My internship is out in the country. The town I’m working in is surrounded by grape and corn farmlands back dropped by a so far nameless mountain range. (when I’ve asked people just tell me “those, those are the mountains” with a shrug). One of my new friends Bladie, the computer teacher at the school where I’m working, invited me and some friends to go horseback riding in the mountains and farm lands because he and his neighbor own horses.
The group; Bladie
We showed up Saturday morning at about 9am and drove out to his house at the base of the mountains. There, Bladie and his neighbor Marquez saddled the horses while we ate Quince fruit (did you even know it existed in non-jelly form?!) right off the trees in the yard. They taste a bit like granny smith apples with more of a tart flavor and you’re supposed to put salt on the parts without the peel.
Marquez asked who had been on a horse before, and while most of us had, I seemed to have the most experience, which is not saying a lot. They put me on the youngest horse, who I was warned was both skittish and aggressive (a bit like my fear-related aggression dog Brody) and that I’d have to stay as calm as possible to ride him. This is the first time I’d ever been on a horse that was not part of a guided tour on a set path. We were literally taking horses off trail into the mountains.
I’m on a horse.
But it was fantastic. Despite the warnings my horse gave me no problems. He was calm, and he minded me. Every time we’d stop I’d rub his neck and coo. The one time I didn’t do it, he turned his head around and clacked his teeth at me. By the end of the day I trusted him enough to do a slow gallop in an open field at the base of the mountain; it must have been the Iowa genes but I really felt at home on the range.
We rode about half way up the mountain for about 4 hours until we reached a clearing where we dismounted and drank some coffee. I was a bit nervous getting off the horse, because on the “trail” we’d seen and heard a puma but been told not to worry because the cat would not come near the horses. After our coffee brake, they walked us a bit up the hill to an old abandoned gold mine. The whole thing is filled with water now, but you can still walk over it into the cave behind the pit. With the light of an Iphone, we did a bit of exploring, but we didn’t want to go too far in on account of it being really dark and cramped. We were lucky enough to not see any bats.
The cave; the gold mine; ladies in a gold mine
After coming down off the mountain, we ended the day riding through a vineyard. Marquez picked us each a bunch of grapes off the vine, so that we could eat while we rode though. I had this moment of pure surreal bliss as I thought to myself, I’m riding on a horse though a vineyard eating fresh grapes off the vine in Chile. How did I ever get so lucky to end up here?
Riding through the vineyard; my horse eating grape leaves
My horse scratching his head