Writing Wrongs

May 14, 2005

I think Iím sufficiently removed from this bit of Aruba trauma to share it. At least, I hope so.

It all started when Bob mentioned he really wanted to go horseback riding. He rode while growing up in Utah. In fact, ďTahmasebĒ means ďof the strong horses.Ē How can we actually visit someplace that has horseback riding and not try it.

Except. My maiden name is Collins, from the Gaelic, meaning ďfreaking terrified of horses.Ē Bob says they can smell fear and the key is not to show it. Heck, the popular clique in high school could do the same and I didnít see the point in spending time with them either.

But I go. Because I try to be a good wife (although Bob might argue this). I was going to say the ranch was called Rancho Diablo, but I canít, because look! Here they are on the web: Rancho Daimari.

They boast the best horseback riding in Aruba. Not being a horsewoman, I canít dispute this. However, they go on to say:

We know that your visit to our ranch will be the highlight of your Aruban vacation, and we look forward to sharing this ambience with you and your family.

If by highlight of your Aruban vacation they mean terrifying descent into hell, then yes, I have to agree, it was.

Our first clue should have been the fact that most motorized vehicles canít reach the ranch and that the pickup vanís driver had looped a rosary around the rearview mirror. Nice.

In all the times Iíve tried this horseback riding thing, Iíve always admitted I donít know how to ride. Iím not a showoff. Iím not pretending to be something Iím not. So why is it I always end up with the ďproblemĒ horse?

Bob ends up on a horse named Mr. Bill (for those who remember Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live). That really should have been our second clue. I get a horse named Lucrecia. The name has obscure Latin origins, meaning spawn of the devil.

This is a horse that likes no one. From the moment we left the stables, she kept trying to cut in line and skirt around the other horses. On a narrow, hilly (think mountainous) path, this isnít possible.

My third clue came when the horse in front of me tripped and went down on its front two legs and its rider went rolling off the top of it. Yeah. Right in front of me. And Iím thinking, oh, my God, this is my fate, and unlike the other rider, I have no idea how to roll off a horse. Iím a dead woman. (The other rider was just fine. My nerves, however, were not.)

In retrospect, Iím pretty sure that because this horse would not let Lucrecia pass, she put a hex on it.

Wait. Scratch that. Iím absolutely sure.

Okay. Honestly? When we were away from everyone, things were fine. Well, maybe just okay or not too awful. Get us close and Lucrecia starts kicking the other horses. She goes out of her way to kick the other horses. I am cussed out by the advance horsewomen in the group (see above about popular clique, although there was one very nice woman who didnít hold my horse against me.)

So we arrive at the Natural Pool, where we can partake of the restorative waters. In theory this sounds good. In practice, riding demon horse while soaking wet does not, so I use the break to psych myself up for the ride back. And hereís where we get our fourth and final clue: Lucrecia is corralled away from all the other horses.

I have the ďmean girlĒ of horses.

On the way back, we ďgetĒ to gallop along the beach. Yippee! Letís go even faster than we have been, because letís face it, no oneís prying off the death grip I have on the saddle anyway. After the sand, the guide announces, weíre done. Weíll be back at the ranch.

Except weíre not. I mean, I can see it in the distance, but ďback at the ranchĒ is relative, and thereís plenty of rough, rider-pitching terrain in between. The guide implores us: ďFaster, Lucrecia. Get with it! Youíre holding up the line.Ē

Because this has been his litany during the entire ride, both Lucrecia and I are pros at ignoring him. He matters not. What matters is the stable. And yet, somehow, the guides are compelled to help everyone else around me off their horses first. Lucrecia continues kicking the other horses for good measure and I begin to see her point. I feel like kicking random passersby as well.

At last Iím free. And in one piece. And I tell Bob that next time thereís horseback riding, he can go alone. In fact, if the last ride out of hell is on a horse, Iíll have to think about it.

Me trying to be open-minded about this whole horse thing (with a horse that is not Lucrecia).

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 3:13 p.m.