Berny, who still sends me emails 

Only part of the above headline is true, but you have to read on to find out which part

The day started off sunny, but quickly descended into hard rain. Berny had switched me to a faster horse than the pinto I was sitting on (above), and his gait was like riding a jack hammer. We were running at speed to get to Patagonian high country where we would spend two nights, and the rain was cold and pelting. We'd started out that morning from Nibepo Aike, a magnificent horse riding ranch in Perito Moreno, Argentina.

Berny led us through the middle of a herd of cows which parted like the Red Sea. His horse's hooves tossed clods of mud and cow flop all over my brand new Arcteryx jacket, my breeches and my face. There was nowhere to duck. When I opened my mouth to yell, well, you know.

I spat it out and thereafter refrained from opening my fool mouth.

My feet suddenly came out of both stirrups as the leathers got wet and lengthened. I tightened my grip with my legs, and for once in my life, actually held onto the pommel so that I didn't go flying off in the wet slop below.

Berny splitting the herd as we keep up Julia Hubbel

Finally the clouds broke just as we arrived at the high country cabin. My breeches were soaked through even under my chaps. We took the tack off our horses and released them to the corral, then slogged inside.

Our cabin was rustic. This high, with massive glaciars in the distance and snow possible at any time, the main feature of the place was a massive fireplace which dominated the dining room. A bench was attached to a sturdy old table, and two bedrooms gave us privacy off to either end of the place. I took off my gear, stripped off my wet duds and hung them all over the room to dry off, and dressed in my backup clothing.

Berny got to work on the fire, which required that he nearly walk right into the fireplace and stack the wood. It was impressive.

Our huge fireplace Julia Hubbel

Berny's cooking was superb, far better than the very expensive estancia where I had spent $330 a night to get a boiled egg and corn on the cob for dinner. And that was all for dinner, since I am not a steak eater, and Argentinians live for their steak. Let's just say I wasn't impressed. Up here, though, Berny showed off his impressive skills, and we ate like kings.

The next morning we tacked up and headed off to visit the glaciar. In all directions was the promise of snow, and the glaciars fed plenty of streams and our horses danced across in the cool air.

Berni had squeezed fresh orange juice for me for our break as we looked out over the lake at the far mountains. It just does not get any better than that.

Fresh juice and....
the view. both Julia Hubbel

We wandered around by foot and by horse, taking in the cold air and breezes, and enjoying the scenery all to ourselves. By early afternoon, having hiked for a good long time, we were both famished, so we headed back. The clouds were threatening a storm. Already the snowflakes were starting to melt on our faces.  My horse was eager to get back to fodder and the wind on his back so off we went, returning to our cabin for a well-deserved lunch.

Our cabin in Patagonian high country Julia Hubbel

The dining room Julia Hubbel

I sat down with my back to Berny, who was busy cooking lunch. I was engrossed in a paperback (blessedly no signal up that high). I was well into my third chapter when suddenly, there was an explosion of light and smoke. The room filled with an acrid smell, something on fire.

I whirled around, and there was Berny, butt pointing skyward, frying pan on the floor, sputtering oil and flames. The oil was on fire, but so was something else. He was staring at an item burning merrily in the pan.  

What the hell? Julia Hubbel

Intrigued, I joined him. Then guffawed, then laughed harder. He turned towards me quizzically.

"That's my underwear,"I choked out, holding my sides.

He turned red, apologizing profusely.

"NONONONONONONONO," I laughed harder. "You just gave me the best story of this entire trip."
I fished out my poor undies and slapped the fire out.

You could still read the words: HOTOTTIES on the elastic band.

I had hung my undies over the edge of the mantel to dry in the rising heat the day before, and we had both forgotten about them. Apparently when the oil in the frying pan caught fire, that fire also caught my panties, which landed on top of lunch.

Still holding my sides, and through my 62-year-old tears of hilarity, I announced:

"I'm going to tell everyone we had such great sex that you set my underwear on fire!"

It took Berny a moment to translate the English to Spanish, then he burst out laughing. He was, after all, half my age.

I still have them. My favorite souvenir of all time. Julia Hubbel

He still sends me emails, seven years later, asking if he can be my permanent guide.

And I still have the undies, which until recently hung like a trophy off the spear of an antique Myanmar soldier statue. The statue goes, the undies stay.

Because some souvenirs are worth keeping.

Even if we didn't have any sex.