This year was my first Fourth of July not in the good old United States of America in as long as I can remember. Blame my friend Vanessa, who invited me to stay at the famed hotel, the Cotton House, on the Caribbean island of Mustique – land of Mick Jagger, Bryan “Everything I do, I do it for you” Adams and Tommy Hilfiger. Obviously, I said yes. I mean — who doesn’t love Bryan Adams? That, and it’s a fricking secluded small island that just smells like somewhere a James Bond villain would have their lair.
I mean, come on. Who’s gonna say no to that? Not me.
“What would you like to do while you’re there?” Vanessa asked.
“Um, nothing?” I said. “Swim. Eat. You know. hang."
And then she told me you could horseback ride. In the ocean.
You have to understand, I was obsessed with The Black Stallion as a kid, so when I heard I could ride a horse in the ocean and swim with it, just like young Alec and The Black, I was like “HECK YES!”
Related: Swimming with Manatees in Mexico
I had visions of me riding gracefully atop a horse swimming in the ocean, kicking aside sharks as my hair flowed in the wind while the theme music to “Chariots of Fire” played in the background. In my mind I looked I should be on the cover of a romance novel. Kind of like this:
Or something like this:
Photo: Mustique Island.
In reality, even though I wasn’t in the States, it was still the Fourth of July so I was representin’, if you will, with my Stars and Stripes bathing suit (there went the romance novel cover). And, due to the Mustique Equestrian Center’s safety regulations and insistence that I wear a helmet, pants and rubber wellies, and the fact that it was hot as heck and thus my hair was up in a bun, I looked like this:
Photo of Paula and Pi the Lazy: Paula Froelich.
Not exactly cover girl material, but who’s gonna quibble with a few basic facts?
No, there was no music. Nor am I particularly graceful. especially in an English saddle. My hair didn’t flow down my back and I didn’t magically turn into Kate Upton with some hot muscular dude lingering behind me on his own horse (see photo above). Instead, I had Liz Saint, who runs the Equestrian Center, and CJ, who works there, behind me. Nor did my horse, Pi, really swim all that much. He was a lazy sort (so yes, we did bond in the way that sometimes animals and people who are spiritually similar do) and preferred to ramble along in the water, hoofs on sand, while making really odd noises with his mouth.
"You hear that?” Liz said.
“Um.. yeah,” I said. “What the heck is that?”
“He’s basically orgasming.”
"Oh yes,” Liz went on, “horses are natural swimmers, just like dogs you see, and love the water. So swimming for them brings them such pleasure it’s like an orgasm.”
Just then Liz’s horse, who was in front of me, took a dump. A large floaty one that went on my pants and into my Wellies.
“Dammit, Pi,” I said, “Stop having an orgasm and move it! I swear I will kill you and eat you in a horseburger if you don’t move!”
For once, Pi the lazy listened and we started to swim, and it was magical. I forgot the heat of the day, and I think I did hear the “Chariots of Fire” theme song for just a few seconds before Pi went back to the sand bar.
He moved. Finally. And we swam. Well, more like waded. But it was enough. No, I didn’t meet Mick Jagger or Bryan Adams. Nor did I find a James Bond villain lair. But I had my Black Stallion moment. And it was fabulous.
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