February 04, 2024

A Four-Year Wait For Llama Love

I should know by now that reality rarely lives up to my expectations. 

And when I spend years building up anticipation for something—especially something I may have missed out on and have the chance to make up for lost time—I'm most certainly bound to be disappointed.

I think if I were able to travel back in time and actually go to my proms, I'd probably have a horrible time and be horribly disappointed.

But here I am, in 2024, trying to make up for the things I missed out on in 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Because I'd rather come to the rude awakening that, in reality, they're less than—as opposed to feeling like I missed out on something that could've been really great. 

I waited almost four years to stay at a particular llama ranch in the Joshua Tree area that I'd booked for March 2020 and had to cancel at the last minute. Back then, I'd messaged with the host how much I loved llamas—and she offered that if the timing worked out, they could find a way for me to interact with the animals during my stay. 

Unfortunately, it's winter, and with my work schedule and the traffic on the 10 freeway, I arrived to Yucca Valley about an hour later than I wanted to—catch the sun at its low angle of the late day, casting shadows nearly dark as night. 

The llamas were wearing their halos in the late light of day, their floof glowing amber with the magic of the hour. And it appeared as though they were getting some snackage in before they settled down for the night. 

My accommodations were right next to their pen—a permanently parked camper with sweeping views of the High Desert landscape. 

It took a while to check in with my host, and receive all her detailed instructions—though I was certain I wouldn't need most of them, as I wouldn't be using the coffeemaker or cooking on the stove or with the microwave. 
By the time I could head back out to try to get some hellos in with the llamas, there was just one to come say hi to me through the chainlink fence (oh, that blasted barrier that keeps me out of so many places!).

She got a good sniff in, and then it was off to bed. 

When my host had checked me in, she said that if I got up early enough, I could hang out with the llamas while her husband fed them in the morning. But later that evening, I got a message that there would be a private tour coming at 9 a.m.
I wrote back to ask if I could join it, but I didn't get a response until well after 9—and the answer was no. So I sat on a stone bench, once again outside of the pen, and tried my best to listen in and catch some glimpses of the beasts while I could. 

I tried to remain calm, but I hadn't gotten much rest the night before—not because of the brightness of the moon or the chorus of the coyotes, but just from an upset stomach and maybe too many espresso martinis after dinner. So, I just sat there and silently wept. 

I'd planned to stay as long as I could—til check-out time at 11 a.m.—to maximize my quality time there, but my host shared that they had a notary public coming at 10:55 a.m. and an early check-in at 1 p.m. So when I got to step through the gate and into the fenced-in pen, I felt lucky to get any time with the creatures. 

They were busy eating their grass and weren't exactly receptive to a visitor distracting them from breakfast. 

Except for the goats, who rubbed up against my legs, paused for plenty of forehead scratches, and gave me little lippy kisses.
Of course, my dream is to have enough land to have some animals, like this ranch does. They don't even use the llamas for their fiber or the goats for their milk. Pretty much everybody is just a pet.

But llamas are so smart and curious, they're known to make excellent pets (as do goats). And the llamas help protect the goats from the local coyotes.

They have such a calm demeanor, it's just so peaceful to be with them. And for a few minutes while I hung out with them, I forgot my sadness and my disappointment and all the things that keep me up at night.

For a few moments, I could just be. But just for a very few. 

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