So little time, yet so much was seen
Bolivia was one country where we had not planed to spend much time as we had been there 3 years ago and seen a few sites around the country such as La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Isla de Sol. The primary reason for our visit to the country this time around was to see the world famous Salt Flats at Uyuni and boy it was worth the trip!
Chapter 1: Salar de Uyuni
We crossed the Chile-Bolivia border from San Pedro de Atacama along with 18 other travelers in the early hours of the morning and were brought to our respective jeeps that awaited on the Bolivian side of the border. We had booked our trip through ‘Atacama Mistica’ and their very cheerful boss Julio Caesar helped us load our backpacks onto the Jeeps, all with a smile on his face and a song escaping his lips. Top bloke!
It took us a good half hour to get the Jeeps ready and I used the time to explore the area around us which included an old train yard.
I was slotted into our Jeep with four other girls, two from Mexico, one from Spain and one from Finland, and was happy to have formed my own little harem for the next 3 days. The girls were adorable and Dee and I grew very fond of each of them over the duration of our trip.
In one of the other Jeeps, we also had 3 young Brasilian boys and by now I think its a fairly well established fact that having Brasilians with you always guarantees a good time and a good time it was with Andrew ‘Maximus’, Felipe and Roberto. There’s this undying happiness that engulfs the personalities of most Brasilians as it was the case with these blokes and we had a great time playing poker and dancing through the nights in the desert.
Our first day included stops at some of the most stunning lakes I’d ever seen and a stay in a salt hostel outside of which the clear night sky shone in its full glory. The hostel beds, the pillars were all made of salt, so a bottle of tequilla came quite handy.
After braving freezing temperatures overnight at the hostel, we were awoken at 5am and driven to watch the geysers atop one of the active volcanoes in the region. The sight was quite similar to what we had seen in San Pedro, yet was a refreshing start to day 2 of our trip.
We also drove past some fincas (farms) with Llamas roaming around in large numbers and had lunch observing their pack who in turn observed us with equal amusement.
Our trip climaxed on day 3 with us finally driving towards the invisible horizon of Salar De Uyuni. We were awe struck at how white and massive the landscape was and it almost feel like we were on the moon. As people do, the lot of us went mental clicking perspective shots, dancing on the worlds largest dance floor and as it happens when you give people what seems like never ending space, they tend to run around like headless chickens. I might have been a classic example.
Chapter 2: NYE at La Paz
Now that we were done and dusted with the Salar, we wanted to get to Peru as quickly as possible as we’d already seen the sights that are in between La Paz and the Peruvian border the last time around.
However, we decided to make a pit stop in La Paz and spend NYE with an Australian-Bolivian couple, Jack and Mariola, who had invited us to stay with them through CS.
Now I consider La Paz to be a very pretty city that could have so much more potential if the government took some measures to ensure that the streets were cleaner and if the houses had some color adorned on them. It’s landscape reminded me of Rio de Janerio, though I feel the city has a long way to go before it can compare to Rio.
Jack and Mariola lived on the southern outskirts of La Paz amidst the mountains and the view from their house was absolutely stunning. The view atop the mountain besides their house provided the perfect platform to watch the NYE fireworks and we brought it in with a few other members of the CS community at La Paz. The NYE customs that the locals follow in Latin America and in Spain and Italy as well is quite hilarious to say the least. People wear red or yellow underwear for luck in matters related to the heart and the bedroom, carry a briefcase of cash and travel on a short trip as it is believed that the actions taken on the cusp of NYE is what will recur for the rest of the year. I obediently followed the red underwear custom.
Jack and Mariola also run an interactive tour of the city, whereby they play out the history of the city between themselves and people from the tour in the form of a drama. It was highly entertaining and I would definitely recommend these guys to anyone who is keen on getting to know a bit of the highly volatile history that Bolivia has.
Next Stop: Peru