Tuesday, November 8th
If I were forced to choose, this would probably be my favorite day, a horseback riding and scuba diving epic adventure.
I neglected to mention we rented another car on Monday. Nothing fancy, just the cheapest available. I also forgot to mention, when I finally booked the horseback riding, I was jumping up and down, talking a mile a minute about how excited I was, and how happy I was that Kyle was going. He was pretty amused by my antics. I kept randomly bringing it up for the rest of the day, throwing in a little bounce or silly grin.
Kyle had never been on a horse before and while he will never admit to being scared, he was definitely apprehensive about the idea. It didn’t help matters that the guy at the military base early on in the trip told Kyle that horseback riding in Jamaica was the worst experience ever. Regardless, he agreed to ride out of sheer love and affection for my crazy horse loving soul.
We headed out early making it to the ranch by ten, stopping for breakfast on the way. Linda, from reviews on Yelp and from my impression over the phone, seemed a bit curt. We arrived at the gate to the stable, opened it with the given combination and headed down the narrow dirt road along the country club’s golf course. The stable wasn’t an actual stable, but a collection of paddocks with attached shelters. Everything was a bit run down, but kept clean and the horses were friendly and healthy.
I offered to assist in the grooming. I grabbed some tools from the bucket and started showing Kyle the ropes. He actually helped me out and did quite a nice job. Opal, a gorgeous dapple grey Arabian mare was to be my mount and this beautiful Appaloosa cow horse was to be Kyle’s. A very gentle giant with a kind eye and a very slow speed, something he could handle.
A whole bunch of women showed up. A few of them military or married to military men. (Found out Linda is a retired police officer, certainly explained her somewhat hard exterior.) The woman had a wild collection of stories as well as a great sense of humor. Just took a little while to get it out of her. This group of women was amazing. All steadfast, strong women with their wits about them yet still very friendly. I love these types.
The ride started out at a leisurely walk through a field that lead out to the ocean. We continued up the coast to a gallop spot. Another reason why I was so excited, this place actually lets you run! All the other places have a walking only mandate and that is horribly boring. Plus, I knew Kyle wouldn’t have any fun unless they let us go fast. The horse, perfectly trained, ran when they were supposed to and stopped when they were supposed to. Mine flew like lightning through the sand, while Kyle’s gave a few strides of canter before settling into a brisk trot. I let the wind take me, gave Opal some rein and spread my arms like an eagle. Incredible.
We ended up hanging out at the farm for a while. I spotted a few little babies when riding back and insisted on going out to say hello. Linda kindly offered me some peppermints to give them. They appreciated it. When heading back, one of the woman from earlier was heading out to see her horses. We started chatting and as it turns out, she has a 36 year old retired rodeo horse, gorgeous thing, flecked with grey all over.
At that point, Kyle rushed me along as needed to get a move on to make it to scuba in time. Then, this gorgeous stallion comes cantering across the field with one of the military ladies on his back. Turns out he is a celebrity. He played the black stallion in Hidalgo that nearly won the race. Beautiful animal, and who got to ride him around? Me!
They even let Kyle jump on him and ride around on a lead. As soon as we had dismounted I began to pester Kyle about whether he had a good time and if everything went okay with him and his horse. He had an amazing time! More so because I was having the time of my life, but it was something he enjoyed and would be willing to do again with me. That meant so much to me as horses are a big part of my life.
We headed out, driving rather quick as we were running out of time. We went to the hotel quickly to grab some snacks and supplies for the dive and got to the meet location of Oahu Divers just in time.
Scuba was incredible. The guide, Erik, was super fun and excellent at finding all the little bits of nature tucked away in the coral. Neither Kyle or I are licensed and this was the first time for both of us. We suited up on shore. Mine was way too think and way too big. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but once wet I ended up with a lot of extra fabric bunching up. We got in the boat and had a brief lesson on the air gauge, clearing our masks underwater, protocol and signals under the water and so forth.
I was a little nervous. I was already starting to feel constricted. The suit was uncomfortable, we were sitting very tightly packed in the boat with our vests on, our masks on, the sun shining down on us, and we were facing a 40 foot dive. I felt claustrophobic.
Arriving at the first dive location, two dives in total, Erik summoned me to jump first. I had a hard time waddling over with my heavy tank and flippers, but I made it to the edge of the boat and jumped in smoothly. Protocol was to head to the side of the boat, grab the rope and move towards the back of the boat where the second guide was. I managed to get to him just fine, but then I felt like my mask was slipping. I let go of the rope to fix it and next thing I know there was water in it and I’m trying to breathe out my nose and the guide, who looks like a Russian mobster is forcefully telling me not to let go of the rope and that I need to look at him and listen to him and so forth. Well panic ensues and I felt my breathing go ragged as I struggled to calm down. At that moment I wanted to get out of the water and get that suit off. I nearly did. Had Kyle not been so excited to do this and I knew I’d regret doing it, I would have bailed that instant.
Instead, I took a deep breath, grabbed the rope, and took control of myself. Once I calmed down everything became easy. I eased down the rope, deeper and deeper into the sea off Waikiki. The coral was incredible. It came in sporadic large mounds filled with fish and life.
There were four people who had never dove before, Kyle and I and two girls from Japan. One of the girls flipped out and ended up not going in on the first dive. She made an attempt on the second dive but ended up having to get out. I felt bad for the poor thing. I definitely understood what she was feeling after going through my little episode. The next couple were licensed and on their 7th or 8th dive. Then there was a woman who had done over 300 dives! She was an expert and had her own gear with her and everything. Her one desire on this trip was to see an octopus. Erik made that happen on the second dive.
We were just swimming along and all of a sudden, Erik stops and reaches his arm under a bit of coral and pulls out this bright red octopus. It immediately inks everywhere. The first thought in my mind was the fish school in Finding Nemo and the cute little octopus saying, “you made me ink!” I immediately laughed which was a bad idea as it caused my mask to flood with water. Once the ink cleared and the little guy calmed down, we all got to hold him. He suction cupped onto my arm and did not want to come off.
Post dive, I felt drained. Between getting a little crazy on the first dive, swimming around for two hours, and just the overwhelming sensation of doing something so new, so crazy and so much fun, left my body and mind in need of a rest. I also had quite a bit of fog and stuffiness in my head from the combination of two atmospheres of pressure and getting my head filled with water. Poor Kyle ended up having his sinuses bleed after each dive. He also had difficulty equalizing and came out with some serious ear pain.
I can’t remember if it was this night or the night before, but we went out to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin one of these nights. It is a Japanese place that specializes in fried pork. I did not know that. I saw Japanese on Yelp, high ratings, and I immediately assumed sushi. Well there was no sushi, but it was delicious.
Walking in we were greeted by an entirely Japanese staff, seated and handed a menu also in Japanese and all the customers were Japanese. The waiter kindly asked us if we’ve been here before, no, and offered us assistance if we had any questions. Considering I couldn’t read a thing and the only parts I did understand were pork and the picture of the fried calamari (plus Kyle was really drunk at this point and no help at all) I asked our server if she could point out the house specialties. We ended up sharing the fried calamari, a fried pork entree and Kyle had some sake.
The pork was incredible! The edges were lightly friend with panko breadcrumbs and the meat was tender and juicy. They served it with a special sauce that was sweet and tangy with a hint of spice, miso soup and a cabbage salad. Very pricey place, but super delicious.
All in all, an amazing day.