Peru final stage: Cusco

By the time we left Ollantaytambo, I was ready to feel better! I wanted to eat and drink well again. I liked Ollantaytambo, but I didn’t like how cars/buses went ripping around the very narrow cobbled streets- it felt too narrow and busy.

Off to Cusco we went, for the final 3 days of our trip. The ride back to Cusco was ok except I felt horribly carsick heading into Cusco- so twisty, winding, slamming on the brakes and oh, the car we hired didn’t have any seatbelts? Joy!

31958896_10100956751375596_6793370362156417024_n

We made it and wow, I felt like shit.

Cusco was very cool- lots of big older buildings, museums, hotels and tons and tons of pretty good restaurants and bars. Our hotel was super neat, an old monastery that was attached to a church! The church still held services, and the hotel itself functioned as a non-profit to support orphaned girls.

31906924_10100956751655036_1441258091004821504_n

I loved the hotel, and the town was very neat. The unfortunate thing about Cusco is that it is SWARMING with hawkers of nearly every description. It does get tiring to swat away vendors and tour guides and you name it. Every.single.time. you leave the hotel, without fail. Kind of exhausting.

We walked around exploring Cusco, and did a chocolate-making workshop that was SUPER fun. Highly recommend! It is pricey but worth it. So fun.

31914176_10100956751560226_4123517084921495552_n

We enjoyed a beer from the best viewpoint in town, for a very reasonable price.

31945712_10100956751475396_3759721406351278080_n

We also went to one of the best restaurants in Cusco (according to a friend of mine) called Pachapapas – I had the whole roasted trout, and Ian had Alpaca skewers.  They were amazing!! The only thing that sucked was that we were both starting to feel the effects of altitude, and our metabolisms started slowing down. That meant that after 1 meal, we no longer wanted to eat or drink anything…And felt vaguely nauseous for the whole day/night. That meant I wasn’t even hungry for our amazing dinner-bummer! And the thought of alcohol made me feel sick. Man!

We also went to the shabby-chic Coca Museum (it was more shabby than chic hahaha) but a fun little foray.

31946510_10100956751415516_7032416778584064000_n

In the end, I was glad to wrap up our trip. It was chilly in Cusco at night, but fairly nice during the day. I was wishing I could eat/drink normally again, and quite glad to be back on the road home by the end of our three days.

31901854_10100956751610126_4208025746200854528_n

Visit Peru- it’s a crazy place and you’ll have a grand adventure!

Trip of a lifetime: Phase 1- Salvador!

We began our grand adventure in the city of Salvador. We flew to Sao Paulo first, spent the night and flew out to Salvador in the morning. I was a bit leery, it was chilly in Sao Paulo and I was like, I left our summer in Canada for this?

13937951_10100602684867716_694299840546630318_o

Looks just like LA eh? Beachfront in Salvador Bahia.

The scenery outside Salvador is really interesting- the airport is very far from the old city centre, like 1 hour and a $50 cab ride, which we were not expecting! There were favelas as far as the eye could see, horses tied to grassy medians, a bit grungy and just, well, so different.

We were staying in the old town, the heart of Salvador as I like to think of it. It’s super cool, huge cobblestones that are extremely treacherous to walk on, the streets are very steep, and there is not much traffic. The hotels were fantastic- we stayed in two and they were sooo neat. Older buildings, well kept, fairly quiet and clean and just so funky!

13934857_10100602683585286_7863878981430297995_n

Pelhourino district

We stayed in the Pelhourino district, home to Brazil’s first elevator (Elevador Lacerda)- which is huge and connects the lower-town with the upper town (Pelo).

14054331_10100602683954546_1610262728580542545_o

Elevator just to the left.

The food was fantastic- we ate fish moqueque two days in a row!  It is a traditional fish stew with dende oil and shrimps. We also drank extremely strong caipirinha; a drink made of muddled sugar, limes and Cachaça. I could only drink one!

There are a lot of street vendors, but you can politely tell them to go away and they will leave you alone. The streets are deemed to be a bit dangerous at night, even in the very-touristy Pelo district, so be aware. We didn’t have any problems, but hotel doormen, taxi drivers, and restaurant staff were all warning us to be careful….So they were very wary and looked out for us a lot.

14068333_10100602685067316_6584119540695902372_o

SALVADOR!

The market was a bit blah, but the beach, the fort, the restaurants, the drinks, the hotels and the scene & heat is not to be missed!! Salvador has a little bit of everything– you won’t regret visiting.

