Oh Bolivia. Who knew you had snow? AND ostriches?!
The 13 hour bus ride was sweltering hot and indeed took 13 hours, in which on our baño break I bought chicken and fries to feed to a timid and skinny stray dog. Arriving in Uyuni, was not so different from arriving in La Paz. It felt and looked like that Will Smith movie, I Am Legend, where New York City is taken over by zombies and all of the buildings just look dark, abandoned and shadowy. Bolivia is kind of like that, with a hint of New Orleans, post-Katrina.
We wandered around for about an hour looking for real food and a pharmacy. Neither was found. Eventually we just headed to our tour agency office to leave our backpacks and find wifi. I sent out my last few messages of wish me luck before we met up with the two Canadian girls and a Dutch couple we would be traveling with the next three days.
Lorenzo, our tour guide came to swoop us up and off we went. To the salt flats! Absolutely spectacular. Truly a once in a lifetime experience. Bolivia is home to the largest expansion of salt flats, that are remnants of a former sea that depleted little by little over the past few thousand years. Although it looks like ice, it is all dry salt. Some of the best parts still have a quarter inch residue of rainfall, that allows you to capture a double landscape (Yes, it’s as breathtaking as a double rainbow). The mountains and endless salt flats along with the reflection of the clouds in the watery salts is just awesome. If it’s not already a wonder of the world, it should be.
Food and accommodations were as basic as we all expected. Rice accompanied by a vegetable or meat and dirt floors. For reals, the walls were made of salt. As the days went on, and the more lagoons we saw, the weather got colder. We spent the minimal electricity nights playing cards and drinking as much tea as we could.
The third and final day, after sleeping cozily in a 6 bed room, we woke up at 4 am in order to see the sunrise near the geysers, about an hour away. The highlight of my morning actually wasn’t the sunrise, but the stars. Stars completely filled the sky, all the way down to the horizons, dotting the tops of the mountains. The moon was no where in sight, which is why it was so clear. It even gave us the Milky Way. I had never seen the Milky Way so close up.
As we wrapped up the tour and finally got on a real road that wasn’t made up of rocks, streams and cactus, we got a flat tire. Luckily, Lorenzo, is highly skilled professional (who not only invited me back to Bolivia to help him harvest quinoa) but who can also change a flat in under 5 minutes. He got us back to Uyuni in just enough time for some of us to get pizza and for me to get back on my 13 hour bus!