The odd things that happen in Spain. Yesterday we went to Almería to pick up two friends and to continue on to the Province’s other big city, El Ejido. Just along from our first destination is a feed store, so we stopped there for a few things, including happening on a clip to hold the dog safely in the car – the police being very keen on stopping you these days if your pet isn’t properly secured.
Next door at the stables, we transferred to Loli’s car, and four of us boarded along with two miniature ponies and a baby sheep that happened to be loitering nearby. The ponies jumped into the rear of the vehicle without much prompting. Noticing my surprise, Loli told me she once went to some children's pet-show with no less than eighteen critters in her buggy, including ponies, tortoises, chickens, rabbits and a slightly bilious coatimundi.
Today, we were off to a party for disabled children given by a physiotherapist called Beatriz, who with Loli and Barbara, makes up the senior members of Animo.
Loli’s vehicle has tinted rear windows, so our load of horseflesh was safe from the public eye, as long as our passengers didn’t neigh too loudly. Unfortunately, one of them was minded to produce ear-splitting whinnies through most of the trip, which included the part where we drove across the city of Almería.
I had the window down (to combat the smell – Dutch ponies can be stinky in confined quarters, especially after breakfast). We arrived at the lights at one point just as another shriek came from somewhere in the rear of the vehicle. A man in the car next to us looked up in horror. All he could see was Loli and me. ‘She’s had this cold for weeks’ I told him gamely ‘nothing seems to shift it’.
It was a good day with the children in El Ejido. We gave them rides on the ponies and told them stories about the sheep, a black and white male that stuck firmly beside Loli during the entire experience, as if his friend could somehow explain what the whole thing was about. A Wise King showed up towards the end of the afternoon and pulled presents out of a sack on the back of one of the ponies. Each child got a calendar decorated with his or her photo (I got one of me posing with our chicken, Maude). Barbara and Loli, co-writers of Manual Básico de la Hípica Terapéutica, both received hard-covered printer’s copies of their book.
Once again wedged into the car and lulled into drowsiness by another sustained chorus of bellows, we returned safely past any and all police check-points to the stables in Almería and, transferring to our vehicle, we continued home, the car full of tomatoes from El Ejido, some grain for our horses and a box of mixture for Maude.