The Long Riders' Guild

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Marie Denkens and Renzo Martens  are riding from Salta to Mendoza, Argentina.

April 2003

Marie and Renzo are just about to leave Belgium for Argentina, where they propose to make a Long Ride from Salta to Mendoza. 

"I am 24 years old, and I graduated in archeology and art history, and want to live up to my girls dream, riding horses in vast landscapes before pursuing a career in the arts. Not only is it a girls dream: after having studied and having explored thousands of pages of theory, I need to feel the nature of being alive, and this just may be a way of feeling it. I am a skilled horse-rider, but simultaneously not too afraid of some disillusion and despair within experiences to come. In fact, I seek to surrender to time, however slow or fast it may go," wrote Marie in April 2003 in her original message

The Long Riders' Guild put them in touch with many Long Riders who had experience of riding in South America.  Three weeks later, we received another email from Marie.

"First of all, thank you very much of giving us the opportunity of getting in touch with so many helpful people. The amount of response and support has been incredible.

Finally we've set our date of departure to Buenos Aires. We'll be travelling on 24th June from Brussels, Belgium, where my boyfriend and I live. I am a Belgian citizen, he 's Dutch. Upon arrival, we plan to buy three horses, the rest of the equipment needed, and then travel north. My boyfriend will  be travelling two months with me, from then on I'll be travelling further on alone. My time is unlimited, but I might travel for about 6 months."

We wish this young couple a happy and safe journey down there in Argentina.

8th November 2003

After an extremely long silence, we were very relieved to receive an email from Marie!

"Well of course a lot has happened since I left Salta, my point of departure in Argentina, about 2 months ago... many things are more or less similar to the adventures I can read on your website ´stories from the road´:

- not finding food (the area which I'm passing through is very arid) and

- difficulties finding water every 30 km and the daily stress to get everything organised before night falls

- feudal systems where employees don't dare to make any decision of their own!


But at the same time I have experienced incredible hospitality and help along the route


I had to change my Criollo mare because she didn't feel like making this trip with me which she expressed nicely by almost pulling my arm off.  I had to buy a new riding horse because my former riding horse has got saddle-sores caused by the heat and by not unsaddling frequently enough during the rides...  Now my boyfriend is joining me so I can take my former riding horse with me without saddling him.


We are now travelling with 4 horses and a dog that freely followed me when I started my first day of riding in Salta!  He's really the best companero I could imagine.


About sending photos ...I did bring a camera with me, but since one of my horses rolled on it, it isn't into making pictures anymore... BUT my boyfriend is filming so there will be some material coming your way in a few months .


Now I'm in Malargue, a small town 250km south from Mendoza, heading to Bariloche."


Great to hear from you Marie.

23rd December 2003


Marie has written again to The Long Riders' Guild.  Sadly, her adventure is about to end.


"Coming from really arid places (like La Rioja where I had to cross about 45km [about 30 miles] of salt desert daily just to be sure there would be enough water for the horses) it has been like entering horse heaven here in the south of Neuquen entering Rio Negro. Here, for the first time on my journey, green grass really exists!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm getting more and more emotional about my return to city life as Bariloche, my destination, is only 200km further down south. I will miss my life daily shared with my four horses and my dog and selling them will be a difficult process; people have been telling me that these horses are just regular horses. Well they are not!!!!!! (As you'll notice, I am suffering from severe traumatic pre-emotional stress!)


Renzo and I started out in Salta (the city) together, but he had to leave me because he had an exhibition in Holland. From Cafayata to La Rioja (the city as well) I travelled partly alone and partly shared with an Argentinean horseshoer I met.  From La Rioja Renzo and I continued together. In Mendoza we bought a new horse because my riding horse suffered from saddle-sores... I didn't sell him but took him with me. Renzo has been riding him for a month now, with a new saddle of course, and the horse is doing fantastically well!


It has been beautiful to travel alone but also hard, and travelling together makes it a bit easier.  You can divide the daily tasks like who will do the fishing (for the last fortnight we have been in lake districts with a lot of trout), who makes the fire, sets up the tent, saddles the horses, etc... It was also a lot of responsibility for me as Renzo didn't know how to ride horses before he came to Argentina with me! But now, after living daily with our four horses, Renzo has become an expert on these horses. It is indeed beautiful how you get to know and connect with them so well that you really can anticipate what they are going to do.  You also learn you can rely on them.


It has been a huge change in my life as a city girl to learn to be able to scent and feel earthy life, wearing the same clothes for about a half year, be happy if people invite me to drink maté with them and warm up in their small one-roomed house, not being afraid of the dirt, but also being very happy to sleep once a week in a bed and take a shower...


I'm already feeling weepy at the thought of leaving behind this crossing of windy Pampas into windy Patagonia on horseback."

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