Almost time to leave...

The last two weeks at The Silva Project were full. Horse wise I did do some more riding in the training rink...there really isn't anywhere else to ride. I enjoyed riding the horse Inde and since his corral is right by the guest house where I live, we were already friends. I feed him in the morning as I head down to the stable and stop and talk to him as I go by during the day.

He reminds me of a horse I had when I taught at a summer camp on Big Bear Lake near Los Angeles. Same pinto coloring and same wonderful responsiveness that makes riding fun. He could learn neck reining easy!

During the last week or so I've been working on The Silva Project's web site fixing some inconsistencies and adding new information.

Another volunteer, Brian and I rented scooters and we explored the south island. Not as spectacular as the first ride, but just as much fun including a wonderful swim on the west side of the island where there was a nice surf that day. It was a "just go ride" plan...and I like that.

Brian sets up a beautiful shot.

An old well fortified castle...mostly in ruins.

We went by Pelakogotpitoa where I went on the first scooter ride and I took a pix in the mission chapel which I hadn't done the first time. It was very beautiful. (Available light resting on a rail.)

The trip to Athens was interesting.
There was no tourist stuff...didn't even see the Acropolis or anything like that. (I saw it on my last trip 1962.) We went right from the airport to a school Sylvia started in 1963 called Theotokos. It is self described as a "Center for Rehabilitative Education for the Learning Disabled." It is privately funded.

The campus is quite large...and there are over 350 students ranging in age from 12 to 25 years old. There are all aspects of education here including computer use, speech therapy, PE, music, theater and several sheltered workshops.

The campus is very pleasant, in excellent shape, bright and airy with large open spaces between the buildings. And what was particularly impressive were all the smiles...from the faculty and the students. I didn't take face shots of the students but it was amazing.

Sylvia is still on the board...that was the main purpose of the trip...a board meeting. Franklin and Ilona (from the horse workshop a few weeks ago) joined us and while Sylvia went to her meeting, we were taken on a tour of the facility.

There were several sheltered workshops. Here the instructor who runs the pottery workshop tells Ilona, Franklin (and me) about their activities.

And we see the results of their work.

There is a recycling workshop. This student is taking the pull tabs off aluminum cans then squishing the can.

There was a large weaving workshop and they wove beautiful cloth. The teacher proudly shows some of the "products" of the workshop to Ilona and Franklin (and me.)

Predictably I found the wood shop very interesting.

And again their products...

Horse therapy is often used with the learning disabled, so with Ilona and Franklin there, it was pretty natural to discuss that. The director would like to incorporate equine therapy, but so far the board has resisted it (in spite of Sylvia's influence.) One reservation is "What do we do with the horses during summer recess." Ilona immediately said "You would have summer camps for the general public in horsemanship."

Well that got discussion going and there will definitely be more talk. After hearing some of my background the director said to me "Could you help us with the business plan?" Answer..."Of course." Afterward we went to a lovely lunch spot and I shot this right by the outdoor restaurant.

Then it was back to the airport to fly home.

Out of the discussion at the school and other talks we've had, Sylvia and Franklin decided that while I'm here we should shoot a video with Franklin working with children and the Skyrian horses. It is the hope that the video will call attention to how well the Skyrian horses work with young as three!

So that's what we did. They joined us at the Estate Thursday night and Friday and Saturday we did pre-production and shot footage. The video focuses on ground training, something I've never done but will definitely include if I ever do instruction again. Working on the ground with a Skyrian is much less intimidating for a small child than with a full size horse. I'll take the camera tapes back with me to be edited at home.

It was fun to be behind the camera again! (I'm on the far right.)

Today, Sunday...the day before I leave...we had a competition for the young students of the Riding School. I played guitar and sang a couple of songs to accompany a group of kids who were riding Skyrian horses in an opening routine...kinda like a horse dance. A cool way to end my activities here.

And with the goodbyes, maybe the toughest is with the puppy I met on my first day and her second at the estate. She's no longer the frightened puppy she was a month and a half ago. We formed a special bond, playing together and go for a walk most every day. I'm going to miss her. Fortunately Sylvia loves the dog as much as I do so the pup is in good hands.

And to end the blog, here is a pix from my favorite spot on the estate...the view point.

I walk out there most every day, usually with the puppy and often with Silvia. I think I'll use it as the background for the video titles.

Now I'm off to Sweden for a couple of weeks to join my friends Magnus who lives in Stockholm and Woody my house partner. Then, after over two months it's back to Port Townsend. I'm looking forward to that.

So this will be the last blog in this series. When the video is done, probably in late July, I'll do another short blog entry with a link so if you want, you can watch it.

This trip was a bit of an experiment to say the least...going off somewhere unknown for a month and a half. It was sure a successful experiment.

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