Temporary passport in hand we have now made it to Chile, our last stop in South America.
After our little trip up the glacier, we returned to La Paz and caught a night bus to a place called Uyuni in south Bolivia. Following our last trip on Bolivian buses, wherein we nearly froze to death and my passport got nicked, it was a relative pleasure.
Arriving in Uyuni at 6:30 am you are greeted by a grey, windswept town with a post apocalyptic feel. Again very cold. After a couple of hours sleep we booked ourselves onto a 3 day tour of the salt plains, being the reason people go to Uyuni in the first place.
The next 3 days were taken up with early starts, cold showers, hostels made of salt, jeep rides and fantastic scenery. From our jeep we travelled through or around; salt plains (picture above), mountains, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lagoons and flamingos. Pictures hopefully on facebook soon. In short though, spectacular stuff.
The tour drops you on the Chilean border, from where you cross into a place called San Pedro De Aticama. San Pedro is another surreal little place, more wild west than South America and more gringos than Chileans. We spent a couple of days there, during which we tried our hands (feet?) at sandboarding (Dan narrowly avoiding concussion in the process) and saw sunset at the valley of the moon. Cue more mountain / sunset photos.
Finally we caught another (16 hour) bus south to La Serena on the Pacific coast, where we have spent the day walking to the beach and eating ice cream. Very chilled out. From our experiences of the last week, this confirmed that ice should definitely be eaten and not climbed.
- The wonder of (non) prescription drugs - On our salt plain tour were two chaps from Somerset. The accommodation was somewhat ‘basic’ and very cold. Their solution to this was to take copious amounts of valium, which is available over the counter in Bolivia, washed down with whisky. Short term it seemed to work brilliantly. Long term though?
- Andy’s Andes - We met an Aussie couple on a bus who had done the salt plains tour and highly recommended their tour company, the name of which was “Andy’s salt tours”. After half an hour of fruitlessly looking for Andy and his tour company, the penny dropped as we wandered into “Andes salt tours”. Silly boys.
- Holiday? - As I write we have now gone 2 days without a) going up a mountain b) going into a desert c) getting up at 5am for a tour d) hiking up, along or around something - I’m in real danger of being relaxed.
- Master Linguist – I’ve been in South America for 7 weeks now, so how has my Spanish progressed? Not well. This week I’ve discovered that instead of saying “No habla espanol” (I don’t speak Spanish) I’ve been saying “No PABLO espanol” (hilariously – I don’t Pablo Spanish). Ironically this probably made the point better than I ever could in fluent Spanish...