snow again.

snow. again. horizontal and big flakes.
this morning was spent at the barn, much longer than i needed to be there, but since when do you need to explain lingering in a place that is simply beautiful. the snow sticking wetly to each branch and on the horses' manes and tails while they snort the snow out of the way in the water trough.

work this evening. it's the kind of night when all you want to do is stay home, burrowing in to snugly tucked blankets and kittens. hot cocoa with schnapps or perhaps a hot toddy in hand. and yet it will be hoppin at work, everyone not wanting to venture far too far from home and yet the call of a glass of good beer and food you don't have to cook for yourself is inviting, especially when you can walk there through the snow.



is the only thing i can see myself doing for the rest of my life, and being totally happy every day. And today I had a depressing lesson. I mean, we all have off days, but really, do i have to grab mane over a two foot jump? every time? and do i really make the horse invert over every single jump when i've ridden him every week for months before i left to go south? it was degrading a little. the flat was perfect, perhaps the best ever on that horse... he's a little A.D.D. and little nuts and likes to leap sideways unexpectedly, and loves to jump. and yet he stopped at a jump with me, note that the jump was maybe 2'3" aka so little. he's never ever even thought about stopping before. did i really get that awful while i was gone? oi.


back home

... listening to the mix i've been listening to since i finished creating it, wrapped in a sweatshirt, two shirts, heavy wool socks, under the blankets in my room. The cars driving on the street outside pass with the sounds of rain under a grey sky. Here it is monochromatic. the houses have taken on the colors of the street, the dirty snow, the darkened tree branches. What a stark difference between the vibrancy and lushness of central america. Here it seems everyone is waiting with baited breath for the warmth, for the first signs of spring. everyone's a little cranky, a little pessimistic, a little like their surroundings. stark black and white and wearing no color, wrapped up in clothes from head to toe. I am missing the colors of everyone, the bright shirts, the flowers, the sun making everything sparkle even when it was covered in dirt. The various shades of people skin, the COLORS. it's a shock. not so much culture shock, but color shock. I don't think it was as apparent last year, and here, we become accustomed to it, everything in shades of grey.

yesterday when i walked in the door, i was greeted by a stampede. a stampede of one cat, with a plastic bag wrapped around his middle, flapping around behind him, making such a racket. the other fluff balls peering after him, their tails the size of a baseball bat, mohawks raised on all their backs. Welcome home to the land of crazy.

They are the life of the house. making the cold outside a little more bearable. (and it's even warm, a whopping 40 degrees)

this morning i awoke covered in kittens and feeling like all i wanted was to be back in the land of horses, where that's all i have to talk about and all anyone wants to hear about... where its warm and you can ride everyday. No waiting on rude drunken people, no jacket, scarf and sweatshirt required. wishing my new acquaintances weren't hundreds of miles away. But i suppose thus begins the hard work... working to make it. whatever that may mean. Picking up as many shifts as possible so i can buy a horse in a few months, then comes showing and showing and riding everyday.

tomorrow, a lesson, all day at the barn. catching up with the horse people i know and love here. the horses will bring the color back into my routine.


Guatemala catch up

Wow. So this is the first time i've really had time... and i'm now in Houston Texas, spending the night in the airport with plenty of time to write loads about the rest of the trip.

What an adventure. It definitely had it's ups and downs and tumultuous moments, but ultimately, it was a success. Even though I am still having moments of longing, strange urges to figure out how to live in the warmer weather, where riding is cheap.

It's always interesting spending time masquerading as something that feels like a costume. almost. except it also feels so right, makes me so happy, and i can't imaging spending my days any other way. It is obvious that the majority of the folks at the horse show have access to nearly infinite funds.... or at least enough to not worry. That simple thing, is something I just don't know. That has yet to be a part of my life. I mean, family has my back, I know they wouldn't ever let me fall into the pit of poverty, and yet we come from living off of the love of the job instead of being motivated by the cash produced from the work. And this is a wonderful quality that I am proud to say I will live by.... I can not imagine doping anything besides spending my days with horses and the people that love them just as much as I do.

Sometimes it's hard to watch a twelve or thirteen year old ride three horses a day in a horse show, one better than the last, and adorned in a show jacket that cost more than my whole show outfit combined by about three hundred dollars. And then they win.

But ultimately I know that I will have earned every ride I've ever gotten, that I've worked hard for and completely deserve everything I (will) accomplish.
(Though it would be nice to get a break.)

