Flipping through the tourist rag for the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, our summer calling for over 30 consecutive years, I found an ad that caught my eye—Walk with a Lama. Could it be our spiritual calling? Was the Dali Lama in our beloved Berkshires? I shared the ad with my husband, Hank. We didn’t think twice and packed Mandy and Kory, at the time, ages 14 and 11, respectively, in the car and headed out to a particularly beautiful spot in this gorgeous area.
When we arrived, the property owner greeted us and, as Jim shook our hands, he laughingly informed us that we were fooled by a typo. No, the Dali Lama wasn’t in residence but a number of llamas were. You know, the Andes version of camel. They rallied in the pen to greet us and Jim brought one, Cous Cous, over to meet us. Hank, ever the Trivial Pursuit champ, said that he had read that llamas, like their camel cousins, spit. Jim assured him that in all the years he had owned llamas, not one ever spit. As if on cue, Cous Cous hauled off and let a gigantic ginder fly through the air. While Hank looked at Jim with a trace of skepticism, Jim, in turn, looked quite chagrined. Meanwhile, our kids were getting acquainted with some of the other llamas, thanks to the farmhands. I was busy snapping photos of the llamas with the rolling hills as backdrop.
By this time, two other people arrived and Jim decided it was time to walk the llamas. It took a few minutes for him to match us to our wooly friends. Hank was paired with Marilyn and, as they stood eye-to-eye, she appeared to flirt with him. Llamas blink very slowly and, frankly, Hank later admitted that he found it quite seductive.
We each led our llama, following Jim, onto a wooded path. It was cool convening with nature this way and, although Jim was no Dali Lama, he was a pretty earth-loving guy, and the walk started taking on a spiritual aura. That is until Jim said, “This is where we saw a bear the other day.” Bear? The llama was a stretch for this city kid who still sits up and takes notice when a possum or raccoon ambles around my suburban backyard. Suddenly, the somewhat spiritual walk took on a Darwinian feel, and I hoped I would be eaten first so I wouldn’t have to watch the bear—that I was sure was lurking around the next bend, smacking his lips—eat my offspring.
As we continued onward, the llamas dictated when we made stops, generally to relieve themselves. Somehow, we all made it to the end of the walk in one piece—bearless—and each kissed our llama companion goodbye. Luckily, they didn’t spit in return.
Whenever we return to the Berkshires, Mandy and Kory fondly reminisce about our walk with the llamas. Hank and I eyeball each other since, after the lovely experience wore off, we realized that we paid some guy to help walk his llamas to do their duty. Hmmm, wonder if this would work with dogs? Charge people and call it “Take a Canine Cruise Around the Block.”