Unintended Adventures on Horseback


It was not lost on me that this was taking place in La Valle de la Muerte. It seemed fitting that here, surrounded by red stones, in a valley where the elderly had supposedly come to die in ancient times, I had lost something so valuable–so invaluable. As the 30 minute mark passed, I felt myself becoming less optimistic. The winds were continuing to pick up, blowing a constant wave of sand over my hopes of finding my wedding ring.

La Valle de la Muerte (The Valley of Death)

Ori and I were at the halfway point through our morning tour on Horseback, and currently located about 6km outside of San Pedro de Atacama. There was only about a 10 minute portion of our 3.5 hour ride that took place on the sand dunes, and of course that was where my ring had chosen to fall off of my finger.

Happily making our way up the Valle de la Muerte on horseback

Riding the dunes above Valle de la Muerte

There were three of us, Ori, our guide Karen, and myself. Very fortunately, I felt the ring as it slid off my finger, tugged by the reins of the horse, and I even heard it as it struck something—the sand? My foot? But upon looking down at the sand I couldn’t see any sign of the ring. Karen, our guide, told me to stay still, lest the horse stomp on the ring and drive it deep into the desert sand, and I did my best to stay calm, knowing my ring was somewhere nearby. After 5 minutes of her fruitless search, I dismounted and joined Karen in looking. She led the horses to the side, hopeful that they would not bury the ring deeper, and we sat and dug, using our hands as sieves, looking for the ring I had lost.

Just before I lost my ring, we had stopped so the horses could rest

We were surrounded by Karen’s 5 dogs, who had followed us on our ride (as they apparently always do) who were lying around in the area we were searching. Could they be making things worse? At one point, one of her dogs began emulating us and digging—fortunately he was not in the area of interest.

After 20 minutes Karen told me she would soon have to return to town. I could stay and continue looking, it would be about a 90 minute walk back. I looked down at my nearly-empty bottle of water. Ori had water too, and more than me, should she and Karen return, leaving me to hunt for the ring? I told Ori there was no way I would leave without the ring. It had to be within 5 feet of were I was standing. I would not, could not accept that it had been lost.

Ori dismounted to help out in one final search. I found four rocks and marked out the area of interest—a 15×15 foot excavation site. We continued to search, the three of us together. How deep should I dig? I left the immediate area of interest to look from afar, kneeling down, my cheek on the sand, hoping to see the glimmer of the ring on the surface of the sand in an area we had not looked. No luck. I returned to the 225 square-foot area I had marked and began methodically looking for the ring. An organized approach would be best. I starting in a corner, working systematically. I then felt an impulse to move towards the center, where Karen was looking. I don’t know why. That just seemed like the right spot. I was merely two feet from her, sliding my hand through sand we had certainly sifted through before, when at last I felt something round, lifted it up, and saw my ring. The same ring I had pulled out of a bowl of rice during my wedding ceremony in India just 5 months ago. Something made this episode of rummaging around a bit more nerve wracking.

Ring in hand, I shouted out “lo tengo, lo tengo!” and held it to my chest as I let myself fall backwards into the sand. It was at that point that I took a good deep breath, realizing it was my first normal breath since the ring had slipped my finger.

The Scene of the crime: I finally found my ring just to the right of where that dog is lying. You can see the sand was all turned over in the search!

Anyone no a good place to re-size a ring in Boston?

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3 thoughts on “Unintended Adventures on Horseback

  1. you got it back that is important:). Until you get it resized you could use thread to tighten it. so now both you and Ori had to search for your rings. Cheers

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