I was about 35 when I experienced my first Mule Ride.
Rather naive I thought that it would be uneventful,
but that is my nature.
The day began rather pleasantly
with a leisurely breakfast
of fresh island papaya,
macadamia nut pancakes
and piping hot Kona coffee at the Midnite Inn.
located in the sleepy one horse town of Kaunakakai.
Molokai, the Friendly Isle,
was a place we had reroofed a lot of the local Church’s.
We decided on this day to play tourist
along with my father in law and
mother in law; visiting from the mainland.
Today we would venture down
to Kalaupapa on a mule.
We were intent
on visiting the leper colony
on the isolated northern peninsula.
Riding down on a mule
appealed to us as an exciting way
to accomplish this goal,
spend a day learning more
about Father Damien,
now St. Damien
and all about his life
dedicated to helping the lepers.
Since I had limited experience on horses,
I informed our guide
that I was indeed a beginner.
They immediately led me
to what looked like
a docile animal named “Special”.
Special was to be my mule for the day.
At the beginning of my ordeal,
I noticed that Special was more interested in eating
than he was in my safe passage.
We Mule Skinners were instructed
at the outset
to let them have their heads
as they knew the route better than us;
so I did, much to my chagrin.
I was as green as the vegetation
and Special knew this.
Special, who I later renamed
with a colorful expletive
starting with the letter A___hole
would take me for one hell of a ride
hugging sharp ledges on one side
and sliding sideways
on the other
through mud soaked ruts,
giving me a bird’s eye view
of my treacherous surroundings.
Paralyzed by my fear of looming peril
I was a hostage
in Special’s uninhibited domain.
Forced from the start
to endure his surefooted folly
my experience was richly
enhanced by the scent of fresh droppings,
frequently stepped on by this caravan.
I was breathless
as we neared the end of the trail and thankful
that this half of the ride was almost over.
Released on a temporary reprieve
and regain the use of my legs
I knew that I would again
have to face an uphill climb
a wary hostage
on this ornery herbivore.
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