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[RC] Tierras de al-Andalus - Day 4 - Steph Teeter

WOW!!! what an incredible ride today! We started at Montemedio - one of Spain's largest equestrian centers (also the finish for yesterday's ride) and rode through an awseome ranch as the sun came up - hundreds of cows and bulls, rolling grassy fields bounded by stone walls and prickly pear (cactus) fences. We wound through the ranch, riding into the rising sun, and crested a hill to view a fantastic valley - with thousands (at least!) of huge wind-mills (wind turbines). Paco broke out in song at the top - "I am I Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha, ... my destiny calls and I go .. And the wild winds of fortune will carry me onward, oh whithersoever they blow..." - and explained how Don Quixote and the story by Miguel Cervantes so perfectly embodied the essence of Spain, of the Spaniards. Not always the most pragmatic people - but always with spirit, and corazon, and bravado, and willing to fight windmills if necessary, or even if not necessary... . and Sancho Panza, the humble and dedicated friend always loyal, always to help and protect. There's certainly some merit to this! These people are most definitely spirited and so incredibly warm and friendly. And they do have their own pace... some things you just can't rush, not until the last glass of wine has been emptied after lunch. So quick to smile and laugh, and I'm starting to appreciate their humor - very ironic and dry. Lovely lovely people, and lovely lovely country!

After the ranch we rode across meadows in the wind turbine forest. There was no wind so they were all still. I absolute love these things - to me they are works of art - so towering, and white, and elegant. We rode around a small village and through more meadows and flowers and had a nice vetcheck in a small forested area. Chorizo sandwiches, drinks. Fernando and Texano and Madonna and Paul were there to help crew, so much appreciated! After the vetcheck we started riding into a string of mountains, the only thing separating us from Algecira and the Straights of Gibraltor... The mountain trail was astounding - yellow flowering bushes smelling so sweet, knarly trees - Paco told a story about the trees - they used to be so thick that 'a squirrel could travel across the mountains to the water without touching the ground' - but then during Spain's conquest period, the forests were harvested to build boats and wagons and everything that a huge army would need. There were still some big beautiful trees - but much more open space. Stoney meadows and rock walls. lots of creek crossings. Beautiful!!! We eventually rode down out of the mountains to Algecira for the finish. (down and down and down forever on a hard packed road) - but the views of the bay, and the ROCK OF GIBRALTOR (I still can't believe I'm here) and the Altas Mountains across the straights in Africa... it made up for the tedium of the road.

We both finished - Paco's stallion (Ibor) did well today. Paco didn't ride yesterday, to give him a day to rest and re-hydrate. Today he did great. My mare did well, but she has an interference sore on her inside right fetlock, getting worse, and she was a little sore. We iced it and represented and she looked good - so we finished, but we'll have to take good care of it. She'll have the day off tomorrow, we'll do lots of ice and keep it clean, and hopefully we can go out again the next day. I want to keep riding!!! Jose Manuel Soto - who is the mastermind of this event (he's a well known singer in Spain) told me that it just keeps getting more beautiful as we ride into the mountains... I can't wait!

Gotta go - off to briefing and evening meetings - will try to post more later.

Steph

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