Dirty Old Town

Trip Start Jun 05, 2007
Trip End Jun 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, September 16, 2007

It had been a real slog of a night after boarding the bus in La Paz, then about 2am in the morning, we hit the desert, and roads began to get bumpy - something like being given the bumps at school constantly for about 6 hours... This is not conjusive for getting to sleep ! Twice during the night the bus stopped for a tyre or two to be changed, which involved long continious beating of metal against metal by the driver - again, not helping the sleeping thing. Suffice to say when the bus finally pulled up in Uyuni we were both tired, cranky and feeling quite sick.
We grabbed our bags, found our hostel and began searching the multitudes of tour operators offering the trips into the Salt Flats and the deserts beyond, our reason for coming to this small dusty outpost in the middle of pretty much nowhere. With no reccommendations in the LP to use as a guide we went into it blind and chose the tour company as the woman who ran it seemed nice and did not try and throw in a million other things, whilst bartering herself down with the price - It is great not to have to barter, but there is something slightly desperate about a company who in 5 minutes drops 25% off the price of a tour!.
We filled the rest of the day up wandering the main streets of this crazy little place, having a couple of the now obligatory daily cerveza´s and sampling the local cuisine - Well chips anyway! - We were tired !!
Uyuni is a frontier town - the first port of call between Chile and Argentina by Train. Set up to receive goods from the Silver mines in Potosi and goods from the other direction it was a hive of activity for 100 years, but with falling production in the mines and bigger reserves being found elsewhere, the town began to fall into ruin going the way most of these places do and ending up as a ghost town. However luckily before this could happen the salt flats and deserts beyond became popular tourist destinations and it is estimated that almost 85% of the town now relys on the tourist trade - So much so that the town that was once in decline is now expanding and developing faster than ever.
After freshening up and with the temperature dropping like a stone we decided to try a recommendation out of the LP for dinner, a Pizza restaurant with rave reviews. It was a little out of the way, and down a dark unlite street, but within seconds of walking through the door, the warmth from the huge handmade pizza oven, low level candel light at every table and extensive menu warmed us both. We order quickly and were greeted 10 minutes later with a pizza the size of our table, half topped with veg, the other, spicy LLama meat ! Amazing!!
Tomorrow is Monday and we head out at 10am - the arid deserts of the south of Bolivia, which run into the Atacama of Chile await us, but first the Salt flats.
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