It had been some time since the horses had done much serious traveling, and they were relatively out of shape, especially Chuck – the beefcake. Where we are living does not offer much for variety in trail riding, so trips have been limited to outings with friends as well as just easy rides, just to get out and go. So Mate and I started doing some serious riding – training – together down to our river, and working our way off the subdivision and out in the bigger world to the nearby very long, winding dirt road – straight down the mountain progressively to the big river – and eventually across and up the other side. Try to imagine this country we are living in and subsequently riding in – nothing is flat until you get to the coast; everything is crisscrossed with incredible water canyons and ridge tops and valleys = lots of steep. What might take an hour or more to drive from ‘here to there’, can be covered in half or less time by horse because of this (in many situations). At first Chuck about died coming up the hill from our river, it really isn’t that far – possibly a couple of kilometers, and going downhill was easy – it was the coming all the way back up to their pasture that we had to work at. Poor Chuck! He is a quarter type horse with a heavier thicker body than the local criollo horses that are smaller and finer and tougher than nails. We inherited Chuck as a rescue horse just this past year, saved his life, and have yet to see where his strengths are. Right now he can barely make it up the hill, and I have seen tourists look the same way coming up that hill, so no surprises, really! The trip out to Chontales would be a possible four hour trek, a gradual up the ‘highway’ almost 6 kms, down into the valley another six, and a good climb up the other side another 8 or so kms (~20 kms=~12 miles). We had some work to do and only a couple of weeks to accomplish this before the move.
Our tribe was three horses at that time, so I always rode one and towed another, then switched horses for the ride home – changing order each day we rode (routine is bad in training – as in life, as well). I love riding the horses, even if it is a repeat of a trip (same-o same-o roads) each time, it was awesome to get back on and spend time with them out in the country – my favorite therapy. We were looking forward to having the horses in their new pasture also because the next step would be to organize a ride into the big finca, the property that Alberto had mentioned – riding in would be a requirement to see it. Our best friend was interested in seeing it also, we have dreamed for a long time of finding a property that we could do something with (even if we were ‘only looking’); he also had been a major part in the possible project in Mystic Waters land – the farm over the hill in the next valley. We were all excited about going on another adventure ride, but first it would be he and his wife and me riding the horses to their new pasture, a couple weeks for adjustment and recovery, then off to see the next mystical water farm – with no neighbors interested in controlling things…ahem.
It was truly interesting to watch how life was unfolding…when you have a pretty good idea of what it is that makes you sing and be happy, what stirs your soul, the environment that you feel ‘at home’ in; as well as the skills and wisdom that you have gathered in this lifetime (for me, also gathering wisdom from other lifetimes)…being conscious of this and watching to see what life delivers for you to work with (each of us has gifts to share, right?). Well, all I can say is that 2015 is continuing to be the year of ‘Expect the Unexpected’. The fine tuning required to find the ‘niche’ with the skills and wisdom one has to share, and a very powerful part of this for me is the vision of seeing how good something like what we are dreaming of could be for a lot of people. But people have a way of getting in the way, including of ourselves, of the unfolding of the vision. Whose vision is it anyway? (Oh, I am such an idealist…sigh.)
After drilling the horses (and Mate, the ride on Mystic Mountain was the first time in the saddle for him in a very long time – but he so enjoyed it, and he is now ready to ‘get back in the saddle’) by riding every other day for two weeks, the horses were good to go, all of us in better condition – it would have to be. We would not push them hard, but they would have to make it. Billy and his wife showed up just after light on the chosen Sunday, we were already there brushing and preparing the crew for their journey. Totally necessary for us to get moving early – we left about 6 a.m.- as it gets hot quickly heading up the other side of the big valley in the morning hours of sun, but also to get on our way and done with the paved main road (the first lap) asap, before traffic showed up. As it was, there was plenty of traffic early on, but all went well. I am not thrilled about having to ride that road with the way folks drive around here…not fun and plenty dangerous. However, after we turned on to the gravel road to the Guabo Valley, it was safe…tolerably so. And all downhill for a spell.
