Sunday, July 5, 2009

Trekforce, Take 2

The first three Trekforcers, Jo, Lucie, and Roseann, had such a good time that they referred five of their fellow Trekforcers to come stay with us the next weekend and go for a horseback ride. Tom picked up Emily, Tanya, Flora, Aaron, and Stuart in San Ignacio last Saturday when he picked up our other guests from Nevada, and brought the whole truckload out for the night. We all ate dinner together, then everybody went to bed so we could get an early start on our well-planned day the next morning.

Unfortunately, making good plans isn’t always enough. Our other guests were scheduled to go to Caracol with a guide we’d contracted so that Tom and I could both go riding with the Trekforce people. The plan was for both of us to ride up to Big Rock with the group, then I was going to immediately turn around and take the quick route home so I could get everything done around here that needs to be done when we’re housing eight guests. We had the Caracol group ready to go, and were just about ready to start saddling and packing the horses. However, when the Caracol guide (not Selwyn, who we couldn’t use because we needed a driver, and not Gonzo, who was out of town) hadn’t shown up an hour after the scheduled pickup time, and when our guests had only about 20 minutes to make the half hour drive to meet the convoy, Tom and I did a quick replan. I threw the lunches I had packed for the riders into a cooler for the Caracol group, Tom grabbed the car keys, and Tom became the Caracol taxi for the day. They hit the road at about 9:15, and I started making lunches to replace the lunches on the way to Caracol.

I left a mess in the kitchen, but I made enough lunches for the six of us, finished tacking up the horses, got everything packed, got appropriate riders up on appropriate horses, and we hit the trail – about an hour and a half later than planned, but nobody seemed to care and with the long days right now it ended up not even mattering. We had a great ride up to Big Rock, and although the day wasn’t as hot and sunny as the first group had had a week before, it was declared perfect riding weather by everybody. We had a lot of rain that week, so the Falls were much bigger than they’d been the previous week as well and didn’t offer as many good jumping-off spots, but everybody had a good time and all were happy to hang out on the rocks. Finally, at a little after four, I regretfully broke up the party and hiked back up the trail to get the horses for our return ride home, which also went smoothly. As we had on the way up, we walked on the narrow trails, and had a couple of good gallops on some of the open fire roads.

Stuart almost lost his head on a low hanging vine, but the vine moved before Stuart’s head popped off. And, I think I may have terrified Aaron, who was riding Ness. We’d noticed the week before that Ness acts like she wants to roll in the water, but April, who has been riding for a long time, just pulled her head up and kicked her out of the water. Aaron has only been on a horse a handful of times and is very gentle, so when Ness looked like she wanted to roll and I told him to pick her head up and kick her, he did it very tactfully…a little too tactfully, since Ness was showing all signs of totally ignoring him and rolling anyway. So, I buzzed in on Glinda and started running around Ness, kicking her in the rump and the shoulder with the toe of my boot, and yelling instructions at Aaron. Really yelling, and in fact I sort of scared myself because I heard my old coach and friend Karin’s voice coming out of my mouth telling Aaron to “Kick her! No, really kick her! And yank her head up! Pull her nose right around to your knee! And KICK!” The nose around to the knee trick finally worked because it put Ness enough off balance that she couldn’t lay down, and then Ness finally got moving enough in a small circle that Aaron was able to keep her moving out of the water, which was no easy task since by that time Ness was also thinking that kicking the very annoying Glinda might be almost as much fun as rolling in the water. But, we all got out of the water wet from splashing but not soaked from rolling, and had a good laugh before we galloped up the trail.

We rode into the driveway right around 5:30, and I was relieved to hear the small generator running, which meant that Tom beat us home – a good thing, since he got a head start of the very messy kitchen, and had settled our other guests with drinks and snacks. We took care of all the horses, and then Tom left to drive the Trekforce group back to town and I made a hurry-up dinner which I managed to serve before 8:00, although Tom wasn’t yet back to join us at the beginning of the meal.

We learned with this group that it’s VERY rewarding to host people who have been roughing it out in the jungle for a good part of the past five months. Despite the fact that five of them shared a room, their trail ride left late, their lunch was a quick re-cook, and the weather and the Falls weren’t as sunny and perfect as the week before, everyone was happy and did nothing but rave about how nice it was to sleep in a proper bed, get a proper hot shower, eat real food, drink real tea (they’re British), and be just a little bit pampered in that somebody else made their meals and their beds. They left us a stellar review on TripAdvisor – so nice that we’re worried nobody will think it’s for real – and all promised to stop by and see us when they get back to Belize.

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