Tuesday, April 13, 2010
How I Stay Sane and Keep Writing: My Waterfall Horse Valley Run
I love travel writing but what people tend to look over is that over half of the job is spent sitting in a chair typing (or, more realistically, gazing blankly) at a computer. Hours and hours of this takes massive amounts of self-motivation stamina and I've found that the only way I can hack it is to get out of the binding chair and exercise daily.
We don't have a gym or anything way out here in the Teahupoo sticks but there are plenty of ways to get the blood pumping. My easy-out especially when I'm on a deadline, is a jog straight out my front door and through my friend's private, gated waterfall valley. It's not just the movement that ignites my brain cells, it's the incredible natural beauty of the place and the local livestock characters I get to meet along the way.
After walking down the main road and saying hello to whatever locals are hanging out by the beach and at Teahupoo's local cafe, I turn into the secret valley. The real beauty starts at a fruit-tree planted area where about 10 horses roam free. I then cross a little river (that can get un-crossable when it rains) and through another gate into a second horse valley. This area is planted with lemon trees and the owners also keep bees here. The horses in this valley are more wild and because of that, I like them more. There are about four foals right now and, although foals are usually skittish there's one that has started being my friend and nuzzled me today with his soft warm nose. There's also Chocolate, the only pony who often comes over to see if I've brought him anything to eat (he's the brown and white guy in the picture).
The only valley animals I am not friends with are the cow and the pig who, it can be said have a "special" relationship. There used to be two cows and two pigs but I think the owners killed and ate one of both. Now the remaining cow keeps a low profile and the pig has decided to act as the bovine's bodyguard. If I see the cow I know the pig is nearby. Our relationship was forever changed for the worse when I surprised the pig once at a bottle-neck between a cliff and the river - the pig charged me. I managed to scramble down the bank towards the river to get out of his way but the "I'm going to fuck you up" look in the pig's eyes is something I'll never forget. The cow (who must weigh hundreds of pounds and has big horns) just watched on disdainfully.
So, once I've passed the cow and pig hurdle I get to the end of the valley where my bravery is rewarded by a waterfall tumbling into a glass-clear stream. Sometimes I stop here and just absorb the energy for a few minutes before turning around to affront my livestock nemeses again for the return.
With all this action I admit, my run is pretty wimpy. I walk a bit, I jog a bit and I stop to pat my horse friends on their noses. But it's an hour of movement, out of my uncomfortable chair and blissfully away from the human world. After this I'm as ready as I'll ever be to tackle the day's work, sit in my uncomfortable chair and stare at a computer screen for hours.