Nearly a month now down the aisle and it's mostly heaven and sometimes hell.
It also comes highly recommended as a positive impact physiotherapy program for an ex broken leg.
Heaven is being on horseback pretty much everyday, it's being as free as you could be, it's the countryside & the lovely people we encounter along the way. It's Mark cooking, us laughing, a cold beer after a day in the sun, it's just looking at the horses & knowing they're fine. It's heavenly finding a perfect night spot & finally getting into our cosy bed, we've come to love our tiny tent and food tastes glorious because we're so hungry!
We've had little or no problems camping each night, if it's near a town, almost everybody is welcoming & helpful.
Kids flock around the horses, we often reach a town at 2, just missing the shops - doh! but catching the kids coming out of school to rings of 'Caballo Caballo!' People want to take pictures of them beside the horses, sometimes we sit kids on top, but often we want to save the horses & don't offer.
Kids are great! They will hang around & be honoured to fill the horses water containers from the fuente, delight in just touching them & in awe of their size, feeling proud to have come so close. Strange how in some of these very rural areas there are hardly any horses and often the kids have never touched one.
Heaven is the simple way of life.. as in things like this, now sitting under the bridge in the shade by the river for the horses to graze and drink, chatting to passers by, improving my spanish no end!
Some of our night spots are so perfect, you feel like it's a miracle, there has to be water nearby for the horses and plentiful grass, but often there's a natural boundary or even fencing, where we are now, there's loads of grass next to the track going under the bridge on the edge of Bicorp town. There's a lavandería here, an old washing house, they still exsist in alot of small towns, so our clothes and the saddle pads are now drying on the fence.
The other day, just as it started to rain, we came to an abandoned mansion with a beautiful & very handy portch we could all get under to keep dry, it was an amazing place, gone to ruin, as many have in Spain, obviously wealthy & luxurious in it's day, but times changed, in this case, perhaps a slump of the silk textile industry in the area.
There at the mansion was a perfectly fenced area waist high with grass! As we led them to their night spot (forsaking our preference to put up our tent in the beautiful portchway) I saw a nasty hole in the ground ahead of Mark & Tio, said 'mind the hole! ' & Mark said 'there's a toad in it' and sure enough there was a toad in the hole.
Later we ate dinner beside the old ruined swimming pool. Stir fried noodles - yummy! 😂
Going back a couple of weeks, we've enjoyed various hospitalities.. That of Julia & Ian, such a lovely over night stop while Tio saw the dentist, (wonderful vet called Rocio). Apart from having her own horse too, Julia has a lovely husband &
Beautiful house with a playboy back terrace, swim up to the bar pool, fluffy headed chickens & very lucky cats. we had such a fun time, ate out (chinese!), showered & slept in a bed in a room!
Then realising we could actually plan ahead & get some more luxuries, we have since booked in to a couple of campsites, both of which have been totally horsey friendly..Villa Carmen in Bocairent, with Roger & Nina, a really nice dutch couple.. Beautiful place & we got a pitch with the best view of the old town and castle. Then an oasis in the midst of the pine hills & valleys from hell - for horses! The paths were at the max you could expect a horse to do, it was slow going, their boots on & off, some of it like a deep rock staircase!
Yes, we had realised it was a long and barren stretch, so had booked into Las casas de Benali, thank heavens! A lovely vegy dinner, great attentive staff & a friday night (the next day) party with a band who were jolly good!
Off at dawn which was difficult! But since then we've taken the forest pistas & C roads that are generally very quiet, but loads of cyclists & motorbikes, Rayo sees the roaring motorbike speeding by as a challenge, he hears them coming & really seems to want to race!
So we've pepped up their grain rations to give them the energy they need (not to race motorcycles of course!) but Rayo, even with the work he's doing, the grain soups him up like a turbo.. I'm going to have to give him little & often.. Yesterday he was manic. He couldn't settle to eat grass, he pooped everything one by one, spinning around a tree in the shade insensed by flies & watching for any scary/exciting things that could be coming towards him, I had to put the bit back in (after goung bitless for a couple of days) because I thought he might leap the armco of the bridge if a bike came by. This is a horse that isn't normally spooky. Yesterday was a really difficult day and this is where the hell bit comes in.. We had been drenched in the evening before, no sleep because Tio doesn't stay inside his pretend electric fence anymore and is now tethered, we had a piece of elastic tied to his tether rope, which if Mark felt stretch, whilst tied round his hand whilst sleeping, he would run out to the rescue.. Hmmm, that didn't work! In the end we filled a hay net with alfalfa from a nearby field & left him the rest of the night tied short with the alfalfa.
He was fine, we were exhausted ed. The day passed with exploding tempers, everything was so hard.
It rained throughout the day, but gloriously as it does here in Spain the sun came out in the evening, we found a lovely bar, then walked 500 metres late at 8pm & found heaven again!
Last night Tio was tethered and stayed on it happily with no problems, he was tied firmly on the long rope, but with string that would break AND he was inside a fence..
Another fab night was spent in Ontiyent with Manolo no problemo & family.. Manolo drove up beside us on the road outside the town & literally ordered us to come to his brothers house! You go to my brothers, he has horse he has stable he has picadero he has english friend with horse, your horses, no problem, you no problem! So we followed him there and met his whole family who were visiting because his brother Paco had just broken his hip! What a great family! Full of fun & character! Paco was super genourous & funny & really looked like Steve Buscemi..we met their English horsey friend Suzanne who has a stunning palomino arab & kindly gave us some alfalfa for the boys.
It was a good thing Manolo did order us there as the next day we headed on up to the pine forests & there was no grass or water (apart fom puddles - thanks to the rain!).
Today we left our lovely riverside camp and our new friends in Bicorp, as we came up the hill looking down on the village you could see the old houses nestled in the valley so perfectly, pastel coloured, not ugly & out of place but like they've always been there.
The road was empty, we had 25 kilometres feeling like kings on fresh & happy horses, Rayo calm & bitless again, maybe 5 cars passed us and out of those, 1 man stopped, waited for us, directed us on to a shortcut (saving 10 k) & told us of a great camping spot by the river here in Millares.
You know those happy feelings you get from time to time ? They happen alot here.
So this brings us up to date & I hope to continue with shorter, more in the moment updates..
Extra photo accompaniment on the facebook post..
Sending love to you all !