Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's the horse I've always wanted and now I have it

I bought the horse, yes I did.

Something inside me feels not quite right about using the words “my” and “horse” together. There’s some part of me that still says, “Wait a minute, you can not afford a horse. You are not of the horse-affording class.” But the math says I can, I am, in Paraguay. So it fell under the once-in-a-lifetime rule, and so I had to do it.

The best part is that my host uncle Tito has been caring for horses all his life, and so Bigote McGregor, my horse, lives over there. I’ve been at home searching YouTube for things like “how to horseriding”, “horse trotting.”

I ride my bike to Tito’s and he brings Bigote out for me. I help him put on the saddle, still learning how. Tito yells at Bigote in Guarani when he doesn’t want to hold still. “Epytama Aña memby!” (Hold still devil child!) I can’t help but laugh behind him.

Foot in one stirrup, hand on the mane and reins, and I’m up and I’m off, eight-feet-tall and fast. We go past other horses grazing and pigs snorting and these little gerbil-like creatures that run into the same bushes every time I pass. (“Oh, those are so delicious,” says my host mom.”)

There are more horses and cows grazing in the countryside, which stretches out like a ocean of grass around the island of Yataity. I used to be stuck on that island.

But on my new legs I can go out and explore, past the pond where Uncle Tito bathes Bigote, where little tadpoles swim with their legs out. I can go past the cows, where one is hiding her calf in the bushes. I see birds that would have been in style in the ‘80s: neon yellow and black. I see lines of ants so undisturbed they’ve cut a path in the grass. I see wildflowers, yellow, white, dark pink in the center then spreading out to a light blush. I think of Tom Petty, “You belong, among the wildflowers...”

I can look out and see there was a time before all these things had little nametags pinned on them by humans. I can see the foamy eggs of the toads, the breeze spreading seeds, birds tending nests, all those parts of this world you forget are amazing after you leave elementary school.

On the way home I trot a bit to feel that speed. I’ll wait to gallop until I’m more comfortable, more advanced in the YouTube School of Horsemanship. At Uncle Tito’s I say bye to Bigote, stroking that smooth horse neck, then my bike is waiting outside. I never realized how lame it is to ride a bike, until I got off a horse first.

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