Thursday April 3 2008
Smooth sailing day - 19 riders on a trail that had a minimum of climbing throughout the day, mostly dirt tracks running along gentle rolling hills of wheat fields and olive groves. We passed men plowing their fields with small motorized hand plows, people harvesting olives, and one farmer stockpiling onions by the road - leaving a delicious aroma in the car long after we passed.
Picturesque finish line 60 km later, underneath a 1560 convent, overlooking a narrow valley of olive trees. Awaiting the humans inside the church, a concert cellist played, the beautiful classical music filling the nave and echoing throughout, a fine aural backdrop for another great meal of elaborate tapas, shrimp, beer, wine, and cold drinks. What a great idea, and what a treat. I sat closely on the old marble steps to listen.
In the evening was a special dinner at a golf club resort, and even the Raven dressed up and made an appearance.
After a quick rider briefing, we were served a fabulous 4-course and 3-glass dinner for over 200 guests: tapas, salmon mousse, divine duck (don't know I've ever had it, but it's one of the best things I've had) and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and peas and zucchini, with creme something for dessert. (If it says 'creme' in the name, you know it will automatically be exceptional.) Each course was served so smoothly and efficiently, and the glasses kept filled, you didn't notice there must have been dozens of waiters and waitresses working the room.
José Soto - one of Spain's famous flamenco singers, and the creator of this Al-Andalus ride - stepped to our table and toasted to the Americans, Germans, Kiwis and Spanish sitting together, and then led a toast to the entire room of Al-Andalus friends. We responded with a standing toast and ovation, a salute in concert to the endurance ride that brought all of us, old and new friends from around the world, together here in Andalucía. It was a perfect follow-up after yesterday's chaos.
More stories and photos: www.endurance.net/merri
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Posted by The Equestrian Vagabond at 2:10 AM