only half an hour downstream from the chocolate shops and kitesurfing spots of Bariloche.

Firstly, you have to cross the river. Two cars at a time (or one car and several horses) go on a small wooden raft (they call it a balsa here and the wood isn't so different). Next, a guy with very large biceps pulls it across the water on a steel cable. By hand. Then, you follow the river out of the village, looking for the stands of lombardy poplars, imported from France, that mark any important site; in this case, the corral.

Dust swirls and the poplars bend in supplication to winds that beat across the steppe. Maté, beer and box wine are drunk to excess, barbaques are set up in car boots, horses run amok, and the famous Uruguayo singer surveys the scene, and improvises his commentary accordingly.

As the only foreigner present I am dubiously honoured with an improvised song about the Falklands. Apparently they don't belong to the English Crown.

And the rodeo runs on, 'til the horses are spent and the sun deflates into the western rim of the valley, setting its sandstone towers aflame, and the guy with the biceps cantilevers hundreds of Ford Falcons, Renault 4s and Citroen Amis back across the gin clear waters of the Limay.

(All images Dominic Hall. Click image for full size view)