Day Three was Saturday and yes, I know it's Monday. My brain was fragged yesterday and there was all this talk, talk, talk to be done as I processed what I had experienced. I flew home Sat night into Sun morning. A good idea, but tiring, esp. as the flight was late leaving. The wheels lifted the tarmac some time after 1:00AM Sunday morning. And then I had to switch planes at JFK. And then I had to acclimate myself to the east coast again...but that's a different posting, too.
I ate too much on Friday (I blame the pecans, the tamales, the tuxedo cake, etc.) and paid for it by not sleeping well. So on Sat morning, I was not in any shape/mood to go muck out the stall area. The process reminds me forcibly of scooping kitty litter on a grand scale. You use a larger version of a pooper scooper and a wheelbarrow. The loose dirt is not exactly sand, but neither is kitty litter. The idea is to scoop without removing topsoil. It works. Looks like work, too.
So after some morning writing, lots of coffee, and a very light breakfast, I was pretty much myself again. I spent some time with the horses and then we went off to see more of Tucson's desert with a celebratory lunch at the Museum of the Desert (where I ate much more sensibly). I was under orders from E to obtain 'presents' so I shopped the museum gift shop. (My offerings of tribute were later rejected, but as they consisted mostly of books and t-shirts, that's to be expected.)
I knew as we drove in that I had been to this national park thirty years ago. It was an interesting feeling of same and not same because Tucson has grown quite a bit since then. Houses have been built up to the park gates. But the saguaro were familiar. The layout of the museum was familiar, though I didn't remember the hummingbird exhibit.
After, J drove a loop around the valley and took me to a reservation to see the San Xavier Mission. It sticks up out of the desert and must have been quite a sight in its day, something that could be seen for miles by travelers. It's a beautiful example of baroque decoration and I wasn't prepared for that. It's as good as anything I've seen in Europe and less sterile. It has a constantly-in-use feeling with candles lit on every altar. 'The smell of sanctity.'
Outside the tribe has temporary and permanent stalls. The permanent shops had good examples of local jewelry. I had to keep reminding myself that I didn't have a day job anymore and I was broke, broke, broke for several months yet. The temporary stalls featured 'fry bread' a concoction of the white man's evil sugar, white flour and oil. It's an unleavened flat bread. A tortilla-sized ball of dough is stretched out by hand and then deep-fried. Once cooked, it can be stuffed with beans (healthyish) or drizzled with honey (no redeeming value whatsoever). I had it with honey, of course. That was the point. It appeared that the locals ate it regularly to their detriment. Thank goodness I don't live in Tucson or I would be as big as a house on the stuff. That and the homemade tamales. Chips. Tacos. Burritos. Good mexican food is one of my weaknesses.
We finished our loop, passing the pecan groves in Green Valley from the previous day's excursion. By then it was horse time again. This was my good-bye, so I spent a lot of time offering hugs and scratching. J lunged Pandora and Tia kept trying to butt in on the fun. We tried some boots on Khepera and that was different. They like breaks in their routine. I was beginning to feel real connection to some of the horses, sometimes at different times, some of them at deeper levels. I have to admit Pandora is just about my favorite, though she isn't always interested in me. She's so big and mature and calm that it's hard to believe she was ever considered difficult. She's so happy at DHF. But I don't like to play favorites. Anyone who will talk to me and let me talk to them is my favorite of the moment. I have great shots of Camilla who posed for me and Tia who's a big goof as a 2 year old.
I packed, found room for things, sorted myself out. I'm wondering if the horses will know that I'll come back to see them. J will tell them that I miss them already. A horse is a big commitment, not something I'm willing to take on just now. It's a friend-for-life thing for me, not a piece of sports equipment. I have to be ready to have this friend day in and day out for 20 or more years, assuming I were to find a horse that was already trained. And with this kind of horse, my abilities as a rider would have to seriously improve. These guys are nobility and used to the best. So there would not only be a horse commitment, but one of riding lessons as well. Gee, maybe I can deduct years and years of lessons and horse care as research, ya think? I think my tax adviser would say no.