Sunday, 4 June 2017

Mission just about possible

Sometimes it feels like I'm Indiana Jones, on a mission that is a constant search. Picking up clues wherever you can find them and all against the clock.
I guess that feeling will pass as we realise survival regularly on the road.
We have been in paradise again for the last few days, but let's go back a bit first.
After Ferreira we rode to Calahonda,  on our map it's called Cacalahonda which is more apt.
We weren't planning to stay there but as we passed through, we came upon a tethered stallion, very handsome, so I don't blame her wanting to show off, but when she started strutting her stuff, Mark lost hold on her lead rope, (it happens).
The huge ungainly pack on her back didn't stop her doing a perfect extended trot with suspended elevation, tail pointing straight up.
This performance was executed in a large field of wheat ready for cropping.
The worst happened, the pack began listing and with every stride fell further to one side, things were flying out in all directions, then she galloped full pelt! By now Tio was trying to join in and Mark was nearly unseated.
I was off by this point and making calming woah noises which I'm sure couldn't be heard, but I knew she would  stop, she has sense and she isn't one to panic. The pack was under her belly as she came to a halt.
I undid the girth and with my handy penknife I cut the belly strap from which the whole lot was hanging.
Amazingly nobody else seemed to have noticed the fiasco, even though the field was a big open area like a stage for all to see!
We picked up some of the debris and put her all back together again.
This might not have happened if the girth was tighter, which we will have to do..
Being on evening alert already, we had spotted a couple of possible camping areas, so we went back to have a look. We spoke to some old boys about a grassy area we had noticed and they said it would probably be ok but told me where to find and ask the owner, he wasn't home, but a neighbour too told me it would be fine, so we unpacked and settled in.
Just as we were relaxing and darkness was setting in, a voice out of nowhere with a big dog alongside came marching into camp, this man wasn't very agreeable and charged us 50e for the night! 
He had us over a barrell, we had to pay.
Jeez, we suggested a bed, shower and breakfast ought to be included in that price, but he said he'd call the guardia, so hey ho, lesson​ learnt.
Next day we  packed and set off fairly promptly, we had to search the field for the rest of our belongings on the way and we found everything bar the benzl benzoate (for Tio's sweetitch). 
So on we went towards Charches,  crossing a huge windy plain full of windmills and the largest thermo solar park in Europe.. It was incredibly windy but that effectively cooled the sun.
Soon we came upon our third horsey hazzard!
We passed a farm with a tethered donkey and a loose horse. Well, any horse prefers horse company and the mare (thankfully) followed us the whole 10 kilometres to town.
You might think we could have returned her and tied her up but a) You expect her to turn for home herself at a certain point, and b) Having obviously passed this certain point its a long way back,  and c) She had no halter,  and d) We have 3 horses already between us and Mark cant walk.
In Chartres we caused a stir, everyone was lovely bar the owner of the mare who gave us hell.
We had a couple of beers, chatted to the locals and were given directions on route for a place where we could stay the night.
Cortijo la fragua was 5k up the mountain track and provided us with a fenced in grassy garden with picnic tables and chairs, water points and a beautiful big covered terrace to camp in - not to mention a massive pool with a natural shower beside it!
We decided it would take more than one night for the horses to clean up the area, so settled in to paradise number 3.
Onward a few days later, us cleaner, the horses fatter, all refreshed.
A long hard days ride, strike that.
Arriving on the edge of Baza at dusk, no sign of grass or water.
We have no food either and its Sunday.
AND Mark had no fags!!!!
You can imagine how pleasant things were.
We passed a shepherd with his goat herd and I thought to ask him something, didn't, regretted it, then got a second chance.
I spotted a massive pile of new forage up a side road, asked around and was directed to the returning shepherd and said goats.
He was our saviour, sold us forage,  gave us water and we set up camp on a (nasty) bit of scrubland nearby.
Settled the horses and made it to a bar restaurant for dinner (and fags!).
In the morning we made for a quick departure but it still got really hot before we were ready, I had a minor breakdown saying I couldn't  go on, but after smoking a fag myself I felt much better, sorry family and friends, I have finally blown it. A holiday perk, just until the wedding, night, honeymoon, return trip...until Im home & thats it.
Cheerfully riding on and puffing away we had to do the first part of this leg through town. Rayo the brave heading the convoy, high viz's on.
We had an important shopping list to accomplish and not alot of time, this was when I had the Indiana Jones feeling, bear in mind Mark still can't walk, so I have to find and bring everything (This includes water for horses & last nights hay, which I put on Rayo's back).
Finding the right shops in a new town knowing legless Mark is minding 3 horses on a street corner is stressy.
Mission accomplished, we're on our way again.
Mark promises a lake, grass, a bar and hot springs at our next stop and though it was a long ride, mostly tarmac, he was spot on,  here we rested at paradise 4.
After making a huge electric fence paddock we took the horses down to the lake where they wallowed like hippos..
I got on Rayo bareback and he strode into the water and when the ground ran out he began to swim!!  Something I've always wanted to do,  it was beautiful, he seemed to take huge strides lunging upwards and forwards, rising and sinking into the water.. Another special moment with my horse, Ok, you can walk a dog etc,  but when you're on a horse and doing something really together,  sharing the same experience, its wonderful, like when we're galloping full speed.
I know Rayo has been in the sea before and it was like, he showed me, and he gave me the joy.
We had a lovely few days, basking in shade, eating in the restaurant & drinking G & T. (that bit was with Mark by the way!).
Well, that was a long'un! I wanted to catch us up to the present so I can write more 'in the moment'.
I also want to put more than two photos but it doesn't seem possible on here, so I'll be sending extras to go on our facebook page.
Ciao fa now..


  1. Oh my lovelies, what an adventure you are having. Good job you have excellent Spanish Nicks, sorting camp sites and dealing with irate locals. €50, for a grass b&b, he was a bandito!
    Loved the swimming shots, more pictures please.

  2. Thank you so much for your updates. Cheeky sod charging you €50 without breakfast and Mark not having cigs... errrm not good. Lol glad alls going great and by god what an amazing memorable adventure. Hugs sent right atcha. Xxxx

  3. Loving reading this! About as far from my life and it's stresses but I can really feel your challenges and joys. Xxx

  4. Wow, I am actually quite envious. But really don't know if I would be as brave as you two. Good luck to you all and thanks for the great reading xxx

  5. All the best from Jody in Portugal, brill descriptions swimming etc so fab :-)

  6. Hello folks,
    Glad all going good and you're enjoying yourselves (most of the time). Mark still not walking ?! Not good but hopefully on the mend, as it would seem is Romero. A lot more mobility and a lot less limping. Keep it coming. All love to all five of you from us xxx

  7. We are just loving your blogs & look forward to each instalment. So full of admiration for you both ...such bravery. Your pictures are heart warming & we anticipate a great book of your adventure one day!
    Take care both of you & give your trusty four legged friends a hug from us.
    Sending all our love & kisses Uncle Malc & Aunt Stella xxxx

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  9. Take care both of you & give your trusty four legged friends a hug from us.

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