Karma. It'll come around, i'm sure.

Anyway. The show. The first day we went to try out all the horses, Costa Rican, Brazilian, Dominican, Panamanian and U.S(ian) madness. I tried my horse out first with a few other folks, and the horse was dreamy. didn't like to turn, but liked to jump (or so it felt to me). Honest, big stride. Totally fine by me.

At this first barn I met Pitta, a rider from Brazil, working from Panama who had brought a couple of students, and was riding two horses in the meter 20 class. A nice guy and a pretty beautiful rider.

So we continued on, tried a bunch of horses for the kids, they all seemed fine. Then Joanne and I got whisked away by a wealthy horsey French woman fluent in at least four languages to the hotel, from where we grabbed a shuttle to the airport to meet Helen. The timing was pretty ok, and we then went across the highway to the jockey club where we met up with the group again to try out the rest of the horses.

(the picture is a monochromatic one of the jockey club... with the volcano in the background)

We went to Antigua after we got the horses all figured out (give or take).
here is our super huge group...

this is the beginning of one of those beautiful tapestries the women spend all day every day weaving.

We were taken on a tour by this guy who was really emphatic. He knew all the dates, all the numbers, and spoke the whole tour first in spanish, and then english. pretty repetitive, but nice. Did i mention he was emphatic?

this was on the back of a scooter. i took it for becca. <3

and here.... is my favorite picture from the trip. We went to dinner at this four star hotel with a famous kitchen. It was at one time a nunnery... why i can't remember the proper name is beyond me...  but while we waited for the other folks to catch up with us, everyone sat in front of the last dinner atop a carpeted tile floor. that was open to the elements on the near side. teeheehee.


Day two in Guatemala, the first day of the horse show was nice, a beautiful day, sun breaking through the clouds mid morning. I was the first of the Costa Rica / U.S. riders, and went to watch my horse go before i was to retrieve him. The layout of the show is designed so that each horse in the competition gets the same wear and tear that every other horse goes. So if you are going to ride your horse in any class through the meter 20, your horse gets entered into a raffle for an international rider. The monday before the show, you get your horse through the raffle, with one back up horse, juts incase you and the first don't mix weell, or something happens to them. 

The first day of the show, the owners of the horses ride first, followed by the international riders. So by the time you ride, as an international competitor, you have gotten to watch the horse do the course once, and you have a better idea of how it likes to go and be ridden.

So, I watched my horse, standing next to the trainer from Panama, Pitta, and we watch, captivated, as the first four or five jumps go just fine and then at the five stride line the horse throws on the breaks, slamming his rider's face into the top rail, bringing the whole jump down and bringing the paramedics running. they took him out on a stretcher. And here we are watching this all unfold, my knees start to shake.... all i wanted was for this show to better than last year's which wasn't supposed to difficult because my horse last year just bucked me around the course, fitting two strides in every one stride between the fences followed by buck after buck after buck after buck after buck..... you get the idea.

Pitta was great. We rushed over to grab the horse as he came out of the ring. The best way to fix that sort of issue is to immediately get on and have the horse start jumping again, forgetting that he doesn't want to, but he has to, and then wants to. So I hop on, gallop around the warm up area, and head towards a tiny little jump, horse slams on the breaks. my spurs go in his side. buck buck buck buck, back to an even littler jump, and again, slams on the breaks at the last second.

The steward and Pitta talk it over in rapid spanish, then Pitta is next to me, explaining that it'll be totally fine, they are getting me a new horse; Ali S. We watch the new one jump the course, me shaking and nervous sweating, holding my breath through the whole course.... the horse goes great, loves jumping, only takes one rail. ride caught it in the mouth and didn't care.

Then it's my turn. I have maybe five minutes to figure out the horse, over four jumps under the watchful eye of Pitta, and then galloping into the ring for my "pista". The first jump fine, the second, we drop a rail... it's a purple and brown jump, a single vertical after a tight turn from the first oxer, towards home, meant to make the horse take it flat, and do what i did.... take the rail down. The next three jumps I don't remember, I lost my stirrup, forgetting how to ride. Coming into the line that marked the fifth obstacle, I just remember thinking, ok idiot, you either crash into the jump and fall off, or fucking RIDE! Caught my stirrup, took that line almost sideways, and rode like hell, making a good time, and finishing with a bang. No one knew i lost my stirrup, and all the crazyiness happened on the other side the ring, so no one could see the trainwreck that was the first part of my course. Which was a good thing.

