Woody, the wild wild south of Bolivia, and me.

Woody, the wild wild south of Bolivia, and me.

If there’s one thing Gemma would change about me it would probably be my idols. Nothing else. I’m sure there can be nothing else, otherwise why would she agree to marry me?

She thinks I’ve modelled myself on a cross between George Michael and Woody from Toy Story (also from Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. Sadly, as an actor Woody is a victim of typecasting). She’s right of course – I love Woody, I love his outlook on life, his desire to always be playing with his best friends and his taste in fashion. God I love his taste in fashion. But it’s not just Woody, generally I just like all cowboys.

And as for George Michael, I don’t think I need to explain that one, but if you do feel you need an explanation I refer you to his 1987 solo album ‘Faith’.

Anyway, when we found out about a place called Tupiza in Bolivia I got incredibly excited, because Tupiza is cowboy country. A quick session on google images before we set off on our world wide adventure was enough to make us want to miss the rest and go straight to Bolivia. We didn’t though because that would have been stupid.

The pictures were all of red rocks, vast sandy landscapes and dusty Wild West styled buildings, banks and saloons. Well, I say saloons, I think they prefer to be called bars and restaurants. But that’s not what woody would have called them, and therefore that’s not what I call them. The pictures were accurate – as we stepped off the bus at 2 in the morning we were greeted by a large statue of a cowboy riding a horse and it was clear, even in the dim light, that the town was a genuine wild western gem. Except instead of actually being in the Wild West it lies in the south of Bolivia.

We arranged to go horse riding, bike riding and jeep riding in Tupiza. I truly felt like a hero riding my horse around small waterfalls and between cartoony desert cliffs. I wanted to rescue Gemma from a bad sherif like I’ve seen happen in so many films. My horse broke into a gallop, I held on, waved the cowboy hat I’d bought in India in the air and shouted. “Ye- ha!”Oddly shaped rocks

I’ve been told since this however, that what I actually happened was that my horse broke into a light trot, I nearly lost the cowboy hat I’d bought in India and I screamed like a girl. As it turns out, if anyone was going to get rescued it was going to be me.

The jeep ride was almost pointless because our driver couldn’t speak any English and seemed more interested in picking up his girlfriend than talking to us in our broken Spanish, but we did get to see some strange rock formations during the drive. We ended up at the top of a mountain with two bikes to ride down. It was nearing dusk (best get inside before the saloon fights break out…), the roads were bumpy and felt quite dangerous but the scenery was stunning. So stunning in fact that we barely even rode anywhere for the first 30 minutes!

The next morning, after spending the night with a Russian man who was quite persistently persuading us to start yoga, we left Tupiza on a local bus.

Not once over the two days had I found a snake in my boot, and thankfully no one had poisoned the water hole (although the kid sat next to us on the bus did start peeing down the isle). We didn’t get into any showdowns nor did we jump between galloping horses in a valiant attempt to capture the baddie. But I’d felt like a true cowboy riding my big white stallion over the land where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had once ridden before me. And where Woody probably would have ridden if he wasn’t restricted to Andy’s room. I had felt like a true cowboy, but also, I had screamed like a proper girl.

Gemma cowgirl

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