The horses were moving out just fine and kept a good jog pace all the way to the river, which was easy to ride across. This river was still relatively ‘shallow’, not like the Rio Division that me and Jesus rode across after our jaunt into the ‘Mystic Mountain’ property over the hill – that river is incredibly fast at this time of year – yet not too deep…deep enough that Jesus (our other compadre on the ride) said I was ‘muy valiente’ for doing it – I guess! Now I was ready for these river crossings, as we had been practicing by crossing the big river Baru in our training sessions. Once the rains were to begin in earnest this would not be possible – the current timing was good to get them to their new pastures. Riding through the village we waved to the folks we saw, as they were early out and about for Sunday activities, and kept on moving to the next river, which was also still easy to ford – faster but not too fast. Fording a river here in CR when the water is up and fast is interesting, can be a ton of fun, and it can just as well be a heart rush. This river ford is narrow, thus deeper, faster – and rockier. Muy pronto we were moving on up the hill and still making good time, it was apparent at this point that it would not take us four hours, which was good, instead we would be there early. No problem, we had brought our breakfast in the truck, which Mate was driving following us behind the horses. It was still very early and we were making excellent time – almost 8a.m. – the sun was blaring on the face of the hill with the long steep road and it was hot, so we had to slow way down; everyone was ready for a break as we reached the upper Rio Angel.
The horses were allowed to rest and water up and we enjoyed our meal sitting on the rocks alongside of the river – which is the same river that migrates through the property we will ride into in a couple of weeks. There was plenty of time to relax before heading out and we could hear a moto coming up the road…it was the family! Alberto with his wife and hija, heading home from the village. So we had the opportunity to visit for a few moments, introduced everyone to each other, then moved on out for the final stretch of the ride.
Just for worthy mention, our house is roughly 400 ft in elevation; Alberto’s place is ~ 2000ft+; the Guabo Valley we just rode through is ~500 ft; and the highway is probably~1200 ft. Steep country, up and down, give me an acre to plow, Lord. Big land tucked into a small country.
When we arrived at Alberto’s house, he was ready with hose and water – we unsaddled the horses and each one had a refreshing bath with water therapy before being turned out into their pasture. And they were quite happy and immediately checked out their new surroundings, while eating along the way. Since we had arrived so early, we talked about the property, and tentative plans for going to see it…actually, we were hoping that we could meet the owner (at the top of the hill in Villa Bonita) to talk shop…and everyone ended up loading up in the truck to get as far as we could get. At the owner’s house we were told that he was working down the road to San Marcos – and since that is the way we were headed, off we went. Isais was ditching the road and throwing rocks off, preparing for the rains, and his horse grazed nearby (good transportation). We stopped and everybody was introduced then he agreed to meet us on the other side of the river on the road out to his property. As we continued down this very steep hill we crossed a few runoff creeks and then the river that runs through the village of San Marcos (which probably has maybe 10 houses and a church that is out of service – solemente. The road continued to go straight up the next hill, connecting with the main road to the Savegre, or we could go right – and then it became a very rough road very quickly – this is the way we were going.
Isaias was already there; we drove until the road became too narrow and there was a washout at a good flowing quebrada (runoff creek). However, everyone chipped in and threw some rocks on the downside making it wider and more stable (ok, remember this is backwoods CR, the ‘land of make-do’) – and with low 4×4 and good precision we made it around and beyond. However, for all of the effort, we did not get too much further, we would have to continue on foot, and of course the word was ‘it’s not much further…’ Yeah, right.
Mate has a very bad knee in need of replacement, as mentioned before, so Isaias let Mate have his horse to ride in and the rest of us walked. It was a beautiful walk, however we never made it to the property entrance, it was just too far on foot, but we were able to see the property as it ‘laid in the land’, which was good enough. We had the opportunity to spend time with all of them asking as many questions as possible, and discussing plans for the upcoming ride in to see it. Yep, this was going to be fun!
Another adventure, no doubt. Little did we know…
We backtracked back to where the horses were and headed down the mountain and back to our starting point of earlier that morning. A cold brew in the cooler and a very good day, with the beginnings of another possibility unfolding before us. We really like this area, this country, this vibe, all of it. I really wanted to live there – somewhere, no matter what. If finding pasture way up here was arranged by the cosmos, then it surely seemed to be a very strong confirmation (in my heart) that this is indeed the direction we were headed – which would be awesome! Always I search for clues in life, listening for messages telling me whatever might behoove me in decisions being made along the way…hopefully being attentive enough to avoid as many mishaps or misteps (like into large piles of you-know-what) along the way. This seemed like a dam good clue, what did the Cosmic Planning Department have in store? Vamos a ver – we shall see.