Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It makes you appreciate things

When you travel to less fortunate countries. Two years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Cuba with the music department. Where it was an amazing trip, I couldn't help but feel devastated at every turn when I saw poor, emaciated and in many cases miserable horses struggling to work through the day. Everything from cart horses to pull tours to horses that are actually the people's mode of transportation to ponies being galloped around the marketplace.

Now, I had such torn feelings. One one hand, these poor animals are in horrible conditions... but on the other hand, the people can't help it. They rely on these animals to get them places (and I saw many a yearling or YOUNGER pulling a cart), to get them to the small jobs they have, and they don't have access to food for THEMSELVES, never mind the animals.

And the arguments that work here don't apply there, either! You can't say "well if you can't afford them, don't get an animal" because without these wondrous animals these people would most likely die from lack of funds. Yes, Cuba is communist... but in order to get your "fair share" in a communist country, you need to do your part for society. To do this, they need to get to their jobs or work their fields, and to accomplish that they need these animals because cars are NOT readily available to citizens there. What cars are available aren't very new, either.

Sometimes, such as the case with tour guides, the horses ARE the people's job. No horses... no job... no money, no food, no clothing, death.

It was a very life-changing experience. I would go back there any day, I had so much fun... but that was a big turn-down. I just felt like sharing. Witnessing animals in this condition so first-hand really gave me a huge kick to step forward into actively helping the ones it was possible to help.

And to lighten the mood, my favorite picture from that trip... me standing fully clothed out in the ocean.


  1. Mel,
    It is an eye-opener, that's for sure. I actually think there are more horses (and animals in general) in the world who live lives like you wrote about than there are horses who live like we would expect them to, in places like Canada or the U.S. It's so sad. Makes me want to run out and hug my fellas. And you're right...it should move all of us to do our part in our corner of the world. In whatever way we can.

    Did someone throw you in the ocean fully clothed or did you soak yourself and the day's apparel willingly? :) You look happy, so either way I'll bet you had fun. I think that Cuba sounds like it was a perfect trip. You had a lot of fun and also a look at a different culture and standard of living that moved and changed you. Now THAT'S a fruitful trip.

    Hawaii soon, right?

  2. Four days =)

    Yeah, it really was an amazing experience, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am SO glad to have taken it.

    I went in willingly haha. It was really hot outside and we stopped on the beach and I saw fish, so I went to go swim with them for the hell of it.

  3. Nice post, Mel.
    So sadly true. You can't just judge people, without knowing their circumstances.
    They need to eat, too.

    Poor critters, hard working, noble souls..

  4. I learned the same thing when I went to Costa Rica. Also, the tropical grasses don't have as much nutrition. I saw skinny horses in belly high grass all over the country. The fat ones were fed hay from the high country.
    Saw a lot of skinny people and kids, but was vastly impressed by the loving care most children and elderly received. It's quite an education about how much difference an imaginary line on the face of the planet can make.
    Looks like you had a great time, and your observations are always very on target and fair. I'm way impressed! Have fun in Hawaii...

  5. This is a good lesson in learning how to not think but SEE outside the box. I am so glad you shared this with us, I learned alot.

  6. Knock, knock... anyone home????

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  8. Good post, Mel. In many ways, taking care of animals is a luxury. I have a hard time getting out of my cultural mindset of treating animals like family, like children. It isn't doable in many places in the world.

    Say, who's running the Tupperware party? I have things I want to get...