In the early 60's you could see some
of the changes brought to the Lake area by the oil wealth
being shared with the workers. There were more small farms
out behind Campo Rojo and lots of cars. We would take rides
out behind Tia Juana in the savannahs and come across small
ranchitas with horses and Americans out riding.
Someone had the bright idea of setting
up a corral of horses under some large spreading trees on
the creek bed near the lake behind the Main Offices. The
owners rented the horses for riding on the roads back in
the vicinity of the coral.
I had just returned from Jr. College
and a group of us decided to rent horses for a ride. It
was near noon and the sun was boiling. I think Randy and
Mike Lanciault along with Franca Vettor and a couple of
others that I can't recall drove to the corral in my jeep.
We had been drinking Cuba Libres and cerveza.
We each paid about 5Bs to rent a
horse for an hour or so. The horses were swayed-back nags.
The saddles were Colombian which is a wooden frame with
a blanket thrown across the back of the horse. Stirrups
hung from the frame. None of us knew much about horses so
we didn't think to adjust the stirrups. We just got on and
took a nice leisurely ride out one of the roads. We had
a great time joking and talking and the sun beat down.
Now, the horses had been ridden many
times and just plodded along so all you had to do was let
them have their heads. Unbeknownst to me was the fact that
I was riding the “beast”. The sun beat down
and man it was hot. We were wearing jeans and T-shirts and
were beginning to feel the effects of the heat and the alcohol.
All of us including the horses began to feel dehydrated.
So, we decided to head back.
ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!! The “beast”
took the bit in its teeth, put its head down and broke into
a wild run towards the creek where it was cool and there
was water. Now, my memory of this is etched in my mind.
The “beast” could not be stopped, I tugged back
on the reins with all my strength leaning back with my feet
extended past the “beast's” head all the while
bouncing up and down on its spine and bouncing around the
wood saddle frame. It headed off the road into the thorn
brush and where during the rainy season the cattle had grazed
leaving deep hoof-prints in the now dried brick-hard mud.
I knew it would break its leg and I think I saw “death”
riding beside me, leering and laughing. The horse crashed
through the brush with me hanging on for dear life and came
to the creek and coral where it came to a sudden halt leaving
me in a cloud of dust. I was scratched all over, my tai-bone
was battered, my inner thighs were raw meat and my pride
was non-existent and worse of all my friends saw it all.
I was not cool!!
And that's the way it was and to
this day I will not ride a horse. I have a motorcycle and
it does what I want it to do and much faster.
That's the way it was.