I’ve decided to venture off a little bit and talk about myself instead of my writing. I’m going to tell the story about my experience with Pedro the Horse. That isn’t actually his name. I can’t remember what he was called. But it’s how I will always remember him, based on an inside joke that I won’t get into here. No one aside from myself and a few others would find it all that funny, anyway.
So, Pedro…oh, Pedro…
At the beginning of the year, I went to Peru. It was my way of stepping away from the book I wrote to gain some perspective on it. I was there for two months.
One afternoon, a group of people from the school where I was studying Spanish (I thought it would be fun to learn Spanish and did so for 3 weeks in the city of Cuzco) wanted to go see Sacsayhuaman. I didn’t know much about it at the time aside from the fact that it was an Incan site. They had taken huge boulders from the sides of the mountains, cut them perfectly, and fit them together to make a massive fortress. It was definitely something that I wanted to see.
On the way there, plans changed.
We ran into two men who wanted us to go horseback riding with them (for a fee, of course). They told us that we could see most of the fortress and the surrounding area along the trail. I think that my group was more excited about riding a horse than seeing anything else. I was, too. We all agreed to it.
We met the men at the top of the hill where our horses were waiting for us. I, in my wisdom and in an attempt to be funny, said that I wanted the best horse. “Mujer caballo!” I shouted. “Yo quiero mujer caballo!”
Unfortunately, “mujer” means woman, not best. I should have said “mejor”. But I had only been studying for 3 weeks, so I can’t get too mad at myself for that mistake.
The horse trainers didn’t think that I had made a mistake, though. They thought that I was frightened of riding on the back of a horse and wanted a calm one. “Tranquilo!” they shouted back to me. “Tranquilo!”
They led me over to the most timid looking horse of the bunch. It looked a bit frighted of me. There was something else in it’s eyes, too. Something I’d find out about soon enough.
I got onto my horse. We all did. Then we were on our way.
Starting out, everything was fine. My horse stayed up at the front, the others followed behind. But, before long, I knew that there was a problem. My horse didn’t just stay up front, it did everything it could to keep from being in the back. When the other horses came up beside us, it would charge forward. Once or twice we went off of the trail, which made us fall back further in the line. As soon as there was an opening, he’d run again to catch up with the group and try to pass them.
At one time, Pedro came up beside another horse and started to race it. Both my friend on the other horse and I had no idea what was happening. We simply held on to the reigns and prayed that we didn’t fall off.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a horse that gallops before, but it isn’t as easy as it might look. Especially if you aren’t prepared for it. I bounced uncontrollably up and down. I could barely see where I was going. One of my feet came out of the stirrups.
We only came to a stop when we reached the other horses. Unfortunately, Pedro wasn’t satisfied with that. He huffed and whinnied at the other horse until the guide caught up with us and threatened to snap his twig on Pedro’s behind.
We all got off of our horses and walked around for a bit, then. We saw some of the ruins, heard a bit about the history. We took some time to relax
When we were asked to get back on to our horses, my friend didn’t want to get on hers. She didn’t feel comfortable after the race that her and I had just run. She didn’t trust her horse. One of the guys from our group offered to trade with her.
“You’ll have to hold on,” I told him. “I don’t think our horses like each other.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said. And he was.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t.
Pedro marched along beside the other horses and tried to get back up to the front. None of them would let him. He pushed forward, they pushed back. At one time he was pushed off of the trail and ended up on the side of a huge hill.
“Where are you going?” my guide called to me. As if I had anything to do with where Pedro was going! “Come back!”
Pedro didn’t come back. He kept marching up the side of the hill. I saw the other riders turn a corner and disappear out of sight. The guide was still behind me. Pedro had picked up his pace.
“Where are you going?”
I was about to shout over my shoulder that I had no idea where I was going when at that exact moment I figured out the answer to his question. I could see that Pedro was going to cut over the top of the hill and meet the other horses on the other side. I think it was his attempt at cutting them off and getting to the front of the line. The problem was that there was a huge drop-off on the other side of the hill.
Pedro marched toward it. I could feel him thinking about what he was going to do. He wanted to beat the other horses. But, there was that drop-off!
He kept moving forward. He kept thinking.
Then, he charged.
There wasn’t much that I could do other than hold on. I suppose that I could have jumped from his back. But, jumping off of him seemed worse than holding on. I leaned forward, tried to bend my knees, and prepared for what was about to happen.
“Come back!” the guide shouted again.
I watched as Pedro raced toward the ledge. He came upon it quickly. Then, I felt him push on to his hind legs to propel him forward. I saw the ground drop from underneath us. The wind pressed against my face as we flew through the air. I felt like I was a wild cowboy in some Western movie.
Luckily, we landed without a problem. Except that the horses had already passed us and Pedro’s plan hadn’t worked.
The guide caught up with us. “What are you doing?” he asked.
I turned to look at him. “I thought you said this horse was tranquilo?!” He didn’t understand. “No, tranquilo caballo. Es muy loco caballo.” This horse is crazy!
I had no idea if my Spanish was right. I didn’t care if it was, either. Pedro kept walking.
To be honest, I wasn’t all that upset that Pedro had jumped off the side of a hill. We had both survived and I had a great experience and story to tell. Once I caught up with the others they were the first I told, but I don’t think they believed me. No problem. This was something Pedro and I had done together. It was meant to be between us.
I often think about Pedro and wonder if he’s getting along better with the other horses. For some reason, I don’t think that he is. But a big part of me hopes that he had just been having an off day and everything is back to normal for him.
Good old Pedro. Thanks for such a beautiful (and eventful) ride!