Salt Flats tour - Day 1

Trip Start Sep 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 24, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hotel Samarikuni

Flag of Bolivia  , Potosí,
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Met my tour group at 10:30 am.  3 Dutch chicas (Sisca, Rosa and Kiera) plus 1 English bloke (James). 

First we went to the 'Train Graveyard' to look at old rusting locomotives.  I don't know anything about trains so this part was pretty boring.  But I took plenty of pictures =)  Juan, our guide, explained the trains were from the UK and when Bolivia upgraded to new trains, these were sent to the desert to 'die'.  Most were about 80 years old (and looked every day of it). 

Back into our Toyota Land Cruiser to Playa Blanca (White Beach) for the museum and gift shopping.  I didn't see any signs of water, so not sure why it was called Playa anything =)

Then onto the salt flats...with the white salt surface - it was freakishly white and barren.  Stopped at some salt mines - no need to go underground - they mine the salt off the surface.  Miles and miles of the stuff, yet Bolivia imports 30% of it's salt ???  There are other minerals here and next year will begin mining lithium.  Juan explained the salt flats are basically an ancient dried up lake.  Other minerals are heavier and sank to the bottom.  Salt in the water was the lightest and therefore on the top.  We also stopped at a spot where there is still some water just below the surface. Not sure why, but some salt crystals form in the shape of a square. 

Next onto Isla Pescado - volcanic activity made an island just below the surface and when it was covered in water, coral on top of the black volcanic rock.  Had lunch on the 'beach' of llama steaks, cuscus, salad, Coke and watermelon.  Yep, Coca-cola is found almost EVERYWHERE - domination ???  Walked to the top and took some great pics. 

Off to take pics at a neat location where the lack of landscape creates some cool optical illusions.  See for yourself - I can ride a dinosaur!  Spent a few hours here - riding a dino isn't as easy as it looks  =)

Finally, to the salt hotel for hot drinks before dinner.  Once the sun starts to set, it gets really cold really fast at these altitudes so the hot tea/coffee was fantastic!  Dinner was vegtable soup and spaghetti.  We cracked open the 'prop' bottle of wine I brought - how super smart of me (and modest, hehe)! 

We got a show from a local family band - I think the 2 boys could start a rock/flute band later if they wanted.  They were REALLY good! 

Before lights out, we saw a scorpion.  All got close (as close as we dared) to take pics and when we were done, the lady of the hotel stomped on it.  Obvi she didn't think it was very unusual or photo worthy.

Oh, the salt hotel...everything was made of salt blocks.  It's a natural resource so instead of making adobe bricks, they use salt bricks.  Walls, tables, chairs, beds...all salt blocks.  There were table clothes, chair pads and matresses, but on top of the blocks. I slept like a baby - maybe I can import a salt bed =)

Up early the next day...

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