Let’s Get the Gringo On a Horse!

While the language barrier was usually a bit of a problem, sometimes I got the message quite clearly despite only understanding half the words.

Hanging Out
The younger guys hang out and talk story at Tierra Amarillo
As my mother taught about soil quality and erosion control inside I was free to explore the farms. I used the opportunity to photograph the lives of the residents of Tierra Amarilla, it was a beautiful sunny day and everyone was enjoying the warm afternoon.

Residents from across the valley had gathered, including many who were not attending the class inside, any excuse to gather and socialize. Women gathered around the kitchen at one end of the house, quite a few younger men gathered around a pickup parked under cover at the other end of the house. The kids were everywhere.

Someone apparently had an idea, I will never know who, “Let’s get the gringo on a horse!” I first noticed when everyone was looking at me. “Uh? What do you want? What about the horse?”

With a dozen guys looking on I had to give in to their insistence and to get on the horse. Fortunato, our driver was no help, he was trying to translate for me, telling me to get on the horse and laughing with the rest. Language was of little issue, the jovial comments and laughter were a clear indication of what they thought would happen. The kids in particular were looking on with glee.

On A Horse
Your author riding a horse
The horse in question belonged to one of the farmers present for the training. He had ridden it in just before the event started, it was still saddled up and tied in the shade of a tree near the house. A smaller horse, a very sturdy animal, it appeared to be well used to this sort of life, traveling the steep trails of the surrounding hills. While one of the kids untied the lead rope I got on.

Much to their disappointment, I can ride a horse.

While I am no great horseman, I do know the basics, and generally do not fall off. Actually the horse was a very well trained and a well behaved animal. My mount took directions well and I rode a quick circuit of the yard. I could sense the let down in my spectators, the kids particularly. They were nice enough to take my photo when I handed them the camera.

Five Days on the Río San Juan de Nicaragua

Draining Lake Nicaragua and flowing into the Caribbean is a large river, the Río San Juan de Nicaragua. A great deal of history has passed along this river over the centuries. Before modern highways and air travel this was the main transportation route into the rich lands of central Nicaragua, bypassing the thick belt of rain forest and jungle on the Caribbean coast.

Río San Juan
Thick jungle lines the banks of the Río San Juan below Bartola

The Río San Juan has seen the passage of Spanish Conquistadors, pirates and foreign armies bent on conquering what is now Nicaragua. Along this route thousands of forty-niners came on their way to the California gold fields, using the river to cross the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean. The border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica is also defined by the south bank along much of the river’s length. While the river’s importance on the international stage has waned, it is still a critical route for local residents that call the region home. Dozens of vessels, from river taxis to barges carry people and cargo to the towns and farms that depend on the river.

The river is also popular with the more adventurous tourists. The history and natural beauty found here makes the area endlessly fascinating. Several large biologic preserves along the river preserve large tracts of natural jungle. Fishermen from across the world come to the Río San Juan as well. Here you can catch Tarpon, a renowned sport fish that can reach 2 meters in length and weigh 100kg.

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