The gurgling stomach I can hear across the room ensures that Paddy is in no fit state to join me on the horse trek. Unfortunately for him my group is then changed so I’m joining four girls. Apparently he wants me to flirt with them on his behalf. He’s got enough to worry about with a trip to the laboratory today. I’m hoping it’s a gorgeous nurse who takes his poo sample.
So I strike out alone with the chicas into the Bolivian wilderness. Expecting a group of Germans, my companions are made up of English, Irish and American. I’m once again doing my best to show competence on my surprisingly large mare. I’ve been used to skinny racks of bone in Central and South America, but this looks like a cared for beast. It certainly makes a difference to my arse and family jewels the longer the trek goes on. I can’t feel my legs after twenty minutes.
The sun is warm and inviting as we trot through a sharp red rocky landscape. Morgan, the Texan, has rightly commented that it looks very similar to home for her. You would be forgiven for thinking you were in the American west circa 1875, moseying on down to a lawless town as a pack of wanted gunmen. I lose myself in the imagination of it all as we put distance between us and civilisation.
Further down the line, I become a little more disappointed with the surroundings and countryside. I was expecting some amazing vistas, with deep canyons and dusty trails, but for the most part we’re just following an unremarkable river. Our ‘guide’ manages around four words for the whole seven hours, and with only one real break, the company soon falls silent from tiredness and saddle sore. With around an hour left on the animals, I’m wishing I’d done the three hour trek, a first considering I’m back on the beloved horse.
In order to see the scenery I was looking for, and Butch Cassidy’s town of demise, I would need to take a longer expedition for two to four days into the country. After a full seven hours wedged in a hard saddle, I have no idea how my nether regions would cope with such demand. I’m practically falling asleep on the thing as we finally make it back to town, and walking like the Duke himself as I make my way back to base. It was a pleasant enough day, but nothing compared to the Colombian San Augustin trek, and no disrespect intended, nothing compared to the company that day either.
I return to find Paddy with two companions. The sly dog. One is called Trofozoitos and the other goes by E. Histolytica. Both are living in his stomach eating his intestine walls. If you’re traveling this way, don’t drink the water or use it to clean your teeth, and be careful when eating fruit and vegetables. As a rule of thumb, I only eat something that has been either cooked well, or peeled. Paddy is now stuck stuffing himself with antibiotics. They’ve been living and partying in there for four months.
Undeterred, he joins me to meet the girls for food in the evening, although I’ve already royally cock blocked him by accidentally informing them of his bowel issues. In graphic detail. A couple of large beers later and I’m demanding we find the karaoke in the one horse town. Everyone else insists on calling it a night, and I’m raging as I wander up the road. Perhaps it’s for the best, as our four day adventure to the Salt Flats starts at first light, and Paddy’s predicament needs all the help it can get