One thing will never change: Carbonaro must always be on the right. Five years from now, ten years, even twenty, if all goes well, Carbonaro will still be on the right and Primavera on the left, the two of them yoked together, pulling a spindly plough across the loamy fields in the hills outside Cienfuegos. Oxen are like that: absolutely rigid in their habits, intractable once they have learned their ways. Even when a working pair is out of harness and is being led to water or to a fresh spot to graze, the two animals must be aligned just as they are accustomed or they will bolt, or at the very least dig in and refuse to go any farther until order is restored, each ox in its place.
Carbonaro and Primavera were not always a pair. Twenty years ago Primavera was matched up and trained with an ox named Cimarrón. They worked side by side for two decades. But Cimarrón was a glutton, and he broke into the feed one day and ate himself sick, dying happy with incurable colic. It was an enormous loss. An ox costs thousands of pesos and must be babied along until the age of two and then requires at least a year of training before he can be put to work. It is especially difficult to lose half of a working pair: you have to find a new partner who fits the temperament and strength of your animal, and above all, you have to find an ox who can work on the now vacant side. Primavera would work only on the left. He could be matched only with a partner who was used to working on the right. It was a lucky thing to find Carbonaro, a right-sider and a pretty good match in terms of size, although to this day he is a little afraid of Primavera and hangs back just a bit.