Santa Ana, El Salvador : 7th August 2003

The Endurance Riders in San Salvador who had invited Miss M for dinner had also offered their help to get us to the Guatemalan border in the best way and suggested that they ride with Miss M for a day or two through farms and small little roads.


We were all delighted with this arrangement because we were starting to get a bit weary of all the tarmac riding and trucks and buses brushing past us far closer than what we would consider as comfortable (and safe). So on the morning of our departure out of San Salvador, Miss M said her goodbyes to the Palomo family and went with Felipe and Carlos to the stables. On arrival, Miss M was pleased to see that the lads were already grooming and getting us ready for our days journey. A few pictures were taken and around 9:30am we were on our way. Taken the distance we were to do that day (about 47km) into account, Miss M, Mise and I were quite concerned about time and were we on our own, we would have done already 15km by this time! But we kept quiet and decided just to go with the flow for the day.

 

After the first farm gate we went through, we encountered a mean looking stallion who had his eye on Mise straight away. He had a very long mane and an “I mean business” look in his eye and Miss M rushed past him with some speed – I first thought he was after me (these days you can never be sure) but yer man headed straight for the other stallion in our group. They came head to head in a very aggressive way and made these awful combat-like noises, snorting and scraping their forefeet on the ground….and then nothing! All bark and no bite is what Mise said afterwards with a disenchanted grunt.

The whole group (there were about 5 other riders) had to come to a halt a number of times in the beginning as the pack just didn’t sit right on Mise and Miss M had to fix it every time. There is only one little (secret) spot that makes the pack stay put and sometimes easier said than done to find this sometimes elusive “zone”. The great thing though was that we were off the beaten track and it made all the difference. In some parts the road surface was quite rocky and the route up-and-downhill but we had nothing to complain about with nice company, the sun shining gently down on us and a pleasant breeze. We also rode past the weekend-retreat of the current El Salvadorian President and the lads indicated that he would have joined us was he there at the current time. Probably with a bodyguard or two in tow I thought by myself… imagine that!!

Miss M, Mise and I were very pleased to see that both Felipe and Carlos made a point of walking (on the ground) with their horses at times, especially when going downhill. It is also a good opportunity for the riders to give their legs some exercise. We really wish more people would get into this habit as it gives us horses a good break and it’s less strenuous on the limbs and joints. We have witnessed some serious brutality during our journey where people would stay on their horses while going over rocks on very steep down-hills. They just don’t realize the damage…and in our opinion – neither do they seem to really care.

Lunch was around 2pm on a farming village and we were dismayed at all the rubbish and dirt lying on the ground. The farm was seized many years ago by the government and it was very apparent not the better for it.
Around 4 pm we came out of the mountains and onto the main tarmac road. We had still a bit of a distance to do though and it seemed unlikely that we would make it before darkness fell. A short while later, our fate for the day was decided though when a television station from San Salvador arrived to do some footage of Mise, Miss M and I. The Endurance lads were told to wait in the front for us and for the next hour we had to say “whiskey” more times than we could have cared for while the cameraman struggled with the remaining light.

It was almost dark when the filming finished and our companions who were patiently waiting, informed us that a trailer will take all of us for the remaining few kilometers to our destination in Santa Ana. It was relief all around as the clouds had already begin to gather and just after we got loaded, the rain started to pour down. Our host for the night was the hospitable Dr Reina. A real gentleman. He ordered Pizza’s and beer for the party and also gave up his bed for the night so that Miss M could have a comfortable rest.

So on this snoozy note I will sign off folks.
Mise will have the opportunity to report from Guatemala next. Ciao!!

 


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