Horseback riding through the desert

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 16, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tupiza is surrounded by twisted, tortured red rock and is like a Bolivian Sedona.  The thing to do here is to take horses out to check out all the surreal landscapes that (unlike Sedona) you can enjoy by yourself.

Now, I've only ridden a horse once in Egypt - and that was for an hour in nice soft sand.  My Israeli travel companion, Ohad, somehow talked me into spending seven hours on a horse (Israelis are excellent at talking people into doing things).  

It was an amazing experience.  Our guide taught me how to control the horse, then trot, and finally gallop.  I also learned to jump... the hard way. 

We were riding along a river and Ohad asked our guide if it was OK to go "rapido" 

"OK - but stay on the trail" (which went straight for awhile then turned gradually to the left, away from the river). 

To get the horse to gallop, you just have to whistle - and our horses LOVED to gallop full speed.  With half a whistle, Ohad's horse leaped to a gallop and before I could even whistle, mine took off in chase.  We were flying!

Then path veered left, but Ohad's horse continued straight.  Toward the river.  Toward a 3 foot bank into the river.

"Whoa!  Shhhhh!  Stop!"  I heard Ohad yell as the bank approached rapido.

I pulled back on the reigns hard and yelled "WHOA" but my horse was determined to follow Ohad's horse regardless of what I thought we should do...

Ohad's horse leaped into space and landed gracefully.  Ohad was less graceful and came down hard on his saddle shouting something in Hebrew that probably would have made his mother blush. 

And I saw my fate.  I was going to learn how to jump a horse.  #&%@!

Idiot (my horse's new name) leaped into space and I had nothing to do but hold on for dear life.  I came down hard, but not quite as hard as Ohad.  (I know this because I was able to sit down for dinner).  

We got in trouble for that stunt.  Because we were galloping through river rocks off the trail, Ohad's horse lost a shoe on a rock.  And apparently we could have broken our horse's leg.  But it wasn't our fault!  Idiot horse wouldn't stop.

The other surprise was that Idiot only had one eye... which I didn't learn until the end of the trip.  It also explains why Idiot Horse kept heading for cliffs.  I was like "turn left, Idiot - can't you see there is a cliff right there?!"

Next up: Paragliding, White water rafting, Bungee jumping and more in Salta, Argentina

Idea of costs in Tupiza:
7 hours of horseback riding, with guide: $25
Hotel room (no breakfast, but clean.  Unlike the Belmont Holiday Inn it had super hot showers): $4.25
Fillet Mignon dinner afterward: $4.25

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