Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cristo de la Luz

Although I could probably write a book about it, in the interest of publishing sooner and boring less people I just wanted to jot down some memories from the two-day trail ride this past weekend in the Sierra de Gredos with Gredos Ecuestre, which was an amazing experience I hope to repeat sooner than later.  The first day I mostly took videos which as usual I've been too lazy to edit and upload, which is why there are less photos then on the second day.  When I have the video I'll be sure to publish it here too.

1st day:

Starting out the day with jokes and hugs between long-absent friends.  Finding inner peace while watching the gorgeous panoramas of the Sierra de Gredos come in and out of view as we started on our journey and getting that familiar rush from the first canter of the day.  Hearing only our horses’ hoof falls in silent primeval forests, trusting our mounts to find their way up mountainsides through the brush when downed trees blocked our path and sweating our way down steep rocky descents.  Spying the moss-covered “witch’s cabin” through the trees and overgrown ferns and looking in vain for “the witch”, an old lady who has lived on that mountainside all her life and never goes into town.  Stopping for a delicious home-cooked lunch of green beans, pasta salad and lamb stew topped off with lemon mousse and a home-made digestif for desert in a shady pine grove while the horses rested nearby looking like a herd of wild mustangs grazing in the forest.

Riding down a tree lined grass covered boulevard and through tiny streets winding alongside a mountain stream in Lanzahita on the way to where the horses spent the night.  Earning the confidence of and playing with the month-old blue-eyed palomino filly at Miguel’s finca, sharing an amazing dinner with too many things to mention cooked by his wife and finishing the day with a slightly tipsy sing-along before collapsing into our beds.

2nd day:

Sipping our morning coffee surrounded by the horses in a sun-drenched field. As more and more people joined the Romería we suffered some equine hysterics at the water-trough to see which horse got to drink first, followed by a fun round of spooks as we were overtaken by other riders, donkey carts, wagons pulled by tractors blasting flamenco music, horse-drawn carriages, dirtbikes and even a few 4x4s, all toting festive Spaniards dressed to the nines in their traditional costumes.

The first gallop of the day across an uphill cattle field, letting the horses blow off some steam.  Ricardo’s horse Rif getting one of his hooves caught up in some recklessly discarded barbed wire and luckily standing still for Ricardo to unwind it.  Standing on a hill above Hontanares watching folks canter into town with crowds lining the entire length of the town streets and applauding each group of riders.

Finally taking a deep breath and cueing Lince to canter when it was my group’s turn and being so pleasantly surprised at his self-control in this crazy situation that I was able to relax and enjoy our entrance.  Hearing several people shout out “Vamos chicas!” – “You go girls!” as Ana and I cantered by and feeling a glow and happiness that actually brought tears of joy to my eyes as we cooled down the horses walking through town.

Crossing the Tiétar river with the water so deep that my feet got wet and being so grateful that for once Lince didn’t want to take a swim with me, then enjoying a lazy picnic lunch of croquettes, tortilla española and chilly salmorejo in good company on its sandy banks.

One last thrilling canter up the mountainside and finally the return to La Parra.

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