I must say, although it was hard for helen to stand by and not be able to help trough the whole ordeal and have this strange rider / trainer take me under his wing and be the support that she was supposed to be for me, I really don't think i would have been able to ride that first day without both of them being there. My body just shut down. My brain couldn't think of anything besides disaster. it almost was disaster.

Helen as horse show entertainment provider. the kids were really good at crosswords. (better than yours truely) and far more excited about them then watching fifty million horses jump the same course over and over.



it's been intense here, in Guatemala. the girls have all won trophies and ribbons and well, i've been running around with my head cut off after them, making sure they did the best possible, and my concentration on the course has suffered. i've nothing to bring home but some videos and anecdotes.

the first day of competition, the horse i drew from the raffle that had seemed totally amazing and invincible, threw his owner face first into a jump, sending him off in a stretcher with blood pooring down his show jacket.

So with maybe 15 or 20 rides in between me and my encounter with said horse, i was given another. (thanks to a Brazilian who works in Panama and was watching my first mount destroy the course and any hope of making it though intact) But not until after we rushed over, grabbed the bad horse, i jumped on, and tried to make him forget about how he hadn't wanted to jump. no such luck, the horse threw on the brakes, not once, but twice, and then Pitta (the brazilian panamanian) got me new horse, then jumped on the old one and made him go over the jump. Anyway, I hopped on the new one, shaken to the core and literally shaking, and tried to figure this new mount out in approximately 10 minutes. we took down one rail. same the next day, though i remembered to ride the whole course this time, and then today, I rode pretty well, except for one line... we took the first vertical, and the one after that i was not ready for a super duper long spot... but the rest was fast and in style, thhough not good enough to get a ribbon, let alone a trophy.



white water rafting etc

So yesterday I went white water rafting with an acquaintance of joanne, amanda, who is studying for her masters at University of the Peace. She is a spirited, forthright, tall, blonde Canadian. Needless to sya, we had loads of fun. We were picked up first at 5:45 at a hotel down the way, from which we went and picked up a few more passengers, and then onto the river. We stopped and got breakfast of pintas, which is arroz y frijoles mixed, aka beans and rice. But clearly not enough, because we were all ravenous not 20 minutes into the rafting. But back to the bus... the whole way we were entertained by one of the guides Pito, a stocky man of unidentifiable age who has been working the rivers for 16 years. He ended up being our Guide. In our raft with us were three girls from new york who were quite lovely, and fun, but very into singing disney songs, (read seven dwarves work song, pocohonas river song, etc etc). They had left their boyfriends in the city, and were not calling them. They had everything planned.... down to the minute, riding in Monte verde, white water rafting from san jose... the way they organized their trip is, i'm sure, the way their lives run, except way more exciting of course.

There were "paparzi" that followed the rafts down the river and took photos of all the rapids and some key land scape shots. but about 80 or so shots for our boat alone, so we all split one of the cd's so it was only 5 bucks a piece, and that's why i don't have pictures of it yet! but i will... don't worry, and more than you would ever care to see)

Our guide for our boat ended up being Pito, who was great. I'm glad we got him, 16 years on the rivers, and boy did he know the ins and outs, the facts, and we were all a good team, good listeners, and ready to have fun. Pito stuck a tree branch in his helmet, why, i'm not sure, I think it might be because he's been on the river so long, he was the lead or something??? who knows, anyway, half way through we had to wait for one of the eight raftes were going with, and so he climbed out, and got us all branches. We looked like bloated laughing rainforest nymphs. It was incredible.

The river we went down was in one of the most amazingly beautiful places i've ever been. It was on the Caribbean side of the country. It was through straight up rain forest, and boy did it rain. All day mist and clouds but it was beautiful with the mist hovering above the trees, trees of which I have never seen the like. If I had to choose two words for the rain forest they would be: verticalization and vivid-green (i'm taking liberties and making it one word). The trees were so tall, and then, in the desnse green that was the side of the river, there would be these white trunks of trees, like highlights in the landscape. All the trees were trunk till the top, with amazing leaves spewing out, like they couldn't be contained any more. Incredible. We saw an iguana, many tiny little red frogs that made a noise to fill the forest.

We flew past a reservation and lodges and ropes strung across the river with gondolas strung up in between them, the way of crossing the river.
We got to jump out and float through the most beautiful canyon, with waterfalls pouring warm water on our heads, a moss covered bridge spanning the width to watch birds from. it was breath taking, we all just kept gasping and pointing.... it was an amazing adventure.

