Unfortunately no photos of Charles and Andrea on horseback in Cuba.
We booked for a three hour ride. The horses were very narrow and slim. Andrea’s was called Tikki-Tika and Charles’ Papito. Getting up was interesting, as the horses were very slight of build, and leaned at 45 degrees as we mounted.
As we set off, several things became apparent. First, our guide took up the rear, rather than the front. When we asked at junctions which way to turn, he said ‘Automatico’. We hadn’t gone far when he received a glass of rum over a garden hedge. We didn’t. We rode western style, with one hand on the pommel and the other holding the reins.
Soon it became apparent that kicking was futile and squeezing not much better. But when one learnt to salsa, ie wiggle the bottom, one could get a very fast trot (well, a run, really) quite easily and, in Andrea’s case, a canter. She’s got a better bum and wiggle.
In the outskirts of town, lorries and huge old American cars blasting past a couple of feet away were totally ignored. On the whole ride, the horses never once misbehaved, and were extremely sure-footed. Our most alarming moment came when we had to ride over the rope of a tethered bull, which lay across the track. ‘No problem,’ said our guide, and amazingly neither the rope nor the bull a few feet away moved.
Would we like a stop for coffee? Si, por favour. The stop lasted an hour with a farmer who spoke only Spanish, and included much fruit and water, gratefully received, and cigars (politely declined). Then it was home through the tobacco fields.
Could Sparhanger learn any lessons from our experience, I was asked. Certainly, starting with £3.50 an hour. And how about fruit, coffee, rum and cigars en route?
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