I shoulda been a cowboy

 

For my first morning at the hacienda, I got up early to help herd the horses from the pastures back to the stables for the day. Since I've only been on a horse once in my life (gracias, Texas), I faked some level of confidence. It must have been convincing, since we quickly picked up the pace to a brisk trot. Here's the thing about horses that I knew, but didn't really know. They bounce. A lot. My poorly cushioned backside was not ready for this. I hurt so much.

After scarfing down an absurdly delicious breakfast, I jumped back onto the horse (both figuratively and literally) and Felipe took me out to the Andean condor rehabilitation project located on the estate. Yann, a refreshingly tall French biologist who manages the condor program and a number of other conservation projects, introduced me to the 7 condors they currently have in captivity and the monitoring program for the wild condors. He also set camera traps for spectacled bears that take better pictures than I do. It was really nice to hang out with a biologist again for a little bit and talk shop.

We took the scenic route back to the hacienda through the pastures where, in addition to the hundreds of dairy cows, there are dozens of Caranqui pyramids dotting the valley. What I assumed were oddly placed hills are actually remnants of a pre-Inca civilization! Archeologists periodically come to study the site. One time they found a bowl and were, according to Yann, weirdly excited (I'm sure it was a legitimately cool find... probably).

Even though it was raining a good portion of the afternoon, Sebastian invited me to meet one of the local women for the 4 o'clock milking. The Hacienda allows members of the community to keep their cows on the pastures, but unlike the Hacienda cows, these are manually milked. So after watching her technique, I was able to try milking the cow, Filatina, myself. I've gotta say, y'all, I wasn't half bad at getting to second base with a cow. I even got a slightly shocked "muy bien!"

It was a good day... I like Zuleta so much!! More things to come soonish

I got to wear chaps! Pants were required as well.

I got to wear chaps! Pants were required as well.

This cow has the BEST cow lick

This cow has the BEST cow lick

Everything a llama does is funny. Everything.

Everything a llama does is funny. Everything.

Pyramid on the right

Pyramid on the right

Condors drying their feathers after the morning rainstorm

Condors drying their feathers after the morning rainstorm

Filitina being milked

Filitina being milked