Mucho Trabajo y el raton (hello mum x)

August 8, 2006

I’ve been away for a week and a half, holed up in ‘Camp Pintag’ and it’s soooo nice to be back and get all your emails, so thank-you!

What’ve I been doing I hear you cry?

Umm… working mainly (mucho trabajo).

  • Feeding Sam (horse), Fraser and Guapa (dogs) their brecky.
  • Moving horses (yes, all 15 of them) from day field to night field and back. Riveting. Did you know horses come when you whistle? – these do. However the dogs don’t.
  • Filling water troughs, and buckets for 3 tethered horses. (i.e. carrying 2 VERY HEAVY canisters of water down a field… and we’re in the Andes here… y’know, the air is thin, it’s like doing a World’s Strongest Man event every morning.)
  • Moving the electric fence wire to give the greedy horses more grass.
  • Replacing a couple of rotten stakes in various fences.
  • Wiping stinky mouse-muck invested wax on the horses cascos (hooves), to keep them lush and long (Sally has a book “No hoof, no horse”, which is actually quite true).
  • Pulling super long manes of horses back into 8 inch or so length and shape.

That’s your day to day stuff, but we also re-surfaced the coral. This was a big job which Patricio and I did with just two shovels and a wheel barrow – I did suggest a mechanised digger, but he didn’t seem to know anyone who had one.

Last Thursday Patricio and I drove around a few quarries getting prices for rock and dust, and on Friday at 7am (who said Ecuadorians and Spanish are all about manaña!?!) a wagon delivered two big – sorry Dad, I don’t know how many tonnes big – loads. The first of half-inch sized round stones and then a second of PHENOMENALLY HEAVY grit to put on top. This then took most of Friday to distribute, as we prepared the ground, then spread it around the coral in two layers, giving me two perfectly matching blisters on my thumbs, to go with the blister on my middle fingers from pulling manes.

So yes Mum, I should be fitter – slimmer tho, I’m not sure. I’ll live in hope! 

A quick update on the tanning front, we had some rain – great for grass, bad for Shirley’s tan – and a LOT OF WIND. There’s enough wind up here coming down from the Northern or Eastern paramos to send you mad (and blow your hat off many times). Thankfully it gave up long enough on Thursday for me to burn my back in the sunshine whilst filling the troughs.

The burn count so far is:

Forehead – 1
Nose – 2
Neck – 1
Back (the bit I can’t reach between my shoulders) – 1

Interestingly, after 6 weeks, my legs are no longer blindingly white, but are *I think* either just mucky with all the dust blowing around or are perhaps slowly turning some shade of off-white/beige.  I’ll let you know if they prove to be tanning.

On average I’ve been exercising about 4 horses a day, which might or might not sound a lot, but believe when you’re riding or whizzing them round in the coral for up to an hour each in fairly warm weather, then pulling their manes, doing their hooves and taking them back down the field, plus all the every-day jobs… 4 is enough.

Brother John, you’re quite right… it is a bit like being in a sweet shop (or a crisp shop for me)… I can ride whichever of these horses I like, as often as I want. Although, sometimes it’s like there’s just too much choice… weird heh.

So for the last 10 days or so Sally’s been away in Mexico – she said “on holiday” – but it turns out, workaholic that she is, that she was secretly researching a new ride in Mexico. She’s now ignoring her month end billing (amazing isn’t it that everyone in the whole world has month end to contend with!!) and writing up her ideas for the Mexico tour.

Whilst she’s been off gallivanting I’ve been solo Inglesa in Pintag. And Patricio took his wife and son off on holiday for seven days (the effort of resurfacing the coral was too much for him), so that just left Roberto and Jose Javier. Jose Javier chose to show up just for one day instead of the agreed five, which left Roberto and me with rather a lot to do… Fortunately Roberto speaks (as I may have mentioned before) perfect American English, so I have learnt minimal Spanish in the last week. 😦

Evenings have been largely unremarkable. I have read a variety of trashy novels. Got better at lighting the fire – although I am still amateur and go to bed early if it goes out. I have looked at the very-bright-indeed stars … I can spot the Southern Cross… but I can’t understand Sally’s star book, which uses other, more complicated, classifications instead of ‘very-bright-indeed stars’.

I’ve also spent a lot of evenings at the farm on my own in fear of, not burglars, theives or general baddies… something much worse… the mouse.

The mouse, el raton.

And this is main reason I am so happy to return to Quito. Quito is mouse-free. Pintag is a veritable life and death gauntlet of mouse. The little squeaking thing would appear in the kitchen, the bathroom and, horror of dreadful horrors, my bedroom. Patricio boarded up the mouse-hole express-way in the bedroom wall, which is really just crumbling plaster and breeze blocks, and as the room only has a bed (lumpy and hard) a bookshelf (plastic) and a bedside table (breeze blocks of course) there weren’t many places left for el raton to hide, so it kept out of my room after that. However it would sneakily pop out of an evening to shock me into immobility. I’m getting slightly better, but I don’t take my boots off much in the house.

And that’s kind of where we’re at. Sally’s off again soon, back to England *sniff sniff* for a month. Mum – she said she’d have a very empty bag coming back, so I may be sending for some going out clothes and some Bovril please. The next riding tour isn’t until 15th September, so in August I’m planning to do my death defying climb of active Volcan Cotopaxi (acclimatising first on Volcan Ilinizas) and may also manage to do a smidge of sightseeing in and around Quito. (I did have a chance to do some cultural stuff in Quito, y’know Catholic Churches, pick-pocket plazas etc. last Saturday, but to be honest it was a foregone conclusion that I’d end up at El Jardin – shopping centre – where, ladies… shoes are really really cheap, but diesel jeans are about the same.) 

And that’s it for now. The things I haven’t included are: 

– other shopping centre highlights
– two nights out with the American Anna 
– the Italian, Matteo
– the food poisoning
– getting walloped in the face by Henry (horse) whilst riding, got a bruised jaw. (mum, dad don’t worry, I’m fine)

Lots of love to everyone back home (do I sound like I’m on the radio?) and everyone else who knows me.


PS – Mum, hope you’re back to normal and feeling great soon. xxx 


3 Responses to “Mucho Trabajo y el raton (hello mum x)”

  1. Mrs Ibbo Says:

    Fantastic update hun. Particularly like the bits about ‘el raton’ and the ‘very bright indeed stars’ – that sounds like the title of a children’s book! Great to hear that they are working you hard too as it reduces our jealousy ;o).

    So, more about Matteo please…I feel there is much more to know there.

    Miss you. Big hugs

  2. whirley Says:

    Check your email lady. Matteo update should be in your inbox.

  3. mum haywood Says:

    Matteo? – someone holding back eh! Or not as the case might be. &:o

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