The rules said nothing about a horse or its tail


You can read my interview with Álvaro Pachón (which does not include this incident) here.
By the way, it's worth mentioning that the climb where this incident took place (called Letras) is over 50 miles long if you go up the whole way. It rises from 600 to 3,600 meters in elevation.





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Off topic:


Today in the United States, we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Having not grown up with this holiday, the whole thing is absolutely meaningless to me. Come to think of it, even the holidays I grew up with are largely meaningless to me as well. I do have one memory of Thanksgiving, which I think about often around this time of year. Allow me to share it with you.

After two years of living in the United States, my father, a mechanical engineer who spoke multiple languages, was still unable to find work aside from packing eggs, and doing hard labor at a coal sorting facility. He did both jobs with pride, but struggled with the fact that he didn't make enough to feed our family of five. Not even close. Our savings were depleted, and things were getting worse...particularly for my parents.

Two years into this situation, we found ourselves living in a two bedroom apartment with another family. Twelve of us lived there (something I've mentioned before on the blog). Times were tough.

My aunt decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner that year, to which she invited us and other members of our family. No one in my immediate family wanted to attend, my parents included. Our collective mood was at an all-time low, and since the holiday meant nothing to us, we'd much rather sit and stare at a wall somewhere than attend. But my aunt wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

As we sat down to eat, all the adults were given a chance to say what they were thankful for. Some spoke of sizable bonuses at work, new homes, cars and trips. When it was my father's turn, he said he'd rather pass, and told my elder cousin to continue. My aunt said he was not allowed to pass, "you have to be thankful for something", she said in an accusatory tone.

My father declined again, but she wouldn't let it go. He was clearly not in the mood. None of us were. He took a deep breath, and in a determined but solemn tone said,

"I'm thankful for the fact that I can't afford to feed my family, or pay for us to have a place to live. Amen." He looked at my aunt, "Are you happy now?"

The room got quiet. And in that moment, father became a bit of a hero to me. Perhaps that speaks to my rather dark sensibilities, but I nodded in approval.