Wielding a Machete and Racing a Horse

Matt with bananas

Matt with his banana branch that he cut down with a machete. Now, can we actually eat all of those bananas?

It’s all in a day’s work here in Baja…at least for Matt and me.

Machetes abound as the tool of choice for most anyone looking to get work done around here, so when it came time to cutting down the limb of a banana tree in our yard, what better choice than that of the other people of Baja? A machete, of course!

Let’s back up a bit. Two mornings ago, Penny stopped over to visit, was surveying their yard and saw that a limb of a banana tree in their neighbor’s yard was hanging on her and Mike’s property. It just so happened to be the only limb bountiful with bananas. This discovery came after we had just had a conversation about the local market being out of bananas for days in a row. I had also just come from the store with Penny, having bought about 10 bananas, and alas, we see that we have our very own supply, right in our yard.

Penny knew we had to cut down the limb so we could hang it up to ripen, so what other tool than a machete would do the job? Matt did the honors while I did the videofilming. It wasn’t the most efficient cutting job, as it took quite a few hacks to get through the stalk, but he did a fine job without cutting any of his own limbs. He and Mike then strung it up on our upstairs porch for ripening. I would say that Matt’s first job with a machete was a success. Now we just have to wait for the fruit to ripen and see if they are actually bananas after all, or if we in fact have plantains on our hands. Yes, it sounds pathetic that we can’t tell the difference, but hey, at least we figured out how to cut them down and hang them for ripening.

If wielding a machete doesn’t sound all that strange to you, how about racing a horse? For those who know Matt well, maybe that doesn’t sound all that odd either, which maybe says something about Matt…? Either way, we had our second attempt at our version of the Baja triathlon, which was Run, Bike, Horse. Yes, horse. In order for all of us to enjoy the local mountain bike trails that run through the dessert and up into the mountains, we all chose our sport of interest. Matt and I chose to run the trails, Mike chose to mountain bike them, and Penny chose to horseback ride them.

Yes, it was a strange sight to the eyes, and an even stranger sight to us participating in such an event, but it actually worked out quite well and was fun for all parties involved…except maybe for Mike who got a flat tire near the furthest point from home. The regular occurrence of flat tires for Mike was actually a reason the first attempt at the triathlon wasn’t as successful as this second attempt. We’re still working out the kinks, naturally; it’s not every day you organize a triathlon involving a horse.

Back to the triathlon. I set the pace of the pack, with Matt in step behind me, Mike biking in the middle, and Penny on horseback behind all of us. Basically, we were in order of slowest to fastest, but strangely, it worked. Uphills and technical terrain were a bit slower for the bike, so we’d get some distance on Mike before he’d catch up on down and flat, and occasionally hit the brakes to stay behind us. Penny was trying to teach her horse, Sonia, to trot at a good pace without racing people, and to be comfortable around runners and bikes. I have to admit, I was very scared of getting run over by the horse but Penny assured me I was safe. My only experience with horses was in third grade on a Girl Scouts field trip, where I got up on the horse, realized how high up and scary it was, cried instantly, and was immediately taken off the horse, as I refused to go any further on it. I still feel guilty my mom took a day off work to go on that field trip and merely spent the day smelling horse pooh and hay with me.

After about a half hour of trotting behind me, Penny decided to let Sonia lead the pack and open up a little. Can you guess whose ego couldn’t take a horse beating him? Yep. That would be Matt. Little did we expect Matt to be the one we had to hold back from racing Sonia. He at least checked with Penny if it was ok to race next to her. Neither Penny nor Sonia minded at all, and Sonia even seemed to enjoy the competition. Matt loved it, getting beat by the horse on the flat and uphills, and then turning his wheels as fast as he could on the downhills to get ahead of the horse. Mike and I hung back, letting them race it out, and they ran alongside each other for a good 10 minutes before Penny decided to walk Sonia again. Though Matt would have never given up, I think he was happy the race was over and he went back to his regular pace for a while until we all turned around and headed home. Only an optimist like Matt would enter a race with a horse just to see what would happen.

Yes, I know, we are putting in some hard work down here in Baja, with machetes and triathlons filling our days. It is tough work, but we’ll keep making life interesting and living to tell about it.

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