Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 2: Monday, November 21, 2011: Garriguela:

         Got up for a delicious breakfast at nine o’clock this morning in order to be ready to ride by ten. Breakfast was self serve with tons of options to choose from, cereal, bread and a toaster to toast it in, a big cheesecake like cake, biscotti (which were wrapped up like in the U.S. but were soft here rather than hard and crunchy,) yogurts and croissants. There was jam to spread on it all, including strawberry, orange and peach, which had actual pieces of peach in it. There was also a plate of cheese and meats, cold cuts rather than hot sausages or bacon.  There was also a pitcher of delicious orange juice as well as coffee. Our guide arrived at around ten once we were all dressed to ride and we headed out to meet the horses. (Though she gave us the option of skipping the riding today and visiting a museum instead as the weather was supposed to continue being rainy, we all opted to ride anyway.) We had to take a short van ride out of the city to where the horses staid for the night, which gave us a chance to see the town in the daylight. All the houses are built very close together with streets barely wide enough for our van let alone two cars, interestingly the houses were pretty much all concrete with stucco outsides, and were painted yellows and oranges making the whole picture much brighter than any American town. The horses staid a little bit outside of town, and when we arrived they were all tied along a wall with a trough in front of them for water. We each were introduced to our horses, I got Marrico, who is a little bay pony who likes to go very fast, so Denise told me I shouldn’t be afraid to pull very hard! Bri is riding a bigger horse named Ufano who is grey. We brushed as much of the mud of as we could though they were all wet from being out in the rain all night so we did the best we could so they would by comfortable with their saddles. Then we learned how to tack them up, they each get two saddle pads and their own saddle and bridle. The saddles are very big and heavy, almost like western saddles, though they are quite comfy for longer rides. Each horse also has saddlebags as well, inside the saddle bags are their brushes, a little foam pad to sit on at picnics and a little bag with some extra shoes sized for them inside. We can also put anything in the saddlebags that we want to take with us while we ride. Each horse has its own bridle as well, they are just the bit, crown piece, that goes over their head and behind their ears, and throat latch. They also keep their halters on while we ride so that when we get to where we stop they can wear their halters to be tied up to something. Once everyone was tacked up we set off on foot first, hiking up a dirt road, and avoiding puddles and the little rivers running down. When we got to a flat section a couple minutes later we all stopped, checked girths and then mounted up. Once everyone was on and Denise had checked everyone’s girth and tack we headed off. We rode onward up the road and up the hills. We passed tons of big fields with grape bushes, though nothing is growing at right now, in fact the leaves are a pretty orange and yellow almost like fall here in Virginia. Though up until this point the rain had been no more than a drizzle all of a sudden the skies just opened up and it began to pour. Despite our rain jackets we were all soaked within minutes, though considering it was so warm once we were wet it was ok (the trickling water down our backs when we were still dry was the uncomfortable part!) we continued to ride upwards and when we reached the top we would have gotten a view of the sea where we will ride on Friday but it was so cloudy that we couldn’t really see that far. The roads that we were ridding along were little more than tracks, or very rough dirt roads, however right at the top of the hill that we had been climbing we came upon a jeep, which seemed crazy considering the fact that it felt like we were on top of a mountain! We came down and met up with some considerable rivers, including a road that we hiked up where water was rushing down, it felt like we were climbing up a waterfall! We rode through part of the town of Garriguela, past the old church and on narrow roads until we came out at the other side leading to our starting point where we left the horses for the night. Once we got back, we dismounted and un-tacked, stowing our tack in a small horse trailer so it wouldn’t get wet (or wetter anyway.) Once the horses had had a little brush we climbed back into the van to head back to the inn. When we arrived we had an hour or so until lunch (which was to be around 2:30) enough time to get warm and dry again. For lunch we had salad with tomatoes, sliced apples and oranges, seeds, carrots and cheese topped with balsamic vinegar and local olive oil. There were also platters of cheese and meats to go with the bread and oil that seems to be a staple for every meal. This afternoon we decided to walk down the road five minutes to the local market. It is also a winery where all the local farmers bring their grapes to press into wine and the olives to make oil, like a co-op. This is apparently a typical arrangement for small towns in Catalonia as it is an easy way to make wine and oil affordably for smaller growers. Once back we had several hours for dinner, which was served traditionally late, around eight. We had pumpkin soup, a dish of egg, cheese and potatoes, spinach and fish with potatoes, and chocolate cake for dessert. By this time we were quite tired and therefore headed to bed early in order to get enough sleep for tomorrow!

The horses tied up and waiting for us!

Bri and her pony, Ufano

Me and my horse Marrico, on the left, and another horse on the right.

Us heading up the road, before mounting up!

Where we would have been able to see the sea if not for the rain.

The river that we walked through!

No comments:

Post a Comment