Horseback riding in the desert and farms outside Arequipa

This was taken after the ride and I’m not looking my very best. It was a nice morning, though Anibal, my guide, was way too forward for me.


This morning I went horseback riding. As a tour goes, I was not the best organized. Somehow I ended up paying for my own taxi home, after walking more than a mile to a place were we could even get a taxi. By that point, I was just ready to go.

But it was an “interesting” excursion, though not for the usual reasons. I was the only rider and Anibal was my guide. His family owns the farm and horses, though he is now living in Germany and only here on vacation. He was a funny guy, but a bit… “charming” ….for my tastes. When I asked the name of his horse, he said, “Nacho. Yo soy macho. El es Nacho.” (Nacho. I am macho. He is Nacho.) He also used the word “stallion” to describe himself, adding some very unambiguous body language, leaving nothing to the imagination. I did get a lot of Spanish practice today. Particularly, I got a lot of practice telling him NO. Fortunately the word is the same in English and Spanish and is recognized in most of the world as a negative response. Not so with Anibal! “Puedes venir a mi casa? Quieres venir a mi cama?” (Can you come to my house? Do you want to come to my bed?) While this is the best offer (of that sort) I’ve had in quite some time, I declined. Repeatedly. He’s a decade younger than I am, so my ego was slightly stroked. Though at the time I was far more wary that he wanted to stroke me!

I did get a free salsa lesson, Though if he stood any closer to me, he’d be behind me.  At my age, you’d think I’d not see this behavior anymore. I, sadly, look a bit matronly. Certainly, not sexy. It was somehow frightening, insulting and nice. Odd.

Honestly, the farm needed some attention. There was a lot of trash about and with all the animals, the smell was strong in places. These silos look like they’ve not been used in years.
The farm also has cows, but it must be a boring life for them in a dry pen. These are mostly steers, ready for market, so perhaps boring is better than what they are facing.

Nacho, saddled and ready to go.
Pedro gets saddled up. He isn’t tall, but I still needed a bench to help me get up. Guess my strength isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe it’s my girth, which is so much more than it used to be? Of course Anibal offered to help push me up from behind. No, thank you.
My horse, Pedro.
Dry. REALLY, really dry. Most of the 2 hour ride, I got to practice my Spanish with Anibal. I’d say a phrase first in English then try to repeat it in Spanish. Of course, I got a lot of correction, but it was a nice additional lesson. I was even serenaded in Spanish.
You can easily see which field is under irrigation and which is not. Anibal rides in front. My horse, Pedro, was 25 years old and only interested in following. He slipped MANY times. Possibly he didn’t enjoy carrying this fat American? While Anibal conceded that Pedro was old, he called his own horse “very young” at 6 years old and gave this as the reason he was so temperamental. Both horses are “castrado,” a new Spanish word for me.

A reservoir in the mid-ground and irrigation channel along the road.
We passed a group of bicyclists, too. The road looks like asphalt, but in this area it’s hard packed dirt and lots of dust. I was covered in it by the time I finished.
Dry. I have never lived anywhere that was so dry. Arid. Desert. Scrub land. D-R-Y
Here, you see one of the irrigation channels running between fields. In the distance are the Chachani mountains.
This is an old rock quarry. Arequipa is called “the white city” mostly because of sillar, the volcanic rock mined here. Most of the farms have stone walls, sometimes 10 feet high, surrounding their property, as well as short walls dividing fields.
Misti volcano, which hasn’t erupted in a few hundred years. Occasionally, you can see smoke from it, however.
The stone wall is made of sillar, a volcanic rock. (pronounced: see YAR)
The only reason that field on the left is green is because of the irrigation channel along the side of the road. I saw a little corn and sorghum (most volunteer), but mostly green peas and alfalfa growing. It’s spring here. I don’t know when they plant crops, nor what types.
Misti Volcano in the distance.
Did I mention it’s dry?
Anibal with Nacho, a 6yo who was very reluctant to go on the ride. Several times the horses were skiddish, but never over the things I thought would bother them. Cars, barking dogs, running children were no issue. Empty houses really bothered them, though, and it was difficult to keep them moving forward.
The horses got a much needed drink after the ride. There was a “problem” with my return transportation which was never quite explained. First we “waited” for my driver to come for about an hour. In the meantime, Anibal gave me a salsa lesson (man, does that guy dance CLOSE). Then he “let” me water and brush down the three horses for the next group of riders in the afternoon. I was covered in horse hair as these had not been properly brushed in a long time.
Pedro, my horse. You can just see to the left, Anibal walking away. He’s words to me were, “You stay. I pee.”
The farm has horses, cows and they grow alfalfa and a few other crops. There’s little pasture land here, because there’s no rain for grass to grow.

In the end, my driver never came. Anibal offered to take me into the house. I was fairly sure I didn’t want to do that. He walked me to the edge of town and offered to take me to lunch. No, really, I was done being asked to come to his bed. It was hilarious the first time, but really annoying by the 12th. So he helped me get a cab (which I paid for, though transportation was supposed to be part of my tour).


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I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

One thought on “Horseback riding in the desert and farms outside Arequipa”

  1. Sounds like an interesting ride 😶 would have been nice if you didn’t have to fight off sexual advances the whole time!

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