By the time lunch came, we were all so ravenous, we ate three plates each filled with pastas and tortillas, corn and hot peppers, salad, and coconut sugar bars that were delightful and bright red.

it was cold when we weren't moving, which was the only down fall of the trip. like, so cold. rain falling all day, wet clothes from head to toe, and the food was cool as well. but after lunch, back in the raft, we quickly warmed up, refueled and happy.

today the market, packing, and going to Guatemala! (and nursing sore muscles and bruises from yesterday)
the girls and beth at the Equus.

sydney maria
 hiding from the sun. isn't she amazing?

a few things

first off, this is my mom. she's amazing, and, well, amazing. my dad took the photo. you can probably tell he's really good at this job, casue he take photos to support his spoiled kids, like me! (and xina)
and in honor of how tired/late/crazy this day was.... here is how i feel about valentines day through the comics of an amazing lady. these are from fart party (please don't get mad i used them.... i bought your book!)

(awww) till tomorrow.



So. we went to the Equus, and as i wait for joanne to come back so we can go get coffee and presents to bring home from the market, i thought i would sit back down and write a bit.

I've been keeping another journal, more private thoughts, the questions and answers, writing down the things i've learned.... it's keeping me sane. Though let me tell you, the girls have reached an insane level of excitement, I mean I am excited, but they get to miss school! And play with ponies and other kids for a week. On the way to and from the Equus, the girls were singing, or screaming rather, songs in spanish and just generally being excited and only a little obnoxious. All seven of them, six girls and the little boy who is in their riding class on saturdays, smooshed into the back seat of Beth's truck, and then three of us longer legged folks up front.

I'm glad there will be more of them this year and some parents so I only have to do the horsey part of it. Love them, but not all the time... it's why i don't have kids! (everyone else in the neighborhood our age does ya know)

Tangent done.
I can feel the heat still on my face and arms, a little sun today. my skin is happier breathing. though i think it's time again for serious sun screen. no more even tiny burns. though the sun has retreated behind darkening clouds, and the wind is bringing them closer. I assume it will rain again. Here it rains like it's been holding it back, and just can't any longer. short and furious.

coconuts of some kind in the pool after the last impish rain.

and Odalys (who is going to guatemala) and the son of one of the men who works at the barn. I think his name is mario something-or-other. oh how bad i am at names.  and of course, the pony's name is tick tac.

misc. photos

this morning the sun has come out again, though with big lazy, hazy clouds threatening to shield the sun. today is saturday. the talk of sydney's puppies and who they will go to (me?) has gotten more important as her belly has grown. it's now looking like it will burst with puppies, though probably not until we are in guatemala.
she lays at your feet, so excited when you will scratch the spots she can't reach.

today we go back to the Equus....

you can see the views, which are everywhere. they sky expansive. it's beautiful. Also note the jumps, big, exciting looking, but wait, no walls, no rolltops, no coups, no planks.... kindda boring. and this was supposed to be set for the meter ten class, and most of the jumps look about a meter (the class I'll be doing in Guatemala), with maybe one or two exceptions. 

Anyway, it will be nice to go with the kids and watch the courses.


rain ponies

Today. there was rain. today i rode a pony named sweet-tart who is a little bit sassy and a little bit darling, she is three. Today I watched 30 rock while the rained poured down. the ring was still dusty by this afternoon.

I had a dream last night, well many, but the most important one is keeping me locked in dream world all day, and i can't escape. It would be lovely, if i didn't have to wait for said dream to come true in a little over three days.

Anyway, the stewards seminar ended up being full, but I went with Beth to the Equus while she did some of the requirements for the class. We sat for a while, watched the meter, meter ten and meter twenty classes go, and figured out how to ride the course in the five million hours in between classes. (a poorly run show) It was incredibly good to go and watch, it got the nerves out of me, and it's been a super long time since i've had anyone knowledgeable watch a show with me. and by that i mean maybe since i was working for Sean McCook (who is now working for the premier horse dealer in perhaps the world.)

This city, and I guess this whole area reminds me of San Francisco in a warped kind of way because it down't metter where you are, but there are breath taking views of the mountains from everywhere.
(I will post some photos later tonight when I get them on my computer.)

so tomorrow we are going to the market. What will be there, I have no idea, I am hoping beautiful wears, and I'm going to get the best coffee ever. and by 'ever' I mean EVER. seriously.

