Viviendo El Ahora

Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
Trip End May 06, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, April 9, 2009

When the Volcano erupted, the Earth opened up and swallowed the Sea leaving behind miles of blinding white. Thus, the Salar de Uyuni (the Uyuni salt flats) were born.

I wrote:

I am coated in salt, dust, and dried sweat. My pants are probably completely ruined from the salt and I have hysterical tan lines from my tank top. I spent the entire afternoon in a salt desert completely devoid of water and actually  felt, for a moment, afraid of the sun.

We are staying in a small village at the very edge of the salar tonight. I am in awe that people live here. I feel so abused by the sun and we were only in it for a few hours; these people live in a place where the sun scorches everything in sight all day long and when it finally goes down, you are blessed with a shocking frigidity. Where do they get water in this salt desert? Itīs a fascinating place. The white clouds blending into the blue of the sky and darker blue of the faraway mountains then fading once again into a white so pure it could be the first snowfall of winter.

Iīm in a group with four South Americans and I am incredibly thankful for that. My Spanish comprehension continues to pleasantly surprise me, though my speech is still shamefully embarassing. Raquel and Eduardo are from Brazil, where they speak Portuguese; Mattius and Agostina are from Argentina, where they speak a difficult accented Spanish that Iīm finding it hard to follow.

Viviendo El Ahora comes from Matti and Agos, it means "Live in Now" - which is what their trip means to them and exactly what mine means to me. Itīs interesting what a different affect different people have on me. I wasnīt looking forward to this tour and having to be forced into another group of "tourists" doing "tourist things" but these four have been such a joy - and itīs been such an experience trying to understand each other!

My favourite part was one day when Marcos (our Bolivian I really WAS on my own!...driver) said something really quickly in Spanish that I didnīt catch, so I asked Raquel (who speaks a bit of Spanish and a bit of English) when he said and she started to explain it to me in Portuguese. At first I was nodding as if I understood, then I realized I couldnīt and for a second I wondered if I had acquired a brain tumour because she was speaking English! Oh no, wait, no she isnīt. The look on my face must have said a thousand words because she stopped and we both burst out laughing for a good, long time.

I have been enjoying their company and my successful attempts at communication. Iīll be sad to part ways tomorrow when I head into Chile.

After three days in the mountains, sweating and freezing, I finally arrived at the Chilean border yesterday and was shocked as the unmarked dirt road turned into a paved, divided highway. I, once again, felt culture shocked by the familiarity of Chilean wealth. Street signs! Cement! Traffic lights! WHOA.

Raquel and Eduardo were also going to Chile, so we three hopped onto the first bus from San Pedro de Atacama (the border) to Santiago (the capital) and 24 hours later, here we are. Iīll be here for a couple days and then Iīm headed straight to the beach!

Enjoy the pictures. The salt flat ones are pretty cool.
xox K 
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