Daniel's uncle Roberto owns several horses, and he invited me to go riding this past weekend. I was quite excited since I love to ride, and I hadn't been on horseback since January. Roberto and Daniel's cousin Mery came by around 10am to take me to the farm in Quequén where the horses are stabled. After saddling up our mounts, Roberto, Mery, and I set out with two other pint-sized riders named Franco and Juan Cruz. Destination: Costa Bonita.
As we left the farm, we crossed over the highway and made our way down a lonely gravel road. The scenery at this point was rather dull, so we passed the first few minutes of the ride chatting about the horses. Once everyone had limbered up, we moved at a quicker pace and soon we were intermittently cantering and galloping, taking advantage of the fact that there wasn't a soul around.
Only 30 minutes or so into the ride, my horse Pancho suffered a severe wardrobe malfunction, which left me with an intimate knowledge of the ground and an opportunity to contemplate the wispy clouds up above. I was just coming off of an exhilarating gallop and I had slowed Pancho to a trot when I felt the saddle slip suddenly to the left; the metal clasp of the cinch, the long strap that secures the saddle to the horse, had broken and come undone. I let go of the reins so as not to yank the horse's head, and I tried to fall in a controlled manner as gravity had its way with me. As luck would have it, my left foot got caught in the stirrup, but thankfully Pancho stopped immediately when I fell or I would have been dragged along beside him.
I landed squarely on my left side with an enormous thud that knocked the wind out of me. My companions all rushed to my side, bombarding me with questions and examining the cinch dangling at Pancho's side. I lay there on the ground for a couple of minutes to catch my breath, and then I stood up to assess the damage. My rump and lower back hurt like hell from the impact, but nothing was broken, not even my camera, which thankfully I'd slung over my right shoulder.
[Side note: I'm beginning to think that Sunday afternoon plans involving the village of Costa Bonita are cursed. Do you remember this adventure from a few months ago?]
Roberto managed to jury-rig the cinch, and I gamely climbed aboard Pancho once again, reassuring my companions (and myself) that I could continue. Our band of five turned off the gravel road and onto a dirt path, passing by fields of recently planted wheat with its bright green stems waving in the wind. We then made our way down the curving, dusty lane to Costa Bonita, opting to detour the last stretch of road in favor of a more picturesque route.
We ambled across the undulating hills formed by sand dunes fixed in place by grass and other vegetation. At one point we crested a dune that provided a vista of the ocean in the near distance, and we gazed all around us at the peaks and valleys of smaller dunes covered with the brilliantly red-tinged leaves of uña de gato. We later marveled at a large shifting dune that had consumed a pair of utility poles, with just the uppermost portions sticking out from the sand.
Roughly two hours after leaving the farm, we arrived to Costa Bonita, where we met up with Mery's fiancé Pato and a couple of friends. After tending to the horses, we got down to the business of preparing lunch. Pato and his friend were in charge of preparing the pollo al disco – chicken cooked with onions and peppers in a huge, footed iron pan over the fire – while the rest of us snacked on some potato chips and soda.
Once our meal was ready, I planted my aching backside in the sand and proceeded to enjoy my chicken sandwich. After lunch we all relaxed a bit, and I took the opportunity to lie down and take a bit of a snooze. Unfortunately after about an hour and a half of inactivity, my muscles had tightened up so badly that I could barely walk let alone continue on horseback. I decided that I would have to throw in the towel and ask for a ride home.
Today I am very sore, but amazingly I have just a couple of minor scrapes and bruises. I thought for sure that I would have a horrendous black-and-blue patch on my left side, but much to my surprise, there's hardly a battle scar to speak of! Despite my spill, I'm already planning my next outing. Just as the saying goes, when you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on.