14086251_10100602685381686_6846907670341337596_o

Stand-up paddleboard surf comp

We spent 2 half days in Salvaor–landed there from Sao Paulo, and then the next day we took a trip to Morro de Sao Paulo, and then came back from Morro de Sao Paulo to finish our stay in Salvador before zipping off to Rio for the Olympics. I definitely recommend checking out the Pelo district and enjoying one of the many fine, cheap restaurants in Salvador.

13958088_10100602684298856_6830855109473169317_o

So long, Salvador. At Barra lighthouse.

The history is fascinating, and the architecture/elevator is not to be missed.

 

Let’s not go there = We’re definitely going there!

Had an interesting dressage lesson last night that kind of resurfaced some of my fears (specifically, the fears I have that Oats is going to be a twit and start bucking/getting humpy on me again).

Looks can be deceiving!

Looks can be deceiving!

Note- he hasn’t really pulled this stuff in months- since that one bad time in October?

But the fear is apparently always there, albeit not as close-to-the surface as it used to be.

We worked on engaging/pressuring ‘intensity’ at the walk and trot. BIG walk, tiny trot, BIG trot. It was starting to melt Oat’s brain, and I got kind of pushy with my hands when HE got pushy with his head. When his head came up, my hands defensively came up! I can’t seem to help it! When he started tossing his head and getting balky, I got anxious. I started remembering what he was like before, when we started increasing the pressure on him.

But then, Karen said (while I was frustrated and it felt like he was messing with my head!!) if his head goes up, your hands don’t go up! Think about your contact/hands like guard rails. They are there to guide. They don’t go sideways, up, down, anything. They are guiding.

Oats the giraffe

Look at my horse: My horse is amazing

And you know what? The super annoying messing around slowly started going away. My anxiety about his behaviour still existed, but it felt like I was more secure. I could do this! I could be solid, guiding, and push with my legs- it didn’t matter if his head went up, down, all around.

We did get some fab canter- and I sat the canter/gallop the whole way! Whee!! Go us!

And I felt a lot more secure, and my anxiety was starting to melt away. It’s funny, how deep the roots of stress and anxiety lay though. We’ve been having some amazing breakthroughs in lateral work, like every week, and then this week, some more ‘intense’ work at the trot and I have a melt down? Silly!

Of course my friend came to watch and this is the show we put on for her. SIGH! Hahaha, oh well. Horses- can’t live with them, can’t live without ’em sometimes.

It did make me want to start jumping even more though. I sure like that feeling more than wrestling through dressage some days, even if the cross-training we are doing is definitely helping us progress. It is hard-won, some days.

Throwback Thursday: I love Lucy

Yeah, sentimental old me- lately I feel like I’ve been saying to people- hey stop with the mare-bashing, some of the NICEST horses I’ve had have been mares! (ok, so maybe I just leased them, but man, i loved those girls!).

One such mare was Lucy, who is now a school horse with her owner Cathy Harrison, with the Harrison School of Horsemanship. I rode her when I was getting back into riding during university, after having take a year or so off.

I started riding at Bear Hill with Cathy when it was still operating. Lucy was very good to me, as an adult coming back after a year or more off, and we took to jumping together really well. I would have loved to buy her- I recall she was going for $4,500 but I couldn’t afford a horse at the time (broke university student!) and felt really glad that she was going with her current trainer to be her school horse.

I remember snowy days, misty days, cold days, rainy days. All good days when I was getting back in the saddle.

Without further ado- photos of Lucy- loved that girl!

Go girl!

Go girl!

Misty day- hard to believe this was almost 10 years ago?

Misty day- hard to believe this was almost 10 years ago?

I have a painting of this one!

I have a painting of this one!

Lucy at Bear Hill

Lucy at Bear Hill

When you’re going through hell, keep going?

So, I debated for awhile about blogging about yesterday because I still feel rather emotional. And it’s weird, I have been feeling strangely blah, out of it, super emotional and in a real mood, funk, and whatever for WEEKS now. Maybe even months?

I just can’t seem to shake it! This feeling like the other shoe is about to drop.

And yesterday it sort of did. With Oats, of all things. Of course.

I had a lesson with Karen Brain and I mentioned he was bucking with me on Sunday, and I managed to stick it, but that his attitude felt like…MAKE ME! Or maybe…EFF OFF!

He bucked again when I was warming up for the canter before my lesson, before Karen got there, and I felt edgy and concerned. We do not have a great history with his antics, and it makes me anxious, grabby and fearful. Are we constantly doomed to move backwards?

We started the lesson and it was going pretty well, he still felt a bit ‘tense’ but dressage work is not his forte and we’ve been working hard through some evasions. So far so good, until we worked on the right-lead canter…(this is the side he’s been bucking me on lately).

And BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I got flung right off, he wouldn’t stop bucking, and I couldn’t hang on. I’m not THAT great at sticking a buck. I can usually get him stopped before it gets to that point, but there was no saving it yesterday.

I landed fine (turns out constantly falling off is making me better at protecting myself) and instantly burst into tears and said I didn’t want to get back on.

That was ok, Karen got him organized and then TOOK HIM TO TASK.  Like, back up? Oh, he says no? Ok GO GO GO GO. Go forward and he says no? Ok, BACK UP MORE!

Sideways no-go? MOVE YOUR FEET!

Forwards? a rear? MOVE!

He was being very dramatic! He reared, high-ho Silver! style.

He went two rounds with Karen, who was not interested in taking his shit. He looked submissive after the first round, but then was geared up to protest mightily for the second. I spent most of the time watching and feeling upset. WTF?

She said he’s being dominant, and that it’s a matter of working through it on the ground first, before I am ‘at his mercy’ in the saddle and he bucks me off. That’s his way of working through stuff he doesn’t want to do.

So, I have to get side-reins and longe him, in a productive fashion, until I feel comfortable getting back on. And if I sense anything from him, get off and longe again. Repeat as necessary, until he gets that ‘soft’ look and his head comes down, but not if he barges into my space.

And of course, this comes during a time when I’m feeling more blah than ever. Less motivated than ever, less interested in working through this than ever. Like where does that leave me? Crying my eyes out at night, and having nightmares about being involved in a car accident. That’s where. And as an added bonus, I look like absolute shit today, so bad that my co-workers noticed and asked if I was sleeping ok. (they are the nicest! and no, I had a terrible sleep. Terrible!!!!!)

WHY why why why why why

I officially hate my pony. There, that is it.

The Saanich Fair- Proud agricultural roots

It’s fair time again, and fall fairs hold a really special place in my heart. I remember when I was a kid, my mom, sister and I would enter the local exhibition for our city- the Central Canada Exhibition. It was the second-longest running exhibition in Ontario and we loved entering everything- baking, crafts, you name it!

Youth showing cows at the Cowichan fairgrounds

Youth showing cows at the Cowichan fairgrounds

And the prices to enter were always VERY reasonable- free for junior entries (which I was when I entered) and I think .50 cents or 1.00 per adult entry. And you won big nice red rosettes for first place, and I think $5 in prize money as well?

Yes, some very fond memories. The older ladies who ran the fair loved seeing us every year and encouraged us to keep entering. It’s people like them who kept the fair running every year like clockwork. So we did enter, until I grew up and moved away.

Sadly, the fair no longer runs. Can you believe it? It was held for so long, and then the city decided to shut it down. Now my hometown no longer has any agricultural fall fairs, and frankly, no agricultural roots to feel close to.

Oats wins ribbons at the Cowichan jumper day

Oats wins ribbons at the Cowichan jumper day

That’s why my adopted hometown is now so special to me- they have a VERY strong fall fair, and extremely competitive categories. It’s not surprising to see 100 entries in vegetables alone, if not more!

I am a little more selective in what I enter now vs. when I was a kid- because I can’t compete with the pro bakers and crafters that enter here! It’s wild! I’m glad to see it, and so glad they keep holding it and that it is SO competitive and so popular. It is a major highlight of my (end of) summer and something I look forward to each year.I also like going to cheer on the kids from the barn who go to compete (there’s no way I would take Oats- he doesn’t play nice in hack classes haha).

Winning!

Winning!

It reminds me of my childhood, and it brings me closer to the agricultural roots of my being. Visit the Saanich Fair, and taste a bit of farm life just for a day.

Image

Throwback Thursday: Ardie and I

Throwback Thursday: Ardie and I

Love this big ol’ guy. A TB that looked and moved more like a warmblood. Or, according to a trainer who hopped on him one day, ‘cantered like a washing machine.’ HAHA.

Leased him for six months or so when I lived in Vancouver. He was at Burnaby Horsemen’s Association facility, which was super close to my house. I rode him in two horse shows, a small in-house horse show featured here, and a bigger indoor show in Cloverdale.

He was such a sweetheart, big lug, and he and I practiced hunters together. He used to scare me because of his size, but we started getting good together by the time I moved to Whitehorse.

Here’s to you old man- I was tempted to bring him up North with me, or maybe move him to Victoria with me when I was horse shopping! He is now semi or mostly retired, according to his owner who I keep in touch with here and there.

I tell you, it was a real shock to go from him to Starr, who I would also ride on the same days after Ardie.

Love this old dude.