EXPLORING ARGENTINA ON HORSEBACK
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
On A Hoof and A Prayer - Exploring Argentina at a Gallop
(Delta) ISBN 978-0385341103 0385341105
Polly Evans travels to Argentina to learn how to ride horses with gauchos (workers or cowboys) in estancias (ranch estates) on the pampas and in the Andes.
Her Argentina trip begins in Buenos Aires and continues by bus and plane to Cordoba, Rio Ceballos, Tucuman, Cafayate, Cachi, Salta and Tilcara in northern Argentina. She then travels through Mendoza wine country, back to Buenos Aires, then to Iguazu Falls and Posadas.
On her trip to Southern Argentina and Patagonia, Polly Evans visits San Martin de los Andes, Bariloche, Puerto Madryn, Gaiman, El Calafate, Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park.
On A Hoof and A Prayer — Exploring Argentina at a Gallop is easy to read. Descriptions and conversations educate and engross armchair travelers. For example, Polly Evans talks with an old passenger on a local bus to Cachi, through the spectacular mountain scenery of Cuesta del Obispo. He shares a maté (strong, green tea, sipped through a silver straw in a gourd) with her as they speak in Spanish (Argentinean Spanish is like Castilian, with no lisp). She then describes the history of the Diaguita people in the Calchaqui valleys, when the Spanish ruled in the 1630s.
Polly Evans describes the attractions of Argentina, from gaucho-led horseback rides into the countryside, to emotionally moving tangos in Buenos Aires. At Perito Moreno Glacier, she explains why glacier ice is blue. (Glacier ice is compacted by snow and downhill gravity, so only blue light can penetrate it.)
On A Hoof and A Prayer — Exploring Argentina at a Gallop has a black and white photo of Polly Evans with a horse in Argentina, on the first page, followed by a photo of horses galloping on the pampas. A simple map of Argentina shows the locations of the cities and towns she visited.
Polly Evans' descriptions of spacious pampas with fine flowing grasses and snow-capped mountain ridges on the horizon, make you want to go horseback riding in Argentina.
Because she traveled through Argentina as a novice horseback rider, she convinces you that you can ride horses on Argentine estancias, even if you do not have equestrian experience.
In On A Hoof and A Prayer - Exploring Argentina at a Gallop, Polly Evans learns about the gaucho lifestyle, the politics of Evita Peron, dancing the tango, her Welsh roots in Patagonia and wine tasting in Mendoza.
Polly Evans describes Iguazu Falls with wit and accuracy: "The water roared and crashed; it seethed and churned. It hammered, buffeted, and trounced. These falls are bigger than Niagara's. On average, the water flows here at a deafening 1.8 million liters (or about 500,000 gallons) per second. An ordinary bathroom shower runs at about 0.1 liters per second — which meant that the water careering off these cliffs in front of me was equivalent to eighteen million people taking a shower all at once. That's roughly the same as the entire population of Australia taking a shower all together, on this very precipice."
Polly Evans is the author of five travel books.