Posted by: Jena Davison | October 29, 2009

Gringa Gone Gaucha

¨Es como malo sexo (It is like bad sex),¨ we joked with Fabian, our Brazilian-bred horseback riding guide. Fabian got a kick out of this comparison and responded by howling in his contagious laughter. He knew we were referring to the painfully bumpy ride on the stretch of beach where our horses accelerated from gentle trots to speedy gallops, which forcefully bounced us up and down and side to side. Julie and I were holding on to a single leather strap for dear life and all we could do was laugh hysterically. At once, she found a technique to offset the extreme height our butts were getting off of the saddles with each gallop.¨Squeeze your thighs! Squeeze your thighs!¨ she yelled, obviously leading to even more laughter.

This is merely a glimpse of the fun we all had on our three-and-a-half hour horseback riding tour led by Fabian, a laid-back lad with a sunny smile. I went with Julie, my close friend who works at the hostel with me, and a British couple who are currently staying here. We were each assigned to a horse and mine was named Borracha, which means drunkard in Spanish. True to her name, she took frequent stops to graze the grass, refused to walk on the actual path and lagged behind the rest of the horses by several yards. Nonetheless, we bonded and I am thankful she delivered me home safe and sound.

The tour itself was absolutely beautiful. It was a nice mixture of different terrain and scenery. We strolled through grassy knolls, galloped on the beach just inches from the ocean, and followed a winding dirt trail through Santa Teresa National Park, a nature reserve that is a big attraction here. The park itself is rather large and is filled with an assortment of interesting trees and shrubs that represent every shade of green in the color spectrum. About halfway through, we took a break at a little enclave in the woods where there was a stone picnic table. Fabian brought along two bottles of red wine and a plastic bag full of crumbly honey cookies, which we all shared over conversation. We let the horses run wild for about a half hour and then reclaimed our positions on their backs.

Fabian and his horse tour is very special to the hostel itself. El Diablo Tranquilo takes pride in its charitable support of small businesses in the community. Here at the hostel we add a $2 charitable contribution fee to every bill at checkout, at which point guests can decide whether or not they want to pay it. At the moment, we are in the process of collecting funds for a microfinancing project called ¨Teach a Man to Fish.¨ El Diablo Tranquilo is going to locate a potential business idea in Latin America and will then provide capital, formal training, and long-term support for the selected person. I really like the fact that I work for an organization that gives back to the community. Fabian´s horse tour was actually a result of this microfinancing project. El Diablo Tranquilo helped him launch his business, bought his horses and continues to promote and support his business. Now he can afford to put his two children in school and is able to lead a much more comfortable life.

All and all, due to this horse tour, this past Wednesday was one of my favorite days here so far. I guess if travel writing doesn´t work out, maybe I´ll just hibernate in Punta del Diablo and become a full-time gaucha.

Below are some pictures of the horse tour:

Horseback Riding

Our Horseback Riding Group

Barracha, the horse I rode

Julie and Fabian riding on the beach

On a trail through Santa Teresa National Park

Heading Toward the Beach

Julie, Fabian and Me

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