After the ice bucket challenge, we headed to Olivers Tavern once again for a vegetable curry and some vodkas. My stomach was gurgling a bit, but I thought it would go. Both a bit merrier, we went back to the hotel about 10pm. Gemma fell asleep but I couldn’t, the pain in my stomach was getting worse. Eventually I was sick, but I’m rarely sick from drinking, especially only a few vodkas, and the pain in my gut was telling me something was up. I was sick again, and again, and again. And again. I lost count eventually but the sink was full to the brim with rice and veg, and the shower had took some hammering too, not to mention the toilet.
At 2am I lost patience and knew I had to call a doctor. Reception were very helpful and the doctor turned up within 30 minutes.
He listened to my stomach and said ‘it sounds like the French Revolution down there’. Cheers Doc. He rolled me onto my side and injected me in my bum. Immediately I felt the pain go from a 9 to a 3. Hero. As he asked me questions and began to make plans for me to go to the clinic, I felt the sick coming once more, so I shot up, barged past him and let rip in the shower.
To cut a long story short, he drove us to the clinic where we both stayed the night, drove us back the next day and gave me a prescription for 4 lots of tablets to ensure my bacterial infections demise. He also gave me a get well soon card, which was a nice touch, but hilarious!
All for the bargain price of 3,400 Bolivianos. So we had been forced to stay in hospital overnight due to my infection, we were out of pocket big time and to make matters worse it was Sunday, so no pharmacies were open. At least we had Cholitas wrestling to look forward to, and we were being picked up at around 3.30. We waited in reception from 3 til 5, before realising we had been forgotten. What a day.
We just went to bed, there is a TV channel that plays English films so we would just watch that until sleep. I swear to God, that particular night was Harry Potter marathon. I couldn’t believe it. Those close to me will know why that’s the worst film night ever for me, and for those that don’t know, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.
Monday morning, and I woke to Gemma bringing me my pills. She had been out with the prescription and wallet all on her own and brought me what I needed. Her prices are much better than the doctors too!
After breakfast we made a beeline for Kanoo Tours, and the lady was very apologetic and rang Cholitas Wrestling, who said their guide had forgotten us. We were entitled to a full refund and a new VIP ticket for next weeks show. Thankfully we don’t fly to Bogota until Monday. Kanoo had been professional and fair with us from the start, so we opted to book horse riding to Muela Del Diablo with them too.
We left happy and after a walk around local shops we hopped on ‘Mi Telerifico’, which is a cable car system recently installed in La Paz, linking it with El Alto, the city at the top of the mountain (La Paz is in a valley).
I had lunch in El Alto, white rice as per Docs orders, but I don’t think Gemma fancied street food. It was stupidly cheap here as there are no tourists or backpackers. We took a nice walk, stopping only to see a nice building and a group of middle aged drunks playing football. It was good to see and they ended up drawing quite a crowd.
We went back down the cable car system’s red line (the only one that’s open, when the other 2 open it will be the worlds largest cableway) and went to buy some football tops for my brothers and nephews. They’re really cheap here, so I sent some home.
We ate lunch at Namas Te, a vegetarian place that is tasty and damn cheap. We paid 48 Bolivianos for 2 meals and 2 drinks, and the bread they bring out with a dip for you to enjoy before your meal. We took a walk, grabbing Gemma some new PJ bottoms on the way round. We visited the coca museum too, which doesn´t let you take photos. It´s very informative, but Gemma got bored and didn´t think it was worth the 15Bs entry.
The next day (September 2nd) was the day of my horse riding to Muela Del Diablo, or Devils Tooth. Gemma wants to ride in Costa Rica rather than here. After a lazy morning, we ate at Hotel Calacoto in Zona Sur, which is the meeting point. The food was overpriced but really nice. Just before 2.30pm, we met the guide, Walter. Straight away I knew he was mad, one of those guys with too much energy and an unrivalled zest for life, constantly loud and laughing.
We jumped in a cab to the horse ranch, and on the way he told us his nickname is the ´Crazy Bolivian´. No surprise there. Anyway, we were getting on well, and he took me to meet the horses.
I whipped on my riding hat and hopped on. After a few circles practicing with the reins (left, right, faster, slower, please don´t kick me off, etc.) we were ready to hit the mountain track. My horse was relatively well behaved, especially compared to the Walters, the only trouble was it loved to walk right at the edge of the track, leaving me staring down drops of anywhere between 10 metres and 1000 metres. Staying calm was the order of the day, as panic just sets the horses off on a mad one.
The track was uphill but not difficult, a nice ride (for me anyway, Walters horse kept trying to run). We went at a nice pace and took in some great views. We reached the tooth and I chose the quickest route back to the ranch, which Walter informed me was riskier, but I went for it anyway. The path has holes in from the heavy rains that had recently been. We declined steadily and saw more fantastic views. There was a point on the path where mountain was on the right and a drop on the left. Typically my horse was hugging the left side of the track, narrowly avoiding huge potholes as we went. I was leaning back, as instructed, and taking it slow, when a truck came behind us. I stopped the horse, and was waiting for the truck to pass when Walter shouts ´No, wrong side! You must be on the mountain side when vehicles pass because the horses back up a little in anxiety!´ Great, if we backed up anymore we´d be goners so I moved the horse to the right side, but we weren´t flush with the mountain, so the horse couldn´t see the truck at all, and as the vehicle approached the horse bolted and just in time Walter grabbed the reins and we had 2 horses side by side, pegging it down a dusty track with a truck in tow. I panicked a bit, but kept patting the horse saying ´it´s okay´, trying to get it to slow down. My left leg was now over the ass of Walters horse (was being crushed before) and I was loosening my right foot from the stirrup ready for a jumping escape as we were getting closer and closer to the dangerous edge. Just before we toppled, Walter halted his horse, which in turn halted mine. He told me to get off, so I did, gladly. The truck passed slowly and we walked the rest of the short distance back to the stables. Food is included, and a 3 hour ride will set you back around 35GBP. I gave my food to my horse once we got back, for not killing me.
It was a good experience, and I would recommend it to all riders that are okay with heights, but only the confident should choose the quick way down!
That night we went to Oliver´s Tavern once again (good food and drink) and ate mash, gravy and veg with a couple of drinks. Baring in mind this was only our 9th day in La Paz, we had already bagged ourselves 25% discount for being good customers! Very nice of them.