I'm hoping to find some fabulous things to bring back for my mom and xina, and of course, I have something particular in mind for my favorite.... we'll see what materializes tomorrow. I've been holding it in my mind's eye all day with the hope that the "luck" pulls through.

Until sometime soon.


rules and regulations

Last year I learned a lot by trial and error in the paddock warming the kids up. The F.E.I. (International Equestrian Federation) has all sorts of crazy rules, some of which seem totally reasonable, and others are, but perhaps are a little crazy nit picky. (the horse show in Guatemala is a nationally rated CSI*, which means all the F.E.I. rules apply)

This year i got the F.E.I. rule book. It's thicker than any text book i ever had, and smaller print too.

In the warm up paddock they have a steward who makes sure all the rules are being followed and that everyone is ready to go in the ring, moving everything along at a nice clip. Last year in Guatemala there were over 50 riders in most of the classes, and there would be five classes a day.... so you can imagine that this was a pretty important thing.

So, in somewhat roundabout ways I found out that it is illegal:
-to have the two poles of the crossbars touch (makes it harder to knock down, can be dangerous).
-to have a back rail lower, even by one hole than the front bar of an oxer (this makes it hard to see the back bar and so when the horse gets to the jump, they are surprised by it, making them jump bigger)
-to make a horse drop a rail on purpose
-to make it harder for the rails to come down (see above, plus making the standards closer and squishing against the poles)
-take a jump from the wrong direction (duh, no collisions please)
-change anything about the tack. except stirrups and tightness of the girth... take off/ on a martingale, rubber rings, boots, whatever.... without permission of the owner/groom

While walking the course, pista, you must be in full wear if you are not the trainer. boots, britches, jacket, helmet etc. aka you must look presentable.
If you are the trainer and walking the course, you must also look presentable. Though what that means exactly I don't know. But if you walk it with no boots but you have britches on.... that's no good.

the list goes on.

ANYWAY! the exciting bit is that there is a two day course to be certified as a steward starting this afternoon. And Beth is seeing if there is another spot open. Which means that i might not be certified, BUT i definitely will know whats what. Mostly know how to follow the millions of rules.
Then I could probably be a steward at home for local shows and stuff.
That'd be fun.

I'm excited at the prospect. I hope it works out.

Today is windy, the sky has a few quickly moving clouds, and it's quite warm. i've been getting some rays without sunscreen (20 minutes or so a day) cause my skin has been super sensative and ouchy when i put the stuff on it. and it seems to be helping. But no sunburn for me! Nope nope nope. I will not be leather skinnned or cancerous if I can help it. But some sun is definitely good for the soul and the skin.

Everyone is super excited for the show. Every five minutes the girls say, "i can't wait!" for what? "guatemala silly" or "DUHHHH. guatemala"
 I completely agree with them. I'm counting down.
I'm excited for Guatemala. But mostly I'm excited for what comes along with Guatemala.

xoxox to all my snowbirds at home. make some snow people for me and snow angels. a fortif you are feeling ambitious!


earthquakes etc.

This time of year is the dry season, when everything dries out, the kids go back to school, and the trees drop their leaves.

When someone first told me this, I was in disbelief! What? deciduous trees only drop their leaves to conserve energy in the winter, not when the sun is bright and it's hot out. Common, thats what I learned all through school. Except somehow they never mentioned that in warm climates, deciduous trees still drop their leaves but they do it so they can put all their power into producing flowers, then fruit so it can drop by the rainy season.

So. right now, the trees are blooming. little orangish buds have been popping up everywhere, warming the landscape from a greenish brown to a swath of color from perfumey whites to deep reds and oranges.

Apparently I missed my first earthquake! Today they asked if I had felt it when i was walking back to the apartment with one of the dogs, and well, i remember looking at the pool and thinking it was weird that the jets were still on, but i suppose it was the earthquake instead. I had no idea. Apparently it shook twice. two little shimmies. DAMN. Whatever. Maybe there will be one i notice. I'm going to blame it on the fact that I was walking, and outside in the dark, so if there was a little tremble, i could have been in mid flight over the ground.
Anyway, today I saw my first real wildlife. I was sitting next to the pool, soaking up some rays writing in my journal when behind me this noise that sounded like someone was dragging rocks, or hoisting up a rusty pulley began. So I looked over, and there, coming down from what must have been a reptilian version of what I was doing, came a HUGE lizard. I mean at least two feet long including the tail. grey, with darker spots or stripes I couldn't really tell. She was pulling herself down the metal roof of this outdoor space in the corner of the yard, down towards the shade. I guess she was hot too. It was pretty amazing.

