Tag Archives: marcnoonan

Chapter 1 -The beginning: Small preview

“As I squatted down in the dirt, trying to make my decision, he stepped toward me, gently pressing his nose on mine until our foreheads touched, from that moment I knew he was the horse for me. Getting to this stage was hard enough but what lay ahead I could never have imagined.”

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The day we met

“Six weeks earlier I had arrived in Cartagena, Colombia searching for a horse. Leads turned to dead ends or poorly cared for animals. As the end of each day gave no results I wondered why in a country where horse is King I could not find even one. Clutching at straws I agreed to meet a young Colombian man who told me he could help, even though he looked more likely to supply me with coca than a caballo. Meeting on a street corner he pulled up on a motorbike. Speeding through the streets on the back of his bike, his Brylcream covered hair slapping me in the face I expected to be heading to the surrounding countryside but no. Deeper and deeper into suburbia, all the while him ignoring my questions. Eventually we stopped in the middle of a badly rundown housing estate and as I jump off, several more guys appear from a battered shack – “ven y mira” they invite me, “buen caballos para te gringo” Nothing about this felt right but screw it, I went in. As I walked in I heard the stamping and snorting, like the equine equivalent of walking into a garage full of revving Ferrari’s. Horses worth tens of thousands of pounds, mostly stallions pacing as much as they could in their tight stables. The air thick with the smell of sawdust and these testosterone filled horses. I tell my new friend that these horses are not what I need, that I need something a little calmer – seemed more appropriate than telling them I was not interested in stolen horses. This did nothing; they pull out the first – a stunning 15 hand Colombian Paso Fino, almost golden in colour, in immaculate condition, the kind of horse that would fetch £20,000.00 back home in England. They saddle him up and jump on trying to keep him still, telling me he is “tranquillo” as he is rearing up on two legs. I ask how much “$5000.00 for you my friend” I tell them this is way over my limit, the price drops by half, eventually it is $1k but still I am not interested and they are getting more and more agitated. I ask about the papers, no problem I am told, he is legal. I eventually get them to put the horse back into his stable. I take one more look in there, mostly out of curiosity, a little to appease them. Telling them thank you but they are too much for me, I will have to think about it. Three of them surrounding me, trying to intimidate me into a purchase, asking what can I afford, how much do I have. Getting closer and louder, watching the gap between them close I just laughed, told them maybe tomorrow and pushed my way out, blinded by the intense midday sun beating down as I open the door. I see the guy that had brought me – I tell him I would walk and didn’t look back.”

“I eventually found Red in a field North of Medellin, he was skin and bone with a shaven mane and an attitude. Our first night camping together was a disaster, unable to get him to settle in a small wooded area I sat up with him all night until I passed out, only waking to see just his head collar hanging from the tree I had tied him to. Soon his character and sense of humour began to show. Sleeping by my side, waking me early by either using my hammock as a scratching post or slobbering all over my face and head, picking up his feed bowl and throwing it at me if ever it was empty. For several weeks I spent all my time with him, training, saddling, grazing, we raced through woodlands and open plains until one night when I knew it was time. I had been stalling for days, knowing that he was as ready as he would ever be, it was not him that needed the preparation but me. All these years I had dreamt of this and here I was on the edge, what I was waiting for I have no idea, nerves maybe, but on the 9th December 2014 we set off. Destination Peru.”

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Halfway through Colombia

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Next week the full first two chapters are to be sent to publishers in the hope to secure a deal so fingers crossed. For now I am working in the UK, getting together the funds I need to be re-united with my friend and continue our journey together. I have made some updates to the site and as always welcome any comments. Also if anyone wishes, the project is still very much alive and your support is always appreciated.  It has been a great start to 2016 and is amazing to see that with your kind support we are making a positive difference to lives around the world.

Thank you all for reading,

Marc

Looking back, moving forward.

” Late in the day and struggling to find anywhere to hide out for the night I asked a restaurant owner if I could spend the night in the field below with my horse. (this is more of a shack than a restaurant) says yes offering me use and the field and the security guards bed for the night on the condition I join him for a drink. I accept but insist on sleeping in the field with Red. Hammock is up and Red has a roll before getting on with eating as much of the field as he can, I head up to the bar. As the daylight disappears the room full of just men, most with well sealed trucks parked on the dirt track infront. Every time I stand to leave another glass of rum is slammed down infront of me along with rowdy cheers and sweaty hugs. machete slaps on tables every time somebody walks in or falls down after too much aguadiente. There is a man keeping himself to himself in the corner, every now and then giving a nod or a shake of the head to the bar. Getting my attention he points to me and with a motion of his finger calls me outside” …

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Going through my notes and loving re-living the trip. Picture above taken from the hammock the morning after. Hoping to get an early start.

