Musical Monday: El Huaso


The Soundtrack of My Mind

El Huaso

(Soundtrack: Bolero by Maurice Ravel)

Awaking at dawn, El Huaso ate the small breakfast he carried in his pack, and prepared to ride out.  He rolled up the thick pad of blankets he used as a bed and gathered his few belongings.  He’d spent the night alone under the night sky, tasting the bitter cold with every breath, but he was used to that.  He’d lived most of his life out here.
In days long past, El Huaso’s father Neyen roamed the pampas and into the Andes to the west, traveling with a small band of banditos.   They raided the rancheros created by the conquistadors, and stole their cattle, gold, and often, their women.  El Huaso’s mother Pilar was one of those women.  She was the daughter of one of the ranchers visited by Neyen and his band.  Longing for adventure, she had been more than willing to leave her protected life on the ranchero and follow the handsome bandito who had crept into her bedroom by moonlight.  Not long after after, El Huaso was born in the camp the ragtag bunch of banditos and their women called home.  El Huaso never knew his father well.  Neyen was killed in the Andes when El Huaso was a small child and Pilar returned to her father’s hacienda, where she raised her son.
Though the pampas was in his blood, El Huaso had not totally followed in his father’s footstep.  Like his father, he too traveled the pampas on horseback, but his time was spent recovering cattle for the descendants of the very ranchers his father had robbed.  This was seldom an easy job, given the vast sameness of the pampas, and it was sometimes hazardous.  So, like the banditos, he too carried the long white-handled knife of the huaso in his belt, but the only victims he had claimed were snakes. 
On this journey, after what had seemed like endless searching, he’d finally located the wandering cows he sought and returned them to their owner. The weather had been harsh and his task had taken much too long.  Now he was anxious to go home and see his wife and family. 
This morning, the pampas was shrouded in the dense early fog called la camanchaca.  The sun was barely over the horizon and had not yet become strong enough to send the fog on its way.  But El Huaso could wait no longer.  It was time to go.  He had many hours to ride over this endless plain before reaching home.  He just wished he could roll up the fog as easily as he had his bedding.
He whistled to Vaquero, and the big horse came to him from out of the mist.  Descended from the powerful Criollo horses that the Spaniards had introduced to the region, Vaquero moved over this unforgiving land like the native he was.  He knew the pampas, and he knew the way home.  El Huaso knew he could trust Vaquero to carry him safely.
He tied his bedroll to the horse’s back, put on his poncho, shrugged the pack onto his back, and donned his hat.  He swung onto the waiting horse, and, with a click of his tongue, he and Vaquero disappeared into the fog and headed home.


  1. I love Bolero. Your story was wonderful, images I rarely get to read about.

    Microfiction Monday

  2. I always, always, always write to music. It helps me establish my mood - and the mood of whatever it is I'm working on.

    This, by the way, is a lovely piece. So much said, in so few words.

  3. Vaquero... ah, brought back the smell of saddle leather and the creak of cinch straps against the saddle blanket. Beautiful.

    I miss my horse.


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