"Don't you have to fall off to be a proper rider?" Dow asked, grinning.
I agreed as I remounted.
The clouds were above us now, blocking out the stars and the silver sickle moon. I was beginning to fear the oncoming night, the oncoming rain.
"Are we nearly there, Cochu? Will it rain, Cochu?" we kept asking.
"Yes, yes," he would reply to both, until finally there was a flicker of lightning that streaked across the sky, then a rumble and a clap. Raindrops cascaded from the heavens, soaking us in moments.
"See," Cochu shouted. "I told you it would rain."
I looked over at my boys, their heads tipped back, drinking water from the sky, their expressions triumphant. They had always loved the rain, had always rolled in puddles, had dashed out to be part of a deluge.
"I laugh in the face of thunder," yelled Dow, bright-eyed and invincible in an Usain Bolt lightning stance.
We rode on, heads down against the wind and rain until, finally, small lights appeared to our right, a beacon drawing us onward.
"See," said Cochu. "I told you we would get here."
We reached the monastery just as the lightning and the thunder were directly above us, forking from sky to ground. A monk in maroon robes greeted us and helped us remove our shoes. He led us across a creaking wooden floor to a fire that made steam rise from our damp clothes.
That night, curled on comfy mattresses, fed and watered, warm and dry, we fell asleep to the sound of monks chanting. Our limbs were stiff, our ribs bruised. Perhaps we had been dancing with death, but it hadn't felt like that. It felt as though we had been living life to its utmost on our trusty steeds as the world passed in a blur of color.