As part of my travels around the beautiful continent of South America, I decided I wanted to work with horses. I had volunteered before in South Africa and I wanted to really work this time in return for food and accommodation. I had a romantic notion of paying my way through my passion and not my day job.
I found my 'job' through a Chilean website, similar to 'woofing'. I was to work in a 'campo', a Chilean ranch and take tourists on beach and mountain rides. The ranch itself was stunningly beautiful, near an area that had been devastated by a tsunami caused by one of the many frequent earthquakes. The job would entail using another one of my newfound passions, Spanish. The owner of the campo did not speak any English and so the whole job would be understood in Spanish! A long way from the healthcare worker in Rainy Manchester England, I was now a Spanish speaking 'Gia', Guide, in Spectacular, sunkissed, isolated, Chile. The ocean more than once threatened to crash down on me and my little lead mare mountain horse. If I did get consumed by the fierce waves, I would forever be the new alter ego version of myself, speaking Spanish and riding horses on the most turbulent, long-reaching shore of this long and winding country, Chile.
I enjoyed my days looking after around 30 beautiful horses, the tourists who paid for beach rides and a one-year-old mule who would escape and greet me and the ride each day when we returned with a huge ''eeee aaaawww eeee aaawww! ''
I fell in love with her and one of the guide horses a beautiful 17 hand Hanovarian named 'Lluvia' meaning rain in Spanish, rescued after a showjumping injury. Lluvia loved her new lease of life. One of the most spectacular rides of my life was galloping with Lluvia along the beach, my arms outstretched flying across the sandy beach as the locals looked on.
Riding past the local houses, an elderly gentlemen befriended me due to his love of the horses I rode with past his house each day. He would talk passionately in one of the little houses not crushed in the recent tsunami, about his time as a Chilean cowboy while offering me tea and dressing me in a poncho and cowboy hat. My time past and inevitably I had to return to my real life leaving my beautiful Lluvia and my little mule behind... But, I will always have these memories and because of that there will always be a part of me that is the Spanish speaking 'Gia' riding horses for a living flying arms outstretched across a chilean beach somewhere...
If you haven't been to South America do yourself a favour and go, Chile and Patagonia are stunningly beautiful and full of adventure.
Horses always lead me to the most beautiful places in the internal and external world. I am extremely grateful for the beauty they lend us and the experiences they give us.