Now over six months after returning from South America to UK, sometimes  it is hard to believe what happened last year! The support for the charities continues, in addition to our support of Honduras Child Alliance  together with the child sponsorship program in Oaxaca Mexico,  this month we began  financial support of the Liberty Foundation in Belize.  A pledge of $500  over the next 12 months this will help  this fantastic organisation continue their work with orphaned children, providing education, housing and health care in a wonderful, nurturing environment. I loved my time there and urge anyone interested in volunteering through Central America to check out their page, or drop us a line and we will be very happy to help point you in the right direction.

I speak to my good friends in Ecuador as often as possible and get regular updates on Red. Seems he has not lost any of the strong will that helped us throughout our journey and regularly will jump fences to go exploring. There never was any way of containing him, just one of the reasons why we get on so well. Not a day goes by where he is not on my mind and I am working on saving the funds needed to get him to Europe, or me to South America. This photo below taken just a few weeks ago. You can check out more on the updated Red’s Retirement page.

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Fortunately I found the perfect job to help me get there. I am currently working as a trail guide in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Taking people on guided 2-6 day horse riding holidays. Not as wild as some of the sections through Colombia and Ecuador but equally as stunning scenery.

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Thank you to all for the continued support and contact. Apologies for the slow responses to mails, I will do my best to get to every volunteer request as soon as possible. Next blog I hope to be able to tell you how your support will benefit a project that is very deserving in Colombia and maybe some more from the journal.

As always, thank you for reading

 

Marc

 

“a life to which I feel myself a stranger.” -Swiss Long Rider Ella Maillart

Several months ago I returned home, to my loving family whom have been there with me every step of this journey. Still, months later it does not feel real. Taking in what happened and feeling out of place in my home town. It can be hard to process the changes that occur, not only within but the advances in the “civilised world” wifi, fingerprint recognition, smart phones, faster connections and no, I am not on snapchat. A lot can change in four years. Life seemed a lot more simple out on the road ….. however, I am not missing the chicken soup.

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Red, my horse, I am reliably informed is doing well, I wake every morning thinking of him, sometimes still disorientated enough that I jump up shouting his name, looking for him. He is safe and healthy with the wonderful family I got to spend time with in Ecuador, here he gets to rest and work with the riding school, getting ready for when we carry on where we left off.IMG_0170

Now back in England I have been enjoying speaking to all of the volunteer projects I spent time with from Mexico to Peru and have had the pleasure of sending out funding to these awesome projects.

Several weeks ago we welcomed Jennifer (aged 13) and Emmanuel (aged 7) into our child sponsorship program. Jennifer and Emmanuel are with our fantastic partner organisation Centro de Esperanza Infantil A. C.- Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots In Oaxaca, Mexico. I have just written to them explaining how their sponsorship is possible – because of you. I will be sure to let you know when I receive a response. Also we were able to support a fantastic educational program run by Honduras Child Alliance. With a $500 donation we were able to provide 10 Kindles after hearing this from their dedicated Executive Director “We now are able to get all sorts of books for free or low cost and when we register the Kindles, it means that books are shared on all of the devices and children are able to have a reading group and all be looking at a copy of the same book.  The Kindle-Fires also allow internet access and so we are playing some educational games as well!”

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Volunteering with Honduras Children Alliance

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Next we will turn our attention to Belize and Colombia seeing how best to support these other two incredible organisations. Organisations which make a real difference in young people lives. No agenda, no pretense, just caring people. Exactly what it is all about.On that note I would also like to thank you again. The support that we received throughout our journey was the most humbling experience I have ever felt. You helped make the journey possible for which I am eternally thankful.

Over the next few weeks we shall continue to send out funding to these great organisations. We also are offering something quite unique. A FREE volunteer placement service. No charges, no fees. What we are hoping to achieve is to build a large, skilled volunteer base. People who wish to lend their time to help others less fortunate. All you need do is visit out “how you can get involved” page and we will help finding a placement for you. Already we are making a difference, my hope is that this can continue.

Thank you for reading,

Marc