Not only was the landscape incredibly beautiful, it is home to an amazing array of wildlife. I saw tricolored herons and little blue herons, and egrets. I saw ducks and turkey vultures and tiny deer. I even saw a giant ball if tiny fish circle-gliding through the shallow water.
But the highlight of the trip was the wild horses. My host, Patty Dean, said the horses are usually easy to spot. But not when I was there. Perhaps the cold, rainy weather was to blame.
After much looking, I finally spotted one off in the woody scrub. Author-illustrator Shelley Rotner and I jumped out of the car and set off on an adventure. We had no idea how close we could get to the animal, so we snuck slowly, carefully toward it, trying not to frighten the animal. We knew it might flee at any moment, so we snapped photos with almost every step.
Finally, I had to make a decision. If I wanted a full view of the majestic animal, I was going to have to walk into the muddy swamp. Would my foot get sucked under? Would I lose a shoe? Should I risk it?
Of course, I should. That mud was cold and smelly. Really smelly. But it was totally worth it.
I thought about trying to touch or pet the horse, but I remembered what guides had told me about swimming with sea lions when I was ion the Galapagos Islands. "It’s fine if they touch you, but don’t touch them. Remember, they are wild animals. They might seem calm and friendly, but they could bite at any moment.” I didn’t want to disrupt the week with a trip to the emergency room, so I kept my hands to myself.
Can you believe I got this close to a wild horse? It was a moment I’ll never forget.