We are not about to go up that treacherous rocky mountain cliff, I thought to myself. “Ma’am, we take two-year olds up there.” Seriously dude, not cool.
It was just me, the wilderness, and my trusty Zulu guide. And unbeknownst to me an innocent request for a 1-hour horse ride really was code for galavanting up a mountainous hill on the back of a horse. I should mention that I’ve never really ridden a horse. Not really at least. There are two precise memories I have of horses in my life – one involves a photo shoot in which I was coerced into wearing a cowboy hat AND a puffed-sleeves dress (come on, mom, really?!) and another in which I wailed my way through a tea plantation with a probably not-too-thrilled horse handler to my left (again in a puffed-sleeve dress – it probably tells you a lot about my childhood.) I have always loved horses. And I have quite liked the idea of galloping around on them. In my mind, I’m as smooth as Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. In practice, I am about as obnoxious and scared as I was when I was four years old. But to be fair, horse riding is tough. I made it to the top of the hill and begged my guide to go back down, half afraid that the horse would take off from underneath me and I would be left like that lady in It Takes Two. Images of me being ejected off the horse and landing spine first into a pointy rock chased me, making me half-laugh, half-want-to-cry. But the Zulu guide gave me one consolation: “don’t worry you’re wearing a helmet.” Oh really, I didn’t notice.
Slightly dramatic retelling, I know – especially considering that my guide ended up taking the reigns because he feared my nervousness would psyche out the horse (yeah that happened) – but you get the picture. I think there will not be much horse riding in my future. Not unless there is a field of reallllyyy soft green grass for me to fall on.
All this aside, these were moments I did savor, I promise. After the reigns were removed from my control, my guide entertained me with tales of his Zulu heritage – it was a perspective I have not yet heard on this trip, surrounded as I have been mostly by the sights and sound and peoples of the Western Cape. The Eastern Cape, as some people have told me, is practically a different country. The sun sets earlier. It gets colder at night and it’s warmer in the day and the terrain, with its variegated mountains and sugar cane fields and sand-dune like hills (dead because it is winter after all) stand in marked contrast to the city lights of Cape Town. This is a different world. And I can horse ride in it. Well, practically.
That aside, the weekend was a time for me to … sleep. And that, as Gerrit, my trusty partner in crime, pointed out – I do marvelously well. I’m going to blame this little thing called allergies and this pink thing called Benadryl and the lack of coffee but really, I also am just going to full on admit that I do, after all, like to sleep. A lot. And this weekend was a catching up of sorts. For me, the mountains, and a warm comfy bed. I like to think it was well-deserved.
Here’s to Monday, folks!