From Bolivia, to Chile, to Argentina.....

Trip Start Apr 03, 2003
Trip End Oct 01, 2003

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Monday, August 11, 2003

So now Im in Argentina, which at first glance looks like an amazing city with a European feel, although Ive only just got here so will have to report on the city later. In the meantime heres what Ive been doing since leaving my monkeys.... (oh how I miss them)

First stop, Potosi - a town made famous by its silver mines. I visited these mines with a view to purchasing some dynamite and blowing it up! Unfortunately they wouldnt let me blow it up, so I reluctantly handed over my stick of dynamite, fuse and various other explosive chemicals to one of the miners who was in the process of drilling a 25 inch hole in the rock by hand. Wisely I had taken the advice of the guide and not included the 97% proof bottle of alcohol in the goodie bag of presents we all bought for the miners or I reckon I couldve talked him into giving me a private demonstration and I may not have lived to tell the tale.... oh, and a word of warning, if youre ever in the mines at Potosi, dont touch the pretty crystals that are lining the walls of the mines like I did and wonder what it is. Its asbestos. Not the best stuff to be mucking around with......

Next stop, Uyuni. Basically a shithole, but the gateway to the most amazing scenery I have yet to lay eyes upon, the Salar de Uyuni.
I was given the same piece of advice by many travellers. Book with a reputable company! So off I went, to the said reputable company, to find that the 2nd to last space in the next days tour was being given to a lady that looked and acted like The Biddy that lives upstairs from me in London (for those of you that know her, obviously I made a swift exit for the door as I would rather have spent 4 days in hell than in a jeep with anyone like this woman). So off I trotted. To a company not recommended to me, but one just around the corner. Big mistake. Rather than waste half a page ranting about the various things that went wrong on the tour I shall condense it to 4 main points.
1. We left 3 hours late after the company forgot to organise a jeep for our 3 day JEEP tour of the Salar. Hmmmmm
2. Half an hour into the tour, the jeep broke down. In the middle of the salt flats. As a result we had to push start the jeep from here on in
3. No food for lunch.
4. No accommodation booked for our second night. Luckily there was another hostel with rooms available.
Anyway, luckily the scenery was absolutely stunning and I could ignore the fact that all 3 basic essentials of the tour, transport, food and accommodation had been fucked up and a great time was had.

Next stop, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. An oasis in the middle of the desert, the desert being officially the driest place on the planet. A sleepy little town with not much going on, but lots of nice restaurants and bars. Didnt do a lot here apart from chill out. Oh, and try to ignore the drunk couple shagging in the dorm room one night after a night on the Pisco Sours. Who clearly thought that they were being quiet, but werent. Nice......

Next stop, Salta, Argentina. A 12 hour bus trip from San Pedro. I was horrified to find out that I had been seated to an Argentinian version of Austin Powers, both in terms of looks and personality. He did not stop talking complete shite for the first half an hour when I finally discovered that not only was he a complete nutter, but that he had been smoking weed and was really stoned. The giggling type of stoned. Anyway, after tolerating an hour or so of him singing Tatu and jumping up and down on his seat on his knees like an excited 3 year old I finally got rid of him by reading my book and pretending not to understand a word of what he said.... So, onto Salta. We discovered a groovy little bar where the locals provide the entertainment by way of guitars and loud singing. The bar was in an old house that has been used as a travellers stop for a few hundred years and each room had its own little posse of jamming locals. We ate amazing steak, sampled the local beer and marvelled at amazing voices of all those singing.

And now, after a 22 hour bus trip, Im in Buenos Aires! Im staying at an amazing hostel right in the centre of town, and judging by the state of the room Im sharing (knickers, shoes, make up, chic lit books and bottles of wine scattered all over the floor!) I suspect Im going to have a good time with the roomates I have yet to meet. Watch this space for the inevitable drunken tales!
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