Later while riding, two little neon green birds, parakeets perhaps, went swooping down, playing tag, or fighting, or something. Then off into the distance they flew.

Most of the birds I've seen so far have been big, angry, and dark colors. There is a dove that hangs out around the house who coos in this voice that sounds like she tape recorded it, and is playing it back on a crappy recorder from under her wings. She has a white tail and is quite the curvaceous bird.

It's fun to see these animals I've never seen in the wild before. I'm sure they won't be the last either. 

Tonight I will fall asleep after watching the first season of 30 rock and dream of a Costa Rican version of bambi, staring the grey lizard as the skunk and the green birds and well, i'll have to dream up bambi and thumper. Maybe the dove can be thumper.... i'll have to wait and see what happens with that one.

-----i'm sending good thoughts and energy to Philadelphia to let the snow fall, and then melt away before monday. No flight delays.... help me with this. lots of sun and a touch of warmth. song birds can sing, and the snow can disappear from the roads. <3 -------


cabalgata continued!

this was the group I went with. all grey horses. we had loads of fun. and the scenery was so incredibly beautiful. though there was always some crazy person racing themselves or someone else creating such a racket up the road. none of the horses seemed to care, or when cars or scooters would fly past within inches, honking, flags waving out windows for the election happening today (sunday)... for which the first woman might win, she's ahead in the polls. 
this guy was the auctioneer. they were raising money for the town's nursing home. this young cow, bacca, was for auction. part of his umbilical cord was still crustily attached.

the little guy was super cute and quite skittish, i would have been too i suppose. they also auctioned off animal feed and other food things, i think. it wa hard to tell, what with the auctioneer speaking a zillion miles and hour.
after we waited...
and waited
and ate some food, i ate some before i remembered to take a picture (yuca with ensalada of lettuce salsa and fresh lemons (the green things) and chicharones (pork) which i did not eat, and waited some more and drank some beer
this was my favorite. So they tied four horses together. The paint that is sideways was trying despritly to get some of this tall grass off to my left, so he would try to reach it, realize it was fruitless, go nudge the back hores, then nudge the far grey, then the near one, trying to get them to move closer, then he would try to reach this particular bit of grass again, not beable to, and go through the whole ordeal again. it was hysterical. the other three horses clearly didn't feel it was neccessary to move in the heat, and wouldn't. but they were super cute.

after a while, we struck out again, making a loop, taking this beautiful route with the most impressive expanses of land. it was fun watching all the folks on horses.... many kids riding in the saddle in front of their fathers, and then some riding double!

this horse was the one the father was riding. i'd never seen an albino horse before. he looked fake. but beautiful. apparently the owner calls him the barbie horse because when he sweats he turns pink. which he did by the end of the ride. beautiful and creepy.

this is the truck we took the horses in. you can see how high off the ground they are. there are better shocks in trucks than trailers, and since the roads are so bad, it works better for the horses. and the trucks are easier to maneuver. however, it means that they have to find a bank to back the truck up to in order to load or unload the horses. inconvenient. but hey, they are airy, and protect the horses from the sun.

there are so many things that are done differently here that are considered normal, that we would never ever do in the states because it's dangerous or ignorant or whatever. but mostly i think here, it stems from necessity. you do what you gotta do and cn afford, and life is just different. They have a different climate to deal with not to mention  security and roads and just the simple act of living. So many people have horses it's so much cheaper to keep them. but it's also a matter of survival, and horses are kept everywhere, it's not unusual to find them in back yards, farms in the middle of the city, and you see people riding everywhere pretty much.

You would never find two hundred horses tied to barbed wire fences while their owners drink and eat and carry on in the states. but i've seen so many folks in the states fall doing nothing, and here, like yesterday, there were trucks everywhere honking, people yelling, and the horses were high stung, but not spooky. and i don't think anyone fell, or got hurt, and this happens every weekend in this country. it just is so different. you want to look good, you want to have a nice horse, but that doen't mean everything you have is a million dollars, and that doesn't mean you forgo the act of learning how to stay mounted. people rode in 4 inch heals and belly shirts, no one wore helmets, and no one got hurt. no coggins needed, free drink and food, can you imagine how disastrous something like that would be in the states? everyone was on their porches, outside at their gates, on the side of the road, hooting and hollering, yipping and screaming, and none of the horses cared, and if they started prancing, all the better, it showed off how good a horseman you were and how fancy your horse was.

i found it so refreshing. everyone was nice, smiling, making sure everyone else was ok. showing off and having fun, but all around horses. i mean, it probably isn't so good to race your horses on the road, and they all needed baths and liniment when they got home, and i'm sure most didn't get either.... but they are hearty beasts, and i think sometimes we treat them too much like babies... incapable to surviving, trying to protect them from everything scary, and as a result turn into frightened crazy animals that can more dangerous than not.

anyway. i had alot of fun. apparently there is another next weekend. everyone was talking about it. saying "it's better". what better mean i have no idea. but maybe i'll go?


