animalia, Bolivia, South America

sweet smell of saddles in Sucre

Bec / 25/06/2013

After the dust had settled on the rally tracks around Sucre and we were allowed into the city, the taxi drove by a few passed out drunks on footpaths before dropping us at our hotel. We took a short walk around town via the bustling mercado and the offices of local tour operator, Joy Ride, with whom we organized to go horse riding the following day.

Dinner was delicious at Florin and a few drinks around the pool table with Julia, Andy and Gina should have sealed the night. I used the excuse that since Gina was my roommate I would be woken up later after she finished her night out so I continued on with her and Julia to karaoke. I sat on my giant bottle of beer, choked on the cigarette smoke filling the air and studiously – and almost completely – avoided all attempts to get me up to dance by the locals. Pablo was so gentlemanly about it and I was bored out of my mind waiting for Gina and Julia to sing their requests. I kept a modest foot or so distance between us and he told me about his wife. Most of the boys were revved up from the day’s race and just out for a good time. Things turned sour when we had to continually refuse the advances. Resorting to pointing out rings on our wedding finger, saying “no” in firm and even tones, staunch ignorance and telling them we preferred women all didn’t seem to make a difference. Finally the barman came and moved the last resolutely persistent one on with force. Soon after we made the move homeward and into bed by 2am.

Technology is great when it works. When it doesn’t, your alarm clock wakes you up at the time you’re supposed to be meeting for breakfast, not the hour before when it would have been possible to shower and feel alive. A batch of “hangover eggs” and a coffee later and we were assembled for some horsing around.

Owner/Cowboy Johnny paired us up with our rides and I got the gentle giant, Hector. A huge head and at least 17 gorgeous dark brown hands high, he was very responsive and didn’t try to start any trouble, so long as I stayed away from Frankie’s horse, Fakken. Apparently Hector and Fakken were both boyfriends of Katie’s ride, Amelie and hoof-ticuffs could ensue. Boys and their egos huh.

The ride took us through eucalyptus forest, along the top of ridges with views over downtown Sucre and the valley to Potosi. We saw a castle built by a Potosi mine owner about 150 years ago with towers inspired by Big Ben and the tower of Pisa, it is now a museum. We saw the remains of an old riding centre which fell into disrepair following a ghastly event – a rider was killed when his horse threw him on a jump, the rider’s father then shot the horse on-site. It was a sad day and there are only mounds of gravel and concrete slabs left behind.

In a scary moment of history repeating, Melanie from Switzerland and our second guide, was thrown from her horse, Wonder, who then came bolting up to meet us. A few scrapes were all that showed but the day after she was in bad shape. She did get back on the horse and continued the rest of the ride to her credit – a true horsewoman, she was only worried that Wonder was spooked.

I felt the difference of riding such a big horse from my usual rides…his trot was so long I had trouble keeping time to post properly and when he cantered I thought I was going to be clocked for speeding. I basically just held on for my life and once it was all over thanked my stars I was still in the saddle. Frankie remarked that I looked like I was either enjoying it or really not enjoying it, the grimace on my face somewhere between thrill and fear. I got home in one piece, Hector is a beautiful ride and I think his loping gait helped me avoid the usual groin pain associated with very occasional horse riding. Muchas gracias, dude.

Back in town Gina and I had lunch before hitting the market for toys for a visit to the orphanage. I was chief bag carrier since I wasn’t going to the orphanage and the toys were Gina’s idea. People everywhere and armed with bags of balls, dinosaurs, tea sets, baby rattles and more we eventually made it back to our room as the others returned from the chocolate factory.



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