Interview with Patagonian Founding Father Descendant, Carol Jones
May 4th, 2009. Written by Shanie.
If learning about the culture and history of your travel destination is important to you, then partaking in a guided horseback trip with Carol Jones is going to be an unforgettable experience. A person that exudes a warm and caring persona right off the bat, Carol has the makings for an excellent guide. First, her knowledge of the area is in her blood. She is the granddaughter of United States Patagonian founding father, Jarred Jones. A character that ran with the likes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Grandpa Jones was the beginning of generations of familial bonding with the Patagonian Steppe. Second, the woman knows the area like the back of her hand. She is able to take her guests on amazing adventures into areas that are only seen by her and those she has invited. Her intimacy is immediately apparent in how she flows with the changing topography and chooses a place to rest. Third, as a part of the trip, she and her ranch hands provide a truly authentic “gaucho experience”. You are able to tour her family’s farm, interact with the animals and get involved with the Argentine asado (BBQ), if you like. Carol takes clients on multi-, full- and half-day trips. She is very adept at reading your abilities and level of comfort upon the horse and directs the day to fit the vibe accordingly. Experiencing Patagonia on horseback with Carol is an amazing adventure of animal interaction, historical stories and authentic culture. Carol took the time to sit down and talk about her life, Patagonia and what a guided trip is all about. This is what she had to say:
SM: What brought you to wanting to guide originally?
Carol: I never planned it really. It has been my way of life through having lots of friends on the ranch and my mother helping me to realize that I could do it as a job. My father was the one that lent me my first horses.
SM: You have spent your entire life with horses, do you think there is a special quality about the animals that allows them to bond well with people?
Carol: Yes, I started riding when I was five or six. Then I used to go with the gauchos when they had to do the work. Moving cows, sheep, repairing fences to remote areas, etc. always with horses. I do not have much experience with other breeds, but I would say that the Criollo horse, the Quarter horse and the Noruegean Fiord go well with people. I am sure the Percherones, the big calm horses do a great job as well. But I do not have much experience with the Peruanos. Arab horses, I think, are a one-person type of horse.
SM: What does one of your multi-day trips entail?
Carol: We get up at seven in the morning, make a good breakfast, saddle up the horses and ride for three or four hours. Then a good lunch, a short siesta of a half hour, saddle again and ride for two or three hours. Then build a cozy camp with tents, get dinner ready and by 10:30, more or less, to bed. Every day goes pretty much like this, depending on the weather, riders, how many days, the horses, the pack horses, etc.
SM: What aspects go into being a good guide?
Carol: When you are the guide, you need to know the area, know how to pack a pack horse, how to saddle them, of course. You need to know where is the water, the wood, the grass for the horses. And always being aware of checking saddles and seeing that everybody is fine are extremely important too. Knowing how to build a fire is vital, not to mention how to put it out well. You need to have common sense for any situation, things can happen with horses and people. A great guide knows how to make the best decisions for the group to secure a spectacular trip overall.
SM: Do you have a favorite memory from a guiding trip?
Carol: I have so many great memories but some that stick out have to do with storms, with rain, snow etc. One story shines because we had people in the group who could play the guitar. I always have a special fondness to the memories created out of discovering new trails.
SM: What type of horses do you ride?
Carol: I do most of my rides with Criollos. I also have a Thoroughbred, one Fiord, one half-Fiord and two Frisones.
SM: What do you suggest to those thinking of going on a guided horse trip?
Carol: I would suggest to come with an open mind, not only to ride, ride, ride like crazy, but also to be open to spending time with the horse — studying them when they are riding, resting, eating. The nice thing about our rides is that we have time to take in the experience. The time to be with the horses — understanding the riding or when they are eating, finding the best places for them, moving them if it is necessary. etc.
SM: What is your favorite part about working with horses?
Carol: I like to be with them, to saddle them, to move with them. And when I ride, to study them — how they choose trails, how they go on difficult trails, when they hear something what they do, there is always lots of things to learn from them. They are always right. If something wrong happens it is due to humans making the wrong choice and not being observant of what the horse is telling us, always.
SM: How has your family history helped you to create your guide service?
Carol: My family’s history has helped me because we have a good reputation throughout the entire area. Specifically my grandfather, and father, as well. My grandfather was always very good with horses. He was a super cowboy! He and my father were very nice, respectful and considerate people.
SM: Do you have any advice for travelers coming to Bariloche?
Carol: My advice to them would be to stay longer than three days. And whatever their wish is to do, to look for it because there are a lot of options. Just keep asking and insist for what you want and what you like. We Argentines are very accommodating people.