Tupiza and Horses

Trip Start Nov 26, 2007
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Trip End Nov 26, 2008


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Escaping from the jaws of La Paz was not too bad although the buses here leave a lot to be desired. No toilet, seats that hardly recline and roads we know could be better, we would both swap the bus for a bike any day. Fortunately for us the journey was only 14 hrs... easy.
As morning rose we could feel the heat burning through the bus windows bringing us into Tupiza, a small town only a few hours from the Argentine border. Here is the land of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid rich with their history of hold ups and stick ups on the back of trusty steeds and as soon as we arrived we were on the hunt for our own horses... minus the guns. Meeting our guide at the hostel we found out that he was only 15 and had been guiding since the age of 9... obviously filling us with confidence, hopefully our horses would be a bit more worldly since i'd never ridden a horse before and Son hadn't been on one since she was 10!
At the stables we met the our horses, Obscuro which means dark and Bronco... which we hoped meant nice and calm but were not to sure?! We both thought there would be some sort of instruction but of course we were in Bolivia and the only help we got was to get onto the horse, from then on it was up to us. The fact that they did not speak any english made it even more challenging!
At the start the horses seemed fine, with a guide at the front and a stable hand at the back the horses just followed in line behind each other and we were able to amble along soaking in the red rock formations around. Then things got more exciting as both Son's horse and my horse kept picking up the pace into a trot and we had to pull the reins in to control them both then, without knowing it our two horses shot off as though they were trying to race. We were both shocked but were loving it as well as the horses really seemed to enjoy the run, for us it was a matter of just holding on! Slowly we got more acustomed to this finding out that they were related and so often wanted to out do each other... thanks for the warning! Lunch was well deserved on the backside, arms (for holding on so tight) and back (for having to be sprinted around so much) and fortunately for us the journey after lunch was not too far, but not without near disaster though!

We'd caught up to another group, an aussie with a guide and our (young guide) asked if we wanted to go pass. As we'd caught up to them we thought this would be a good idea, we didn't think that he would bolt past them on a path wide enough for a car and as soon as his horse went both ours took the bait and sprinted too. My horse being a little loopy and stupidly fast for a first timer got away just ahead of Son's but at this point the path had the other two horses n the way so 'bang' my horse collided with the other guides who then cannoned into the australian girl, son got ahead looked back and apparently I was nearly off, holding on while actually looking like I was sideways on the horse. I don't know how I stayed on but I think my combination of not knowing how to ride helped me as I had a firm grip of the saddle at all times. The other guide was not happy blaming our guide for making a poor decision. It didn't take long to find out that they were all friends and so were laughing it in no time!
It was shower, dinner and bed after that needing some energy for the next day.

The next day the horses seemed calmed and we walked slowly through ther beautiful countryside, almost whistling western tunes in our heads. We reached our lunch spot quicker than expected and sat and watched they families and school grouped play old fashioned games like sack races and tug of war.
After lunch all the horses were playing up, all needing to be kept on a tight reins we found out they know the route and were sensing home. We knew the horses were wanting to run and once we hit a road we pretty much couldn't stop them which was a little frightening as these horse could definately run. My horse went and being in front I thought it would just stop but it didn't and it seemed like the horse had gears getting quicker and quicker and because the road didn't end, the horses didn't stop! I manged to stop Obscuro checking with the guides, 'is this ok' to which they replied this is the road they run, they all sense it and run until the road stops... about 3 miles!

It had all become a little chaotic with each horse dashing off at different times the worse being when they all darted off and the guide actually came off his horse... reassuring, and this was his 5th time!!!
By the end I felt like I'd tamed the beast and Son felt more in control of Bronco who'd been twitchy constantly. Getting off them was a relief but it was a fantastic two days that could have been so much worse... but at the same time could not have been any better. I don't think I will ever get a chance to ride a horse like that again, litterally nudging the horse into to life like like the twist of a motor bike throttle but this is Bolivia and the reason we love it!
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