I don’t spend all of my time in the Arctic; Mexico is high on my list of favourite countries. But don’t expect to find me lazing on a beach, quaffing margaritas.Take me to a remote area in the mountains north of Mexico City, put me on a horse, and let a week of bliss unfold.
Rancho las Cascadas has it all: horses for every kind of rider, luxurious accommodations, pleasant scenery and wonderful staff, most of whom are monolingual Spanish speakers, but we manage to communicate well. And it’s also close enough to the World Heritage city of San Miguel de Allende to allow a day visit.
Here are some highlights from the week.
Cascada, of course, is Spanish for waterfall, and there are several that one can visit on horseback, as well as this one just below the main lodge.
I love the way small spaces are turned into beautiful places that invite you to pause, relax, and reflect on the pleasures of life.
The main ranch house is large, but the spaces carved out in it are small and intimate, like the covered porch below. At one end, this cozy seating area, at the other, tables where we ate breakfast.
The welcoming sign in San Miguel says that the city is Mexico’s gift to the world. With steep, narrow cobblestone streets and colonial architecture at every turn, this is a place to savour slowly.
But I came for the riding. No nose-to tail horse parades here. The horses love to run, and in hot months, one can also take them swimming.
The countryside is open, sparsely populated except for small villages where one can stop for a beer. A full-day ride will take you into the mountains, but I prefer to ride two or three hours in the morning, return to the ranch for lunch, and then ride again in the afternoon.
The wranglers are local men who know the country and take excellent care of the horses.
What a misnomer! Versace is a scrawny, scruffy horse that loves to run like the wind but is also happy to walk all day with eyes at half mast. He was the perfect mount for a woman whose idea of haute couture is a tee shirt and jeans, and who has reached an age where galloping is decidedly unwise.