A Stone's Throw

practice your aim. you never know when you'll spy 2 birds at once.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Salaar de Uyuni

To begin the journey that I´ve looked forward to for so long, I had to take a bus from Tupiza to Uyuni. This turned out to be the shakiest, dodgiest ride ever, but not only because of the rickity bus. For a good portion of the trip, the bus driver decided to drive down a river. To save time or because there was no other road, I have no idea why, but we sloshed down the mud, rock, and water, heedless of any logic that would say this was a bad idea.


In the end, we arrived in Uyuni fine, though shaken, literally. To the left is a pic out of the window of the river we were driving down.

For several years I´ve wanted to go on a trek through Bolivia´s Salaar de Uyuni and a few days ago I got the chance. I joined up with the ever-easy travelling trio of Steve and Ester (New Zealand) and Laura (England) to catch a jeep for a 1,000-mile journey over what could easily be considered one of the most amazing expanses of wilderness on the planet.



We started off in the small, freezing town of Uyuni, met our driver, loaded up the jeep, and off we went. First up was the stunning Salaar, a 4,000 square mile expanse of pure white salt. The slat flats provide a serious amount of revenue for the region, despite it being harvested with old fashion methods. The stunning whiteness combined with the cloudless blue sky made it incredibly difficult to look at.




















That night we stayed in a hotel made entirely of salt - the walls, tables, chairs, and beds. This would be the first of two ridiculously cold nights. Cold like South Dakotans could understand.






The next day we toured a series of lakes and lagoons, each more spectacular than the last. Of the notables, were Laguna Verde (the green lake), Laguna Blanco (white), Laguna Azul (blue), and Laguna Colorado (an intense lake of blood red). With the intense sky, the mountains, splashed with green, pink, yellow, and white, shone down on the lakes in perfect reflections. Along the lakes were flamingos, llamas, alpacas, foxes, and any number of kinds of wildfowl I could not identify. Each time, moving on was difficult.




That day we took a break at a small pueblo where I spent 30 minutes in an impromptu pickup soccer game with 2 future futbol stars. but let me tell you - futbol at 12,000 feet is no joke on the lungs.














(me and my opponents taking time for a photo-op)


Further on we encountered stones scattered across the landscape in bizarre shapes like a Salvatore Dali painting come to life.





The second night we camped at 15,000 ft (in height: over halfway up Mt. Everest) which was so cold that everyone had to wear 6-7 layers, jump in sleeping bags, cover themselves in 4-5 llama blankets, and pray they saw the morning. We did, and were treated with the sunrise sight of geysers pouring out steam from a nearby volcano.









At the end of the day the only mishap was a blown tire which set us back a bit, but nothing that our fearless driver couldn´t make up with some considerable reckless driving.

4 Comments:

  • At 11:15 AM , Anonymous Dale said...

    This entry told the best story of all of your blogs so far. I got more of a sense of place from both the photos and the text. You should include a picture of yourself more often. It gives us readers more of a connection to the person that we're reading about. Thanks for all of the writing advice. I feel a lot better.

     
  • At 8:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    wow! what terrain! But what happened to the Jungle you said you were going to?

    Very cool photos, too!

    Dad

     
  • At 11:43 AM , Anonymous Patch said...

    Very nice stuff bro.

    Reminds me of some of the scenes in the first star wars movie where Anikan races his pod.

    Nice.

     
  • At 5:40 AM , Anonymous Jamie said...

    I agree with Dale, this was the best blog thus far! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also enjoyed the pics.... lets us know you are really still alive and well. :) The jeep ride sounded more than satisfactory. HA I imagine the architecture of salt was great for the lungs as well. Could have lived without the hypothermic nights though, I imagine :) Stay well.

     

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