Horse riding with Andrew
02.03.2013 21 °C
Following another fruit smoothie from the market to help with our minor hangover, we booked our bus tickets to Uyuni and our hostels in Uyuni and San Pedro de Atacama. I can't believe we're going to pay more than £50 a night for a hostel in San Pedro de Atacama, given that we only spent around £40 max anywhere in Brazil and Argentina, but this is the price you pay for a private room ensuite in a tourist (not just backpackers) hotspot in Chile.
Lucy and George had booked the horse riding with Joy Ride, who are a big tour company in Sucre, so we met there, picked up our packed lunches and got a lift to the stables near by. The guy at Joy Ride said Andrew should ride Hector, then laughed, which made Andrew nervous. But there was nothing to be nervous about, Hector was a big horse but not for someone of Andrew's height, and really gentle. I had the smallest - of course! - called Facon, which is apparently the name of the silver blade a Gaucho uses? So I just called him Silver! Lucy was on Jacob and George was on Rudy. George and I had riding experience, Lucy had a little and Andrew thinks he's been on a horse once before but isn't sure.
Our guide, Johnny - I'm not sure that's his real name? - is fantastic but doesn't speak English so Lucy had to translate for the rest of us. The start of the trek is across a road and then up a (yes you guessed it) steep, narrow hill, which Andrew wasn't too sure about..."How I do I make him do that", "What do I do when we're going downhill" and so on. Of course, the horses do it day in, day out so he needn't do anything but keep in the saddle. And I really enjoyed being able to tell him how to ride and answer questions about the horses in general, as usual he's the know it all!
After that it was up a main road and then into the hills and mountains and the scenery was amazing.
We got to meet lots of locals along the way, who wanted to keep me or Lucy (not both, they weren't greedy) on their farms with them! Johnny told us the story of the Palace in the valley below, which has three towers - one is supposed to be Moroccan influenced, the other to look like the Tower of Pisa and the other Big Ben. And apparently the actual designer of Big Ben designed this tower?! Lucy laughed as she translated, it didn't look anything like it.
The time had come, he asked us if we wanted to gallop and Andrew and Lucy agreed. After a quick "what do I do", we set off with the guide up front and it was so much fun. I kept looking back at Andrew to make sure he was still on the horse and he was! Bobbing around a bit but still in the saddle, and I was so impressed! Galloping on your second ever horse ride is quite something. Once we stopped I realised I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed horse riding, I really should try and do it more often.
We stopped underneath a tree for lunch, chatting with Johnny about the horses and how long he'd been riding, and then we set off again and more galloping was on the cards. We got to a bumpy stretch of road, and off we went again. As we slowed, Johnny looked back to check everyone was together still and a voice from the back said "I think I've broken my anus"! It was Andrew, of course, and Johnny must have caught the meaning as he was laughing too! His anus was fine, if you were worried?!
On the way back we galloped more, saw lots of children waving at the horses and saying hello to us, and on one stretch of road, Johnny had to thrown stones at the dogs as they came barking and showing their teeth at the horses.
At the stables we got to stroke a 2 month old foal, which was so tiny and soft. It's dad is a national jumping champion apparently, so the little thing will soon be bigger than Hector no doubt.
I had such a lovely afternoon, and Andrew seemed to enjoy it too, and it we ended the day with a beer at Joy Ride.
After showers to get rid of the sweat and horse hair (the forgotten pleasures of horse riding!) we went for dinner at Concasse, ate pasta and risotto and drank Bolivian red wine, which was surprisingly good. We didn't stay out long though as our bums were too sore from the horse riding to sit there!