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14 March, 2007
Ron and Kathy had told us about a day out that we could take from Villamil, where a truck drove you up to the volcano and stopped at a place that had horses. You then rode for a couple of hours right up the side of this enormous volcano, left the horses and hiked the last bit. This seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, especially as it only cost US$20 a head for the whole day. About a dozen of us assembled together one morning and off we went. The drive alone would almost have been worth it because it was astonishing how many different landscapes were packed into such a short distance. From the dry, rocky coastline, we drove through a cactus filled landscape before rising through lush rain forest, finally emerging in green, well-wooded country. Here we took to our mounts. The horses were nice little animals, but there were a few concerned looks at the accoutrements: the bridles consisted of a length of polypropylene rope wrapped over the ears and round the lower jaw before ending in reins. The saddles were some sort of pad, with a bit of loose padding held on insecurely with leatherette. Stirrups were home made on rope strops. We could already feel tomorrow’s discomfort before we mounted. But these saddles proved to be a great surprise – they were superbly comfortable and I don’t think anyone felt sore the next day.