| SARA ERNEST
DREAM VACATIONS. We’ve planned them out in our minds for months or years until everything falls into place and we’re finally able to turn those dreams into reality. My partner Lori and I finally, after six years, had the chance to realize one of our dream vacations.
We had been talking about going to Puerto Rico since one of Lori’s co-workers took a trip there and told us about the bio-luminescent tour that she had taken. It sounded like an incredible experience and immediately went onto my bucket list.
A week and a half before we were set to leave, I developed such intense back pain that I could hardly move. Putting on shoes and socks became adventures in contortionism, and I had to sit on the floor in front of the dryer in order to fold my clothes. How was I going to ride a horse in paradise and fulfill my dreams of island cowgirl adventure?
Getting to Puerto Rico was one of the worst travel situations we’ve ever been in, which didn’t help my back, and we were supposed to go on our trail ride bright and early the morning after we got there. I was devastated.
I soldiered on, though, and we showed up for our trail ride as planned. Walking up the driveway to the riding company started to ease the pain in my back to the point that I knew I would be OK if I just focused on how incredibly beautiful our surroundings were. Lori and I are both suckers for an island vacation, and experiencing it in person made me understand why Puerto Rico’s slogan is Isla de Encanto, or Island of Enchantment.
We started the ride and saw some really incredible things. Who knew that on a clear day it is possible to see the Virgin
Islands from Vieques, Puerto Rico, 45 miles away?
Around the halfway point in our adventure, I fell off my horse. It was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life. My horse got spooked, and suddenly, I was on the ground.
It happened so fast that there was nothing that I could do to stay in my saddle. It was a Looney Tunes moment: you know, the Wile E. Coyote cartoons, where he’s chasing the Road Runner and runs right off a cliff and then hangs there before he falls? That’s how I envision my fall off the horse.
I got up and took stock of my situation. I’m really glad that I was wearing a helmet because otherwise I probably would have gotten a concussion. As it was, I ended up pulling some muscles in my neck and back and had a touch of a headache for a while. I was covered in dirt and a little trepidatious, but the first thing I did was jump right back on that horse. The women from the riding company told me I was on my way to being a real cowgirl now that I had taken my first spill. The women said to be a real cowgirl you have to fall of your horse at least 30 times. I’m satisfied with once.
From this point, we rode through a dried-up riverbed onto a black sand beach, which, as it turns out, was yet another thing on my bucket list. The final stretch was riding through the pasture where the horses are kept, which prompted both Lori and myself to say that, in our next lives, we wanted to come back as horses who work for this riding company.
I guess what it comes down to is that sometimes in life we fall off horses. Most of the time, it’s not a bad thing. Granted, it’s not fun, but getting back up on the horse can show us how strong we are and lead us to some of the most beautiful moments of our lives.