A very relaxing morning as I and two members of our group get ready for our horseback riding. Now I have never ridden a horse. As we wait patiently in the lobby playing on our phones a gentleman walks through the entrance of this cozy hotel and asks if we are ready to go. He has no insignia on his car and we just get up and get in the car. I chose to leave the camera behind in case something would break.
As we drive to the ranch the man talks to us about the area and how him and his family owns many of these horseback riding ranches all over Peru. He parks in front of a small little house with large gates all covered with overgrown grass. We get out and he gives us a helmet and we proceed after him. The doors open up and a tunnel awaits us – surrounded by what seems like a forest all around. As I am first in front I start walking and hearing sounds of horses but then I see a beautiful eagle perched and at first I get closer thinking that it’s a really amazing sculpture but then it moves away from me! The thing is real! They tell me that they saved him when his wing broke up in the mountains and now he hangs out at the farm and comes back after he is done eating. Amazing!
They bring out three horses. I am the heaviest of the three of us and they first give a small horse to the girl, a stallion to the tall guy and a medium size horse to me. Only issue is I have no idea how to get on this thing – this isn’t the movies! So they found a step near by and I barely climbed on clenching the reins for dear life. The guide explains that to steer left you simply pull on the reigns left and vice versa and when you want the horse to go fast you let the reins loose. Seemed pretty simple to me but how the heck does a horse know this… The older guide got on the more wild horse and decided to lead us while the gentleman who drove us decided to be on the last horse behind. I decided to get up front and follow the guide.
We slowly get out of the ranch, cross the street and then begin our ride through what seemed like the back roads of many farms in the area. My horse was doing pretty well and his name was Navajo (I think). He would stop repeatedly and I had to learn my way but I did really well – we even galloped a little. I learned that these horses don’t ride up and down but go side to side (still have no idea how) but when you ride your butt just moves left to right – not up and down and this only happens with horses in this area and in Spain.
30 minutes in we began going up a hill down a road where cars drove – a little scary but we did well. The weather was just right – not hot and was a great time. We then stopped off to have some lunch at one of their prime spots. I pretty much jumped off my horse but as soon as that happened I was worried about how I would get on.
The view at the top was amazing. I didn’t eat – just wanted to get safely back on the horse. The guide asked how much I weighed and they decided to give me the huge black stallion horse – which getting on was way tougher and he was way less willing to listen to me when I tried to steer him. We want back the same path and overall it was a lot of fun. I did have a funny hiccup – getting off the horse… We got back to the ranch and the main guy that speaks English was nowhere to be around to help and his dad spoke no English and he keeps signaling me to get off. I keep trying to tell him I don’t know how. Long story short – muscle cramped while trying to get down and fell on my butt – but least I was off the damn stallion.
The guide drove us back to our hotel and we got all of our stuff out of storage and got ready to take the train to go to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu). We waited at the train station and finally got on – a fairly modern train that was run by the Orient Express.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes where it felt like everything was built on hills. We gave our stuff to guides who ran up these crazy steep hills to our hotel while we slowly marched. At this point it was getting close to nightfall and we met up with the rest of our group who were exhausted beyond their wild imaginations yet also proud of what they had accomplished. I had thought I wish I had done it but I also knew I was not ready for such an event – next time! We had some great food and everyone wanted to get back to bed to pass out. Just before we did we all sat in the lobby, which was simply 2 small couches with us sitting on every piece of it trying to get the Internet to work on our mobile devices. Time for bed – this was not a very nice hotel room at all but it was somewhere to sleep.
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