Saturday, 16 November 2013

Pretending we're Gaucho's in Tupiza

Us on horses. Not a sneeze in sight.
After yet another eventful bus journey in Bolivia, this time a toilet episode. After 4 hours driving the bus pulls into Potosi bus depot, where the driver picks up more people (more people than there are seats, so several people are standing, and will do for the next 6 hours) and taking this opportunity of a stop Ellen and some girls from the back of the bus get up to go to the toilet but are told to get back on the bus by the driver and that we will be stopping 'up there' (whilst pointing to the top of the mountain). Over an hour later the driver pulls up alongside a restaurant in a very small village and announces for us to get off for food and the toilet. All 40-odd of us on the bus pile into the restaurant and ask for the toilet, there is not one. Nice. So the driver shrugs and all of us scatter around the outside of the restaurant to find somewhere to pee - most of us go into the 'garden' (well, this is the desert) of the house next door and pee.
After this there was another 6 hours to Tupiza and the driver did not stop again. Luckily we have learned to dehydrate ourselves before Bolivian bus journeys and just to sip small amounts of water.
We arrived at about 6pm into Tupiza, with no map we had no idea how far the hotel was from the bus station so we just caught a taxi to the hotel (80 pence) and as soon as we got there we booked our 4 day Salt Flats tour, ending in a transfer to Chile (San Pedro de Atacama). Still within our daily budget.
We also booked a horse riding tour for the next day. Ellen has been wanting to go horse riding for a while and had read that Tupiza is one of the best places to do it. After all this is the area where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid allegedly met their ends.
Add soundtrack here.
Angel actually quite likes horse riding but is unfortunately allergic to horses, so there is a bit of preparation needed, mostly vaseline up the nostrils and antihistamines (also not being able to wear the clothes he has on on the horse again until they are washed).
We had to walk to the outskirts of town (took about 10 minutes from the centre, small town) with our 'guide' - he gave us the horses and then we followed him for 3 hours. He did point out the 'devils gate' though. We had great horses, they looked really well looked after, which was our concern, and were well behaved. Ellen even got hers to canter. She didn't know what this was but this horse did it. 
The ride was 3 hours, it was about 40 degrees by about 10am and we felt sorry for the horses having to carry us to the canyon and back. It was great to just relax and let the horse do the work and look at the scenery. It really is a beautiful place, yellowy dirt with red boulders and mountains jutting out from the ground with a brilliant blue sky. Really something to see. 
Dear reader, you will be happy to hear that Angel had absolutely no allergic reaction to the horse, either the antihistamine worked or he's not allergic anymore. 

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