Our lunch stop was remote and deep in the forest. There was a stone building, a small hut and several trucks parked nearby. The smells of wood smoke and grilling steak and the sounds of loud and lively conversation were coming from a group of people in the hut. We tied the horses to a log rail, and found a working pump to water them.
One of my favorite things in France is great food and wine, and we were invited to join the group for lunch. They were roasting snails over the fire, had steaks on the grill, and were drinking a vile smelling liqueur. I passed on both the snails and the liqueur; we had packed a nice red wine. They were thoroughly friendly and wanted to know all about our trek and where we were from. They were setting out to hunt wild boar. Apparently the way to hunt wild boar is to sit in a truck and drink until the dogs have chased a boar close enough to shoot. The resulting meat would be inedible, but it was a sport, after all. They warned us that their dogs could startle the horses, and that the boar could be very dangerous. By then I knew that anything could startle my horse, and how could little pigs be dangerous?
My mom was worried about the wild boars. I had no reference, growing up in the States. I remember one time when I was little, while in Germany, we had to walk on a high stone wall to avoid the wild boars. It was a game. I had no fear. Wild boars were just pigs.
Later, as we took a brief rest and heard their distinctive sounds, I grabbed a rope and went toward them, swinging my arms and hollering "…go away little piggies..." They ran. My mom was so relieved to see them go; she and I laughed until our stomachs hurt. An observer would question our sanity at that moment. What on earth were we thinking? What a pair: my mom, with her fear of wild boar and me with my fear of heights. We could be sipping wine in a café in Paris! We had our own horses back at home! What on earth were we thinking? I once had a professor who told me that anything worthwhile would have moments of chaos, at which time I would have to make my own way through, and if I could do so, I would have accomplished something really amazing.