Two day horse trek, Tupiza

It all started out well with the trip costing B$400 (~£37) with a reputable company and I left at 10am with one other person. The other person on the trip, a Dutch girl called Theresa, spoke Spanish and English so away we went walking to the stables. The horses were well looked after and didn’t look like they were about to keel over and the guides seemed nice enough. They also gave us really nice Stetsons (which were a considerable improvement over mine)

I climbed on board “Gocho”, the biggest of the three horses, and off we went. The morning was full of excitement as we trekked to the first canyon and jumped off the horses for a twenty minute wander. Back on the horses and we walked again. For me, it was a little boring as I’d expected to ride the horses – this wasn’t the case as the horses were trained to simply be taxi’s. You’d try and direct where the horse was to go and it’d simply ignore you taking what ever line it wanted.

We mainly walked on dirt roads but we did get to forge rivers, walk through long grass and it was lovely. The scenery was amazing, I was on a horse and felt like Clint Eastwood! Lunch consisted of these weird things here called Tamales, they are cornmeal dough with a Illama jerky filling and I just couldn’t eat them. I had tried one the day before as well and hated them then so ended up eating some fruit instead. The other groups arrived and it became noticeable that I was the only man, it was kinda fun looking around and chatting to the other peoples.Back on the horses and more walking (although we did trot and gallop a bit) for 4 hours without a break. This would be my main critism of the trek – there was lots of walking, but no stopping nor any explanation as to the different sites were seeing. I guess there wasn’t anything to see other than what we were looking at, but it’d have been nice to get off the horse and stretch the legs (although granted Theresa couldn’t get back on the horse without a lot of help hence possibly why we didn’t stop!)

The nights accommodation was basic, but clean and pleasant enough. Tea was chicken, vegies and rice and Theresa and I shared a drink called “Vin Up” – a really sweet wine mix. An early night was had and after reading for a bit I popped off to a lovely slumber.

And now for the fun

I kept waking up to a torch light and figured Theresa was going to the loo or something. However, at 0520 I woke sharply with a sharp pain in my knee – she’d thumped me hard enough for it to ache 2 hours later and declared that I was snoring and “would I please stop”.

I was livid. I couldn’t get back to sleep and lay there wondering how on earth in a dorm environment she felt it ok to wake someone else for a problem she was experiencing. I have problems sleeping with outside noise so wear earplugs, she was wearing an eye mask to block external light. Snoring isn’t exactly something I could “stop” as it’s involuntary action whilst sleeping and as such I would never, ever wake someone who was snoring as it’s my problem not there’s. How on earth she deemed it acceptable is a mystery to me!

Since I couldn’t sleep, I got up at 6am, put the light on and started to read. Whilst I didn’t intentionally make noise, I sure as hell wasn’t quiet. I didn’t see a need to be – I was woken up, sun was streaming in the window and she was awake so why be quiet-quiet? At breakfast Theresa refused to speak to me. It was comical the way she was acting and it would continue.

I had nothing to say to her (after all I was still seriously annoyed) so kept myself to myself whilst waiting to leave, but she would see me and walk away to another part of the hostel. I’ve never met a more petty girl before!

The horse riding was much the same as the first day and got to the point of monotony. The scenery was nice and all, but you passed through it so slowly without any input it became a little boring. The only rest bite was watching the horses battle for the lead – we had no control over them for the most part and they trot, gallop at will each trying to out do the other.

At lunch, I went to wash my hands in the river and when I got back found that everything in the lunch box had been split in two piles with Theresa hording the single items The best bit though? The bit that had me chortling the most? Lunch was make-it-yourself tuna sandwiches using Tinned Tuna. The only can opener was on my Leatherman and since she wouldn’t speak to me to ask for the tool to open “her” tin, she didn’t get any Tuna. It was petty on my behalf I’ll admit, but come-on, she did deserve it! I ended up making my sarnies, feeding an apple to the horses and then wandering off to the river to read the book. No point staying in her company.

The afternoon continued with the silent treatment and the horses continued to battle away (mine usually winning giving it’s larger size). The only excitement was when we forged rivers or my horse got scared by a blanket and blotted. As the trek continued, my knee really started to ache and combined with a sore bottom, meant that I was ready to finish the trek. I did get the hang of trotting / galloping though – I treat the horse like a bike, stood up and bounced with my knees. Completely the wrong technique, but it worked for me (for the short period of time the horse was travelling at speed).

The trek ended in a very strange way with the guide simply looking meek. I passed on B$20 tip (he’d been really nice and helpful given we couldn’t speak the same language) and walked away exchanging “pleasantries”. From the trek I’d seen some amazing scenery and found a new love in Horse riding – I’d expect that actually riding a horse must be a spectacularly good thing it’s just a shame that my knee doesn’t seem to like the position you have to sit in!

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