Even though we know nothing about horses, we were immediately captivated by this handsome man and his team. Here we were in the sunshine, sipping pisco sours, nibbling on the yummiest of snacks in an elegant hacienda whilst five talented caballeros led their Paso horses through the most tricky demonstration of their skills.
The particular characteristics of this breed of horse, native to Peru, were explained to us. Forgive me if I share only the most basic, for I’m sure those equestrian experts out there know a great deal more than I do! What we learned was that the unusual gait of the Paso horse means that the rider doesn’t bob up and down but remains still and level, even when trotting or galloping.
They have a narrow face, hold their heads high and because they live in a sandy environment, are not fitted with horseshoes. Their hooves are hard enough to withstand that.
Cue the “aaawwww” moment! A one month old foal was brought to show us that these horses really do walk in this way from birth, that it’s not training or learned behaviour but a genetic characteristic.
A one year old was brought for us to admire. These horses were so beautifully groomed and well behaved, it was impossible not to love them.
As they went through their paces, though, we smiled because number 4 was the skittery one, the horse which didn’t quite want to keep in step with the others, who preferred to do a little jump here and there. We soon discovered why.
He wanted to dance! We’d watched the couple perform a traditional dance our there on the sand, but now, it was the horses turn to dance with the beautiful young woman. They performed a dance involving the waving of handkerchiefs which had been introduced to Peru by the slaves, most of whom originated from Angola. (who knew?)
The show was brought to a close and it was time for lunch. Well, it was around 4pm and yes, maybe we were a little peckish! I loved the decorated tree on the buffet table – oh, those little hats!
Each one, no more than three inches in diameter, perfectly woven from the finest straw and a slight variation in shape from the panama hats we are all wearing. Beautiful!
The dancers returned for another colourful show as we tucked into a fabulous assortment of traditional Peruvian dishes – quinoa, cornbread, a kind of quiche and the most delicious lime dessert which could have been a variation on a posset. Need to investigate that one!
Before we left, there was time for those braver members of the party to have a go at riding one of these beauties. Needless to say, we declined!
And that was that. 5pm and really, time to get back to the ship, along the Pan American Highway again, driving north against all the weekenders travelling to the beaches south of the city for the weekend.
Past the squatters settlements on the sand dunes – goodness knows what happens here when El Nino arrives?
And back to the ship for one last evening. Those Tsunami signs are another reminder of how fragile life is in this part of the world. Apparently, Lima experiences some kind of seismic activity most days. I hope the big one doesn’t happen when we are in residence!
It’s now Saturday morning, our internet has been switched off and we are packed and ready to leave. We’ll go and find some breakfast in a while, say goodbye to our friends and wish them bon voyage. Whilst we’re envious of those who will stay on board until Buenos Aires, we’re also excited to begin the next part of our trip, to Machu Picchu.
I hope you’ll come along with us?