Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buenos soleil!!

I am happy to report that we survived days Two and Three of our equestrian trek without a single droplet of rain. Tuesday was a shorter day of riding, and though the weather was a bit cooler and moody, we had ample sunshine to light our way as we wound our horses through acres of golden apple orchards and dense olive groves. We passed a delightful assortment of wild fruit trees on the journey, and saw both pomegranates and figs hanging ripe and ready for picking. Our day ended out with a long stretch of canter alongside a magnificent wheat field, with the wind whipping our faces and bending the amber waves.

Day Three, today, was an aggressive day of riding and I anticipate feeling the effects in my hindquarters well into the weekend. We were richly rewarded, however, for our perseverance through Monday's wind and rain, as today's trek took us from the base of Mont Gris and up through glimmering pine forests, with views of the ocean below us and glimpses of the coastal town of L'Estratit, whose brightly colored and richly appointed summer homes overlook a huge swath of Mediterranean Sea.

Our horses climbed for a good hour, and once atop the mountain we rode through a nature preserve and out into very arid, rocky flatland, dotted with cacti and olive bushes. The sun blazed overhead but the breezes off the Mediterranean below were plentiful and kept the region perfectly temperate. It was here that we experienced one of the true highlights of the trip, a picnic lunch on top of a hidden rock outcropping, that revealed an almost unbelievable vista of the Mediterranean Sea. The water, almost too blue to be real, shined and shimmered as we munched on tuna and cheese sandwiches, dried nuts, and of course loads of Spanish olives. We paused after lunch to take brief siestas beneath the olive bushes shading the cliff, and I found it almost painful to think of leaving such a pristinely beautiful place to head back to the crush of New York City.

But leave we did, and wound our way back down the mountain until we hit a beautiful open ridge. We galloped almost the full length of the ridge, delighting in the sheer exhilarating speed and strength of our Spanish steeds. I couldn't help the smile that spread over my face as we truly felt as wild and free as our horses. "Though shalt fly without wings," was God's legendary command to the horse, and on top of Mont Gris we all did just that.That experience, of riding my horse with the wind in my face, the sun at my back, and the mountain dropping away on both sides into wide, tree covered ravines, was one of the high points of my entire life.

After our ridge gallop we entered into dense forests of both pine and deciduous trees, and I took deep breaths of the open mountain air and watched the Spanish sun sparkle through the canopy. Amongst those trees I felt completely at one with the natural world, a feeling I am kept almost entirely away from by my city bound existence. That my spirit sang as we stamped down those trails, and bent low beneath pine branches, forced me to philosophize on whether I am truly meant to be a city dweller.

We spent the rest of our day mostly on the flat as we approached the town of l'Escala. L'Escala's charming coastal houses were all painted bright colors, from pink and peach, to yellow, gold, and even royal blue. After quite literally riding through the center of town, and eliciting some wide eyed stares from attendant children, we finished our day by crossing wide fields at a canter and climbing several rolling hills.

At the trail's end we found waiting a beautiful Spanish manor house, to which we happily retired after bedding down our hardworking ponies for the night. Today's ride required a lot of muscle power and energy to keep up over the long distances, and both me and my horse Senega will likely sleep well. Assuming I can peel out of bed for tomorrow's six am wake up call, a beach gallop awaits, and I will finally get to realize a life long dream.

But more on that tomorrow. Buenos noches!!

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