Today we had planned to go horseback riding at 9 am. We were driven to the Río Piro area, a 20 minute or so (I can't remember how long actually) bumpy and dusty ride. We rode with another couple and their two young daughters in the open back of a 4WD truck with seats along the sides. It enhanced the jungle experience and prepped our behinds for the saddles. We chatted with the family; they were from Long Island. (Actually, it seems that most people who visit Costa Rica are either from Texas or New York/New Jersey.)
Our guide Miguel Sánchez was born and raised on the Osa. Aside from a few English words, he spoke only Spanish. He was extremely personable, however. He understood - or I prayed that he understood - that I wanted an old, slow horse. I got the second slowest horse, Rosilla, as he gave the slowest one, Tranquilo, to the woman who was going to be holding her youngest daughter on her lap.
I'd have liked a bit of instruction in how to ride a horse, but there wasn't any. The dad of the family assured me that it's easy: if you want to stop, pull the reins back. To steer the horse left, pull the reins right and vice versa.
The family was expressing their concern that there were no helmets to wear. Helmets... I didn't even think of that. I was worried about all manner of other things...
about to board Rosilla
Yes, let me say at this point that I'm kinda scared of horses. (Go figure!) They are big. I admire and respect them; they are strong and soulful. I cannot hide my nervousness around them, and of course they pick up on this. I was quite anxious but tried not to think about it, and Rosilla seemed calm.
We rode through the jungle, through shallow river crossings, through mud. Miguel led the way, then it was the dad of the other family, my husband, the mom of the other family, then me. The guys and their faster horses went ahead. Sometimes my horse stumbled a bit, and she had to keep stopping for Tranquilo to eat and drink and do her smelly business along the way.
Neither of us took any pictures going through the jungle, as you had to be careful and duck under the branches and not lose your leg when the horses narrowly went in between trees. Nick later told me that his horse - who sported a mullet - was a jerk, trying to make him hit the branches and trees.
At times, Rosilla just didn't want to step in mud. She'd pause, and I'd think: oh God, she's gonna bolt off into the jungle, and I'll never be found again. But she would either find her own route, avoiding the mud - which meant squeezing through the space between two trees, which was a lot narrower than she was (sorry, honey) - or she reluctantly stepped in the mud and carried on. I can see why she didn't want to go through the mud, though; sometimes I thought she wasn't going to be able to pull her legs out of it.
Then the jungle majestically opened onto the beach...
the only photo I took from my horse
Rosilla seemed to want to go her own way. (Of course, I think I confused her a bit also because I kept forgetting that pulling the reins to the left meant go right.)
like a pro
Then Rosillo started getting antsy and wanted to gallop and gallop she did. (And here again, it enters my mind that she's gonna bolt off down the beach and that will be the end of me.) I'm trying my best to make her slow down, and she did eventually, but she really didn't want to. All the while, my husband is taking pictures of me probably thinking that I'm having a blast while in actuality I'm terrified.
me and Rosilla, Tranquilo in the distance
Finally, we arrived at our destination, got off our horses and Miguel tied them to the trees. We took in the gorgeous view, then ventured towards the tidal pools where lots of little aquatic creatures awaited us.
natural hot tub
Miguel said we could get inside the pools, but we didn't. We just looked for creatures inside them.
And sampled them!
bon appétit! (not really)
Miguel found a sea urchin in one of the tide pools and asked if we wanted to hold it.
video of the sea urchin
We took a few more pictures, then we headed back to our horses and began the trip back, along a different route.
the caravan back
Tranquilo was really taking her time on the way back, so the rest of us gathered at the path head to the jungle and waited, Tranquilo far in the distance. As we are doing this, I'm getting nervous because the horse that Miguel is riding is acting up. Then Rosilla starts moving around, which is making me even more nervous. Miguel tells me to pull back on the reins (or ,rather, shows me what to do) and I think I'm doing it, but what I'm actually doing is backing Rosilla into some trees, which is freaking me - and Rosilla - out. Miguel is telling me how to correct this, how to get her to move forward and then stop - in Spanish - but I don't know enough Spanish. I'm trying to get recommendations from my husband and the dad of the other family, but they have none. So I'm thinking yet again this will be my demise, when finally I do something that seems to work. Phew! Then Tranquilo strolls on up to our group, unaware of the drama that just occurred, and we head back into the jungle, fortunately without incident...
Would I recommend this? Most definitely! Would I do it again? I would, but I would read up on how to ride a horse.
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