We’ve been pinching our pesos all year now, but with the season of conspicuous consumption upon us, we decided to treat ourselves to a Christmas present. It happened by chance mind you, one afternoon when Katie was buying a kilo of goat cheese from some dude on the beach. She meant to ask him, in her ever improving Spanish “ how many goats do you have?” He responded by saying, in Spanish, that they had many and began to pantomime how they rode them, and that we too, for a small price, could ride them as well.


Soon thereafter, Katie realized the error in vocabulary; she had said “caballos” (horses) when she meant to say “cabras” (goats). By the time we got it all figured out, we had agreed to meet Marcelo the goat rancher at the gas station the next morning to ride some sort of farm animal, yet to be determined.


The next day proved blustery and cold, and we met Marcelo at his truck, he in his boots and wranglers and sombrero, and I in my Patagonia down jacket, nylon pants, and Nikes, the best I could muster for ranching apparel. We drove up the arroyo twenty minutes to his ranch, learning as much as we could about each other, all relying on my limited Spanish skills to stave away the silence as we bounced down the dirt road three in the front seat.

Finally we arrived, and after assessing that it was my first time riding, and that Katie used to guide horse trips, Marcelo gave me the reins of Ture the mule and Katie got Vagabundo the 9 year old gelding. We picked a few oranges from the nearby trees and we set off into the desert. We climbed through the arroyos, stopped and marveled at cave paintings, and sauntered through a lush Sonoran desert bottom. It was an incredible way to explore at a different pace and from a different angle. All the while we were able to pick Marcelo’s brain about what we were seeing around us and the history of the place, something we’ve lacked on our previous desert journeys.

Christmas came a few days early for us, and we were overjoyed that we didn’t come away with worthless trinkets or meaningless material goods. What we came away with was an incredible experience in a beautiful place alongside a newfound friend. Oh yeah and a kilo of cheese, in fact, the best damn horse cheese we’ve ever tasted!

If you’re ever near Mulege or Playa Santispac and want to explore a little further afield, ask around for Marcelo.