So yesterday I did this really crazy thing called a cabalgata, which is basically like a trail ride with anyone that wants to go, with a huge party and hundreds of horses. It's unlike anything we have in the states... i've never seen so many horses in one place. (there were atleast 193 (the highest number i saw))

So i'll take you through it with the photos i took, so maybe it'll be a little more clear. this is Tavare, the horse i rode. he's an angel with hooves. some might call that the devil, but he was wonderful.
so. this event was to start at noon, and well we got there closer to 1, and still had time to get a drink, read water or beer, our numbers, and hang out listening to this crazy music that sounded like polka. apparently the dance style is close to swing, and of course i can't remember the name of that kind of music.
anyway. once everyone got there with their horses, in trucks, some had up to 10 in them, pickups with wooden platforms the horses would get on and stand with their head over the cabs, everyone had gotten a drink (we got tickets for food and drink with our numbers. the drinks you could choose from were a shot of wisky (how they spell it) a cervesa (beer) or refresco (soda)) we all mounted and moved out.

screaching, yelling, horses trotting straight up and down, that high knee action is what they all desire. the horses have been trained to pick their feet straight up and down, sometimes trotting in place, frothing and foaming. it was pretty intense.

Tavare and i were picked up by this family who owns the barn where Michelle keeps her horses. the father is this amazing looking classic costa rican cowboy. i took a ton of pictures of him because he was lovely. they were all super welcoming, made conversation with me even though i only understood some of it, and couldn't elaborate on much. The father must have asked me seven or eight times if I was having fun, did i think this or that was beautiful. I tried to explain, i think successfully, that this was unlike anything we have at home. but i liked this much more. it was a party with horses. pretty amazing.

We embarked. all 193+ (the father, above, thought that there were definitely more than 200, closer to 250.) it was hard to fathom how many there were because you couln't see all the riders at any one time. i tried to take some pictures to capture it....
taking over the streets. which we mostly rode on. and some train tracks that were in fire? that was weird. i didn't quite understand why there were little fires on the tracks.

Someone forgot to mention i should dress like a cowboy. luckily i wore jeans, no half chaps, and didn't try and wear a helmet. i would have been laughed out of the hords of horses.

(right now ravon is playing hide and seek with me around the corner of the house. he has so much energy.)

I'm going to start another post with the second half of this.... the internet is shoddy and i'm worried all lose what i wrote thus far.


Costa Rica

I made it. My flight got in at 9something am, after a few hours of sleep and watching Se7en in Italian with Fabri.

I think I can safely say, this is one of the most beautiful places I've been. Along the Spanish side of the Pyrenees... I cannot remember ever having my breath being gone for a whole car/plane/train ride.

We drove past coffee fields, palm groves and the most amazing house architecture... short and colorful, i've never seen so many colors except in a crayola box, with arched doors and huge open windows, gates of all types securing what was in the houses, for the windows and doors were all flung open to catch the breeze.

It's the dry season, and every one i've met has said that it's so brown, no rain here till april. But to me, it's still far more beautiful. and there is still SO much green. (above is the view from the top of the house.

This is the house keepers son. He is cute as a button and was my house tour guide. right now he is standing on a bench to my right, in his little white tighty whities sopping wet cause he stripped and dove into the pool.

thats how warm it is.
there is a lime tree right in front of me. Here is where i am sitting: 

Oh, and there are five doggies, two golden retrievers, a boston terrier and two beautiful sheep dogs, one of which is going to have babies when we are in Guatemala.
this one i love. she follows me around. 
they all lounge in the shade all day, only moving to get a drink of water or to greet the gate. Molly, the mother and larger golden, loves the pool, and her baby, ruby maria, is a little devil. perros. dogs.

