In Junio de ’73 we went with six horses and the four kids and a friend of Jim’s (Gino’s oldest son) across Spain from Pizarra to Pamplona. It was a trip that Marc had suggested after he went with us to Sevilla for the Feria 1969.
After two very heavy years I decided now’s the time for me to get into the act of living once again. And a horse trip sleeping and out all the way and probably taking about 30 days was just the thing. Being on Marejada for five hours a day for thirty days would have been challenge enough but cutting cross country with no roads allowed and carrying whatever with us on a couple packhorses was a challenge indeed.
Barbara was to ride Alexi, as she did on the three days up and three back to Sevilla. An enthusiastic horsewoman she wasn’t. But somehow with what I got involved in she managed to go along with at least once. All was set for our departure vente-uno de Mayo at six in the morning. A huge downpour (early for Málaga) started as we were packing up the horses; saddling. I mean a torrential affair.
The quadra almost immediately became a lake. Barbara said with no if’s and’s or but’s no way am I going to go with you all on horseback for a month. Well, after twenty years with a woman you get to know what you can get away with and what you can’t. This was a definite no no. And at 6:30 am and the downpour outdoing itself, we’d be lucky to get the horses out of the stable without them sinking up to their bellies. To make it to Alora through all those newly plowed orange groves would be like plowing through a sponge where one could lose a horse.
So what to do now? “Okay, here’s what we are going to do, guys and dolls. Unpack the pack horses (general moan from Scott, Lise, Siri, Jimmy and friend). Jim, go get the VW bus (ancient) and bring here into the stable. Barbie, you are as of now off the hook, no riding a horse to Pamplona. You are going to drive the VW with all our packs in it, and bedding and camping supplies, food, horseshoeing, and the works. We don’t need a packhorse to slow us down. You’ll take all the equipment and we’ll be able to ride light. It will be easier by far on the horses and on us.” “No way,” says Madam Hollander. “I am not going to drive this decrepit old wreck to Pizarra, no less 1000 miles to Pamplona alone.” “Who says ‘alone’, my love, your beloved Duchesa (our two-year-old St. Bernard) will be your constant companion.” A scream from Lady B, the tone of which I interpreted as not a definite NO, and possibly we could talk her into this. Which all of us, each in our inimitable fashion did. Then the VW pulled into the stable and everyone started piling things in. Duchesa jumped in and plunked herself down on this mountain of blankets and goodies and Barbara, with having lost another set, resigned but mellow, started coming up with practical suggestions as to what to add to the goodie list. A couple of checked tablecloths, candles, food, staples and delicacies, a more or less complete library (for a VW), down pillows and comforters—yes, all the goodies that had been denied when we were going to use pack horses—were now fair game.
How was this to work? “How,” asked my mate, “am I to take this beat up junk pile, behind you guys who are on horseback? Are you riding on roads?” “Nope,” says I, winging it as my excited brain whirled. “We will ride cross country all the way. You will go by roads. Any passable roads that will take you to the spot on this Firestone map marked ‘X’, our meeting place for each day.”
We finally arrive in Pamplona, days ahead of schedule. We looked for a place to stable, we will truck the horses back. We are stared at with our Andaluz dress: Pamplona has never seen the chaps and riding boots and flat hats outside of a bullring. We can’t believe we made it intact, all with aching muscles, cramps, cuts and bruises but essentially in one piece. Can you blame us for being just a little bit boastful? We complained a lot over aches and pains—the horses kept their opinions to themselves. But like us they must have heaved a collective sigh of relief.
So now on to the corridas; on to the annual insanity known as the Feria de San Fermin.