Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gringos in Mexico - A Horse, A Horse, and other wild life

This trip to Mexico was bursting with firsts for me. Yes it was Gary's first trip to Mexico and my third, but I think I may have had more "firsts" than him, as odd as that sounds and as mundane as some of my firsts may be.

Gary's totally 'old-hand' with the horse thing,
which is good because his horse was not quite as docile as mine

I believe this horse was named El Muerte... I could just be making that up.

I seem to find more courage in Mexico than at home. Maybe it's the calming influence of the warm weather and soothing sounds of the ocean waves. Maybe it's the people who are so sweet and warm. Who knows why? But in Mexico I do seem to feel more courage to try something new, or something that has been a fear or stumbling block for me in the past. Like swimming with dolphins on my last trip - before I learned to swim. First #1 this trip. Learning to swim. And learning to float.

Another first was riding a horse. That was a goal I'd given myself at least 3 years ago! I meant to try it on my previous trips to Mexico, but never did. Mostly because it was more of a goal than a deep-seated desire. I love animals, for sure, but I was just never one of those girls who got into horses. Gary really wanted to do it, his whole family grew up riding so for him it was just a fun thing he liked to do and he really wanted to do it here, where you could ride on the beautiful Carribean coastline. And who could blame him?

For me it was a little more like. . . "ACK! Horse. High. Horse. Run Fast. Joy not go on big fast running horsie!"

Horseback riding was of those things that sounded good in theory but when confronted with GIANT HORSE I really started to re-think. But we planned to do it, as much as we 'planned' to do anything other than nap frequently on this trip, so I was determined to do it. And really, the horse I was on, named Palomino, I know, I know, kind of like naming a dog "poodle" was as docile and short as a horse could be and still be called a horse not a large dog. So it was okay. . . once I got up there that is.
The Fierce and Mighty Palomino!!

We scheduled our ride for Friday evening - the sun was lower, the temperature better. I couldn't have ridden a horse on the beach in the blazing sun that would have been horrible for the horse! Happily the people who run the horse riding out of Lafitte wouldn't have allowed such a thing either. They really care for the animals in their charge. As we were to find out on our ride.

At the start of the ride I asked Fernando, who was taking us out, where the burro was. The Lafitte burro was something I adored. Hearing her braying at the crack of dawn or as she ran along the beach doing her stint as 'burrito bar' wearing a pirate hat and a pack full of drinks, was a sound that was "Mexico" to me. When I hadn't heard her, or seen her, I was compelled to ask her whereabouts. Fernando told me she was at the new location, and happy. I think my interest in the burro is what prompted our detour on our ride.

We rode for about a half hour and then turned up the beach and went into a wooded area. I thought we were stopping to water the horses, which seemed sensible. And they did in fact water them once we dismounted (which in my case really means, practically fell off the horse) but it seemed the real reason for our impromptu stop was to visit the start of the new hotel's animal preserve. What a treat! These are shots of just some of the critters we got to meet. All of them friendly and adorable and clearly very well cared for. Not a one of them was afraid of people in the least.

C'mon people, these are baby miniature boars!!!! On first sighting I thought they were capybaras, but oh I was sorely mistaken. If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you'll be able to see the tiny start of his little bitty tusks. Also note that it looks like he's smiling. His name is Chico. Again, I know. I know.
These are the perpetually shocked looking and slightly effeminate ostriches
these huge birds had an "oh no he didn't" look at all times and ran around their corral like heavy footed drag queens late for the Pride parade. We soon found out why they had that "oh no he didn't" look. Out of nowhere Fernando grabbed a couple of feathers and plucked them out - then handed them to ME! Oddly enough it was we who got the dirty looks from the birds, not him. But it would appear this is a fairly regular occurrence and they did not shy away from him after so it seems not to have hurt anything but their pride. Gary and I were pretty much - "NOOOOO Don't DOOOO that!" Fernando was pretty much "silly Gringos". You will see the purloined feathers briefly in the video below. Blow up the picture above and you'll be able to see that Fernando has one of the ostriches in a noogie headlock. When he let her go she came back and nuzzled him in a 'do it again' way. A riot! I mean aren't ostriches usually a little fiercer than that? Hmmmm.

And while Fernando wrestled with them in a playful manner, "noogie time!" they kept coming back for more so clearly they like playing with him.
Can anyone explain why the nail polish is ALWAYS red, even on a beach vacation?
This is my "they like me, they really like me" pose after Fernando plucked something else for me: a beautiful wild hibiscus. *sigh* I do love getting flowers. I would like to point out here that this is me WITH a tan. No I am not being facetious. It's hard to tell because I sort of look like a living person instead of a corpse, which doesn't necessarily mean 'tan' so much as it means I'm exhibiting a blood flow. But I swear I'm maybe 6 shades darker than usual here and have the tan lines to prove it. I'm just sayin'.
Fernando took my camera and snapped these shots of the peacocks for us because they were not too keen on strangers. Well. Excuse me, Mr. Haughty with the fancy feathers!
Fernando ran to the other side of their pen and they followed him and posed. This is an entire family of peacocks. Mom, Dad and babies. It's understandable that they are so proud, who wouldn't be wearing that gorgeous shade of blue all the time?
The sweetest creatures ever. The miniature deer. They were licking all of our hands, it was like having a little time with my Basil (he's a big licker).
Since I had sunblock on I didn't let them lick my hands more than a quick "hello" because really, sunblock is simply not edible. However they were all over Gary - he must've been tasting mighty sweet! Fernando explained that they were all bottle-fed which is why they were so fearless and friendly. This is one of the babies, we met Daddy-deer later, he stays in another area.

You will hear many examples of my tremendous command of Spanish here, such as "Hola, baby!" Yes. Those classes stuck alright, I'm a linguistic genius. Honest, someone get me a job as a translator at the U.N.

Our one hour horseback ride became an hour and a half because of our meet-the-critters detour which meant we missed the start of the Mariachi show. Luckily we were back in time to catch about 30 minutes of it. I would hate to miss a Mariachi show!!! You know I love my trumpets!!
The dancers usually do two sets, with full costume changes. We missed the first set but the second was great and you can see some of it here!

The sun was just starting its descent, so the colors and the lighting were kinda awesome towards the end.

The sun went down, the Mariachis said buenos noches and we went to dinner. A pretty full day in paradise.

Next installment: Tulum and a quick trip to a cenote!


Salty Miss Jill said...

That sounded like a perfect day. :)

Love the animal pictures, too! I took a million at the Barcelona Zoo last month...and my guy made fun of me. In a sweet way, of course...

Joy said...

Miss Jill, isn't it hard to stop taking snapshots? I always feel I'm going to miss THE PICTURE so I just keep snapping! :)

Gary said...

Joy, I LOVE the movie you created, especially the taglines and commentary! Well done my friend.