In an hour I am going to accompany beth to the barn for more riding time. (I took a lesson yesterday as well on a temperamental, fussy mare named liberty, libby for short, who was super fun after we got over her canter and head issues. Saturday I will either go white water rafting or on the equivalent of a hunter pace, a super long trail ride on one of Beth's horses, trivoli, a flea bitten grey with a roman nose. 

This year I swore to myself that i would not get burnt by the intense sun. Last year after the first two days it hurt to bend my elbows in my riding jacket and i had fat lips, like i'd been punched in the mouth. not this year. My haven't-seen-daylight-in-five-months skin will be protected all the time.

oh yeah, dad, remember the rum we bought you for x-mas? well, these are my bed sheets..... BEWARE THE KRAKEN. I laughed when i saw them.
My head goes on a big skull with tentacle arms when I sleep at night. what could be more perfect for dreaming.

time to slather sun screen all over, and get ready to ride all afternoon.
did i mention this is paradise?


my night in the airport

Oh dear. So it's 2 am in the morning, I have roughly six hours until my flight from here, Panama City, to Costa Rica.

And boy what fun already.
So after getting permission/making sure I wouldn't be kicked out of the airport, I walked back from customs (after getting a stamp, sneaky me!) and found a boy from my flight looking like he was about to do the same thing as me.

Turns out he's Italian, and on his way from New York to Columbia, and his flight is not until 11:30 tomorrrow morning. And, well, I thought I was crazy for staying over.

Anyway. Turns out this new friend, Fabrizio (what a name!) prepared for this layover, and downloaded a ton of movies. all in italian. So we watched seven. in italian.

and fabri translated for me, kindda, and i translated greed and sloth etc.
and now we are facebook friends. what has this world come to.

As we speak, fabri and his mom are skyping, i forgot how beautiful italian is. it almost sounds fake, how beautiful, and the emphisis.... oh me oh my.

on the plane I met this incredible woman who was on her way from West Chester (where she and her hubby live) to Panama for a vacation sans husband, to visit family and celebrate her brothers 50th birthday.

We formed the red glasses row, and with an empty seat in between us it was down right deluxe.
I know my dad will cringe at the photo i'm about to post, but it reminded me of the old saying:

Red at night, sailors delight, red in the morn, sailors be warned. (except it was absolutely stunningly red. and dad is always right that it's never fully captured in the photo.)

anyway.... the movie watching set up worked out like this:

what you can't see so well, is the suitcase/tv stand.
it worked. 
italian sneaks > dirty dory sneaks.


riding prep.

I leave tomorrow.

In preparation I took a riding lesson, that was the best i've had in a really long time.
and to finish it off, I went and rode Caetano pony for her mom and that went really well too. My major problem is that I brace with my right shoulder, and collapse through my shoulders and right side. SO we worked on it during my lesson. and then when riding caetano, i did the same stupid thing, and twisted to the left.... she picked up the wrong lead, then.... here's where the exciting part came in. It hought about it, opened through my chest, pulled my right shoulder back, and voila! right lead, BAM!

thats my story of the day.

I have so much to get done!

doin it now!


follow ups

(Not horsey, but yummy none the less)

So, last tuesday i made the most amazing food ever. well, i mean i haven't cooked anything for anyone but myself for quite a while, and it was a pretty amazing feat considering everything almost went up in flames and some of it actually did.... but the finished product was tasty.

this was the kale, artichoke heart and parmesan crepe:

and this is the curry butternut squash soup i made topped with white sweet potato croutons. I added a ton of browned garlic to both dishes to aid in immune stimulation cause of all the upcoming travels.  (didn't work cause i'm still sick. ugg)
but the food was tasty, and after dinner, sage really wanted to be in on the wine drinking action.
before I chased him off the table I took some super cute photos of him. He's spoiled. and I'm a cat lady. what can I say.
 New and exciting news!
H. is going to come to Guatemala for the horse show! I'm super super excited on so many levels, and it's going to be so good for her too, cause sun and stress free relaxing days watching horses and playing with kids.... followed by adventures organized by the horse show folks will be so good for mental and physical health and healing the winter woes.

Related: The count down has begun. I leave in two days.

**destroy the insanity of the house... so i can't be blamed for dirtiness and filth when i come back.
**pick out what i'm taking/ stage it in fourth room
**work.  last shift before i go!

**have a riding lesson
**get swanky horsey travel bag from amy
**ride little caetano
**pack pack pack pack pack pack packpackpack
**date with h.

**last feeding and stalls at courtesy stables
**ride eli?

sun and warmth and fun here i come!