A word about horseback-riding. It’s not as easy as it looks. At least not in Ecuador. When Ang and Jared, a pretty amazing Australian couple we met at the hostel we stayed at in Chugchilan, told us about their equine adventure through the mountainous countryside earlier in the day, I immediately wanted to follow their lead. So, the day after Mark and I did our mammoth hike from the Quilotoa crater, I thought it’d be an excellent idea to give it a go on my own as Mark wasn’t feeling well. As some of you who have known me for a long time know, I’m not the most athletic person on the books—and that extends to riding horses. But I didn’t quite figure that out until half-way through the five-hour excursion. Here’s the story . . .
When my guide and I left for the morning, I was rearing to go. Although I hadn’t ridden a horse in over ten years, I was pretty confident I could get the hang of it fairly quickly. For a while, it seemed as though I was right. My horse Isabella trotted along while I gaped in awe at the scenery. Huge swaths of farmland covering the vast countryside. Peaks of gigantic rolling mountains dotting the sky. Cows, bulls, llamas, horses, sheep, and pigs grazing happily. Peaceful. Serene. But by about halfway into the second hour of riding, I was beginning to feel a bit . . . tingly. Luckily, we had ridden pretty much as far as we could go, to one of the highest spots throughout the region—a field covered with wildflowers and tall grass abutting the clouds. My oh so observant guide had an inkling that I must’ve been feeling a bit tired because we stopped for a bit to chat and take photos of . . . well . . . me.
When I was feeling up to it, we continued on to our next destination: a a tiny village surrounded by farms, with a small church, a school, one store, a soccer field, and a cheese-making cooperative started by a Swiss NGO in the 70s but now run by locals that manufactured some of the tastiest cheese I’ve had the pleasure of sampling in a while. A brief tour of the two-room factory turned out to be an interesting comparison to how cheese is made in the States. The equipment is much simpler, as you might imagine, and much of the squeezing, draining, churning is done by hand. However, the final product is just as tasty as a cheese you might find in, say, Vermont. My favorite was the mozzarella. A bit saltier and squeakier than what we’re used to, and a bit more firm.
After the cheese factory, we began our journey back home. When I say that the ride became hilariously painful, I am not exaggerating. For one, I hadn’t eaten a thing since 7:30 aside from that bite of cheese. I also have a feeling that we were running overtime on our lovely tour (thanks to Slowpoke Sally), because my guide picked up the pace a bit. Make that a lot. What started out as Isabella’s wee trot became her full-on gallop for most of our downhill trek. With every flail of my arms to keep my balance and slap of my ass on the saddle, I let out a little “Ooo! Ooo!” until, finally, my guide had to ask if I was actually OK. When we eventually made it home a few hours later, the bottom half of my body was virtually broken. I had to actually be lifted off the horse. Pretty awesome, I know.
But was it worth it? Hell, yeah. Of course, I can’t move my legs at all today, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy every bit of that ride. I think it might be wise, however, to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground for the next few months . . .
perhaps if you had continued with field hockey, you might have managed better.
this was really funny. You had Aunt Lynne laughing hysterically.
Honestly, I don’t know if I could have found that funny…………….and
you did say it took HOURS to return home!!!
You’re a good sport…..
rest up, love mom w.
There’s an exact comparison to Red Sox Fantasy Baseball Camp, where I discovered that the sport of baseball had somehow over the years changed its physical demands!
Hi Guys – Sounds wonderful – of all the time I spent in Equador, I did not do the Quilatoa Loop but it is on my future list. I did climb nearby Cotopaxi Volcano. In general, I did not find good cheese in Equador. Mostly queso blanco which is dry and salty -YUK ! You guys are doing a great thing by your travel. You are enriched and will carry the images of the planet throughout your life. Harold (JBS) Schwartz