Good Memories in a Different World-Riding Horseback in Mexico
So Different From Our Weather
Guadalajara is a large city that is not only located in a desert area, but it is in a high mountain terrain. The weather there is therefore not just influenced by the tropics of being so far down past the tropic of cancer, but by the altitude which is around 10,000 ft. When we in the USA are having our summer, Guadalajara is having it's rainy season, and the wintertime here is their dry time of year.
The farther into the rainy season, the earlier the monsoon rains come. You can actually set your watch by the time it rains in Guadalajara. I might also add that during the warm time of year there, is the rainy season, and when they are having their cold season, it is very dry and not a drop of rain falls. If this seems confusing, let me describe it according to a calendar.
The rain season begins around the end of April, and by the end of May they are getting into the monsoon season, and it is tropical and warm, but very wet. By the beginning of June, the rain becomes daily, and it starts to rain during the night. By morning the sun comes up and everything is steaming, our lawn, the ground, everything. It is never puddled for the water soaks right into the ground, which is very volcanic. By the end of August, the rain begins in the afternoon, and when I say you can set your watch by it I mean just that. At 4:00 PM it starts to rain, and I do not mean a sprinkle, it is a downpour. One raindrop can soak you, literally. Then when we are having our fall, and it is moving towards winter, in Guadalajara, the rain is going away, and the weather gets very cold at night. It feels as though it could snow, it is that cold, but never a hint of a storm, it is always clear and crisp.
Having described the weather and what it is like there, let me get further into my story, which is not about the weather, but includes the weather.
I have always been an early morning person. I loved to get up just before dawn, throw a saddle on my horse and watch our sleepy little village wake up. When I chose to do this, here is how it went.
i would wake up about 4:30 or so, and in my pajamas and without shoes would run out behind our house to the horse corral and grab a bucket and throw about a quart or so of grain into it. My horse, a half Arab grey mare, would see me pick up the bucket and quietly talk to me, knowing what was coming. I would throw her a little hay to hold her until I got back, and took the bucket of grain into the house. I set the bucket on the kitchen table, my feet by this time numb with the cold. and put a pan of water to heat on the stove. This gave me just enough time to go and pull on my jeans, and put my boots on. Half dressed, I went back into the kitchen and the water was just beginning to boil. With a big wooden spoon I would mix the grain while pouring the hot water into the grain. The result was a steaming mash which resembled oatmeal a little bit, but with many other grains in it too.
I wanted to give her time to eat it, so I ran it back to the corral, but this time I at least had boots on, and she could see me coming and again couldn't help but to call out to me. Dancing back and forth behind her fence in anticipation, I set the bucket down for her and stood and watched her gobble into it. After she had a big mouthful of the steaming mash, she looked up at me as she chewed it, and I almost could detect a smile on her horsey face. Back into the bucket her face disappeared, and back into the house I went, to finish putting my clothes on. I always put my clothes on right over my pajamas, for the cold was piercing.
By the time the first hint of light was showing in the sky, I was dressed and out the door I headed, back to the corral,. where she was just about finishing her bucket of grain. She looked up at me, and I could tell she was feeling it's warming effects, for she was blowing two solid streams of steam from her nostrils.
She had a halter on, and I pulled her around to the place where I groomed her, and threw an armful of alfalfa there for her, while I brushed the dirt and whathaveyou, out of her coat, which at this time of year was rather thick and long. I cleaned her feet, doing a rather quick job, not a good job, just enough to get the mud and rocks out of her feet so she was walking comfortably. I threw the saddle pad on, got the saddle, cinched it up, and the bridle would be the last thing I put on her, which meant her eating was over with.
I used a split rein, so I threw one side up over the saddle, and led her out of the corral area with the other. Out through our yard, and out the front gate which was made of a black iron. I led her through, turned around and closed it behind us, and got up on her. She knew where we were going, and before I was all the way into the saddle she was moving up the street. She was about 5 or 6 years old, and I think loved these outings as much as I for she had a quick lively step and seemed glad to be out and moving. Her head bobbed in time with her step, and by the time we hit the end of our street, she was warmed up enough to be blowing a good amount of steam from her nose. My nose was frozen, and I was almost a little jealous.
As we went up and down the streets of our little country village, which was about two miles north of Guadalajara itself, and was full of small pig, chicken, and beef farms, but all the houses were right on the street, with the livestock behind the houses. All the older women would be the first to get up, and started fires in the fire pits, putting huge pans of water hanging over the fires by a tripod type of thing, and they were adding whole coffee beans, sticks of cinnamon, and large amounts of raw sugar to the pot. You could smell this coffee drink coming from each house. Next the younger women would appear, and all the women would sit around the fires, patting out the balls of dough into round tortillas. throwing the handmade tortillas onto a large flat iron grill that was then on the fire, making the tortillas each home would need for the meals that day.
As I rode up and down each street, the people would see me, and wave in greeting. Some of the neighbors who were used to seeing me would come out or send a child out to greet me and ask me if I wanted to come and have some morning coffee with them. I would decline the offer almost always, for I did not like the drink myself, but also because I wanted to be on with my ride. I always thanked them, and I found all the people in our village to be very friendly and concerned. A couple of times when I had problems I would take off riding, and the women would see me crying and upset and would come out and stop me in the street and offer me comfort, and even offer me to come and stay with them and talk. Their concern and offers of help always touched my heart and to this day when recalling these times, it makes me cry. This kind of true concern I have not found anywhere else in all my travels and in all my life.
By the time the sun was up and it was light out, the children were all up and dressed and had breakfast, and those who went to school were headed in that direction. The men would have eaten and were either going to work or were out in the back caring for their stock, These mornings that I got up and watched my village, called Ciudad Granja, pronounced (si-u-dad gran-ha) get up and get ready for their day, are memories that are those that stick in your head, the kind of memories that remain vivid and clear, the kind of memories that don't fade but remain in your head clearly, the various sights, for example the old women who were the first up, in their raggedy dresses with scarfs wrapped around their shoulders over their heads with the other end of it covering their nose and mouths to keep them warm, starting the fires. They always stopped what they were doing to wave and yell "Buenos Dias" (Good Morning) to me no matter how busy they were. This is the memories that don't fade and go away. The memories of my horses shoes hitting the stones of the cobblestone street, as we walked along, that sound will never leave my memory. It is funny how some things fade with time, and other things just never fade but remain just as clear as if it were yesterday.
As we went home, after wandering around for about an hour or a little longer, my mare knew she was going to get to roll in the dirt when I took her saddle off, and then finish her hay. I knew that I had to shower and get ready for work, This is how my day started a couple of times a week. These are times I will always cherish and hold dear to myself. Thank you for allowing me to share these cherished times with you.