Monday, February 7, 2011
and then we came to the end
Since Friday ended up being my last full day in Mar del Plata, I decided I had better go out and do something fun or risk letting the weariness I'd been feeling morph into a full-on funk.
With some minimal instructions from my hotel on how to find the place, I headed in a cab outside the city to a huge park just off the beach to do some horseback riding. When I arrived in the park, there were stables and an arena and horses everywhere but no people. Not one. I wandered around for a while hoping I was not in fact experiencing the rapture at such an inconvenient moment. Finally I saw a woman and her daughter who directed me to someone at the sables who told me the only such place he knew of was all the way across the polo fields. I crossed the field on foot alternately cursing my hotel for not giving me more specific instructions and reveling in the fact that I was traipsing across a giant polo field in a foreign country alone (well not completely alone, one of the ubiquitous stray dogs followed me out there and kept me company).
When I reached the other side of the field the gate was locked but fortunately there was an easily hoppable fence (if that doesn't take you back, nothing will). The white building in questions was surrounded by miniature horses and once again no people.
When at last I found the right place some ways down a long dirt road, it was just a bunch of horses tied to trees, a man called Juan who was about my age and a gaggle of kids who seemed to work there in some capacity.
'Hi," I said to Juan, the only grown up in the bunch, 'Can I ride horses here?' "Of course,' he said, 'do you know how to ride?' Interesting question, that. I know how to ride about as well as I speak Spanish right now which is to say, more or less, depending on the day. I realized as I steadied my feet in the stirrups that I hadn't actually been on a horse in nine years (which didn't go so well). Huh. Well.
There was one really tall beautiful horse who whinnied at me and rolled his eyes back as I approached. This turned out to be the horse that Juan rode, it was only the second time he'd been ridden he told me, he didn't even have a name yet. How sad, I said, and wished my Spanish was good enough to make a horse-with-no-name joke. Juan rode with me and we made a couple of laps around the large park, it was a beautiful day sunny but not too hot. I told him about my grandmother who raised Arabians.
My horse's name was Carlito (I mean how can you not have confidence in a horse who shares a name with an infamous fictional drug lord?) and though he had an uneven gait, he was a steady ride. I'd forgotten quite what it felt like to ride a horse across a wide open field and soon enough my nerves had abated and I remembered why I'd loved it so much growing up.
I'm still a little saddle sore three days later, which is unfortunate because I am about to get on a plane for a unmentionable number of hours. I feel sad and happy all at once: so ready to get home and yet not at all ready to leave. I'm beyond exhausted as my final weekend in Buenos Aires couldn't have been much more epic without causing some sort of international incident. I spent most of it with Julianna who I said goodbye to today; she's promised to come visit me in Seattle (and not a vacation promise either, she assures me).
Julianna will be heading back to Brazil on Wednesday, she told me she that she feels like she is leaving with a lighter spirt and a fuller heart. Does that make sense in English? She asked me. It does, I told her and I couldn't have said it better myself.