Another stamp on the passports

Trip Start Sep 13, 2004
Trip End Apr 30, 2005

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, October 15, 2004

It was with great sadness that we left Argentina on Monday. We may not see those luxuries again before we┤re back in Canada. It was also hard to leave Mike but his destination and the next city worth seeing in Argentina was a good 12 hours south and we were heading north...

Before we parted, however, we celebrated Canadian thanksgiving Sunday night with an English chap and an American girl. Turkeys are scarce in this part of the world so we had to substitute a pair of good lookin┤ hens. Mashed potatoes were no problem, nor was the gravy (in such a quantity as to make the Amazon jealous), stuffing was doable although tricky (anyone know what is spanish for "sage"... we don┤t.) Our American compadre chipped in with some spinnach risotto, not exacly traditional but who are we to argue? If you┤re wondering about the Englishman, knowing the reputation of British cuisine, we let him supply the wine... and wash up. All in all it was a feast to be remebered but we still missed our families and their respective celebrations.

The next day, fighting off a mean gravy hangover, we said our goodbyes and headed for the bus terminal. Our destination was the Bolivan border but we only went a few hours before stopping for the night in a small city called San Salvador de Jujuy. We weren┤t sure about our next stop but the guy who ran our hostal in Salta had recommended a small town a few hours to the north, so small, in fact, that it was not to be found in the guide book. It turned out to be a sleepy little town with little to offer but the surrounding landscape was beautiful. The town was nestled in a small valley in the Andes surrounded by arid hills of red, green and purple (a result, we assume of the mineral deposits.) It turned out it was well worth the stop. The following morning we left town and no less than three buses, a taxi and 10 hours later we arrived in our first Bolivian destination, Tupiza!

Tupiza is a small town in Southwest Boliva at about 9,000 feet with it┤s international claim to fame being that it is very near to the site where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made their last stand against the Bolivian army. If you are so inclined you can walk or ride to the apparent site. We were not. Our reason for coming to Tupiza was to get on a tour of the Salar, the world┤s largest salt flats (and much more.) We spent a day checking out the town and adjusting to the altitude... again. Bolivia is a world away from Argentina: The roads are almost all dirt, the buildings made from mud bricks, there are very few cars and most of the population are of pure indigenous heritage. We had lunch in the market, consiting of fresh squeezed OJ and salte˝as (the local specialty, a deep-fried pocket of potatoes and meat) for less than $1!

Today, our second day in Tupiza, we went horseback riding for five hours. Turns out five hours is a long time to be on a horse for a couple of city slickers, sitting down now brings great pain. Nevertheless, it was worth it - the scenery was incredible with jagged red rocks, deep canyons and huge cacti... it was hard to describe. We felt like Cassidy and the Kid on the run from the law. (Needless to say, if that was the case we wouldn┤t have got far on our U-shaped steeds.) We now sit, in great pain, covered in red dirt and glad to be rid of our transportation (it was not difficult to bid goodbye to those two glue sticks) but thoroughly happy.

Tomorrow we are off on a four day, three night tour of the Salar via gringo filled jeep. We are looking forward to the trip that everyone we have met here has raved about.

Julie┤s comments: (Pete can be a bit of a keyboard hog...)

The horseback riding wasn┤t as bad as Pete made it sound, I┤d do it all over again in a second as the scenery was breathtaking, you really have to see it to believe it and I┤m sure that our pictures won┤t do it any justice.
Also I think that it will take us (me anyways) a few more days to adjust to the Bolivian way of life, the coffee is terrible, the bread is even worse and don┤t get me started on the buses (I am not looking farward to peeing on the side of the side of the road in the company of 60 Quechua folk... remeber this is desert, there are no trees). I miss Argentina...

Bye for now,
Pete and Julie
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