Salty water = crusty socks

Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
Trip End Jul 19, 2013

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

They sell trips on a per jeep basis here. To get costs down, you need to try and fill your jeep. As we were apparently bucking the trend by doing a 2-day vs. a 4-day tour, we found ourselves nearly priced out of the market. Thankfully another lady turned up at the 11th hour to make our short trip to the Salt Flats of Uyani, affordable.

Our guide, Carmel, spoke very little English but had a winne-the-pooh laugh and played powerballads (oh, yes you can't beat a bit of Phil Collins whilst travelling the Bolivian outback), which sealed the deal - we liked Carmel.

Our new groupie was an older lady from Finland. Very chatty. Very, um, worldy. She had lots of stories that needed to be listened to. In full. She had done everything, seen everything, and got the T-shirt apparently. Harmless enough though, we just took turns at listening duty.

The Bolivian landscape is a phenomenon, so vast and ever-changing. Every 30 mins your picture window changes. In our jeep we travelled along the one road to Uyani and passed a handful of remote villages (some without any electricity) but they all had something in common...full-sized football pitches - weird to see what things truely are universal.

After 8 hours on the bumpy dirt track (on which we had also passed a grounded tornado!!) we arrived in Uyani. A tiny, flat town, surrounded by its own waste - not a pretty sight. 

We pulled down a quiet road and stopped outside a metal gate, branching two typical mud brick walls. Cue "OMG, do you think this is where we're sleeping tonight?!". A clank, creek and clunk later and we're parked on the driveway of a local's house - not partic on par with the Hilton. To help set the scene, there was manky meat on the washing line, drying right next to their clothes. You had to pay for a shower, aka, a plastic bowl + hose. And, there were flies everywhere. To compound matters we turned down a relatively clean double room to share a dirty dorm with our new Finnish companion (who hadn't wanted to stay in the "cave" that she had been allocated).

We ventured out to book our escape bus to La Paz for the next day, there was one catch, our trip finished at 12pm, but the daily bus wasn't until 8pm. We knew this would be painful as there was NOTHING to do in Uyani - it was a chequerboard of tour operators, hostels and average pizza restuarants.

So, we were up at 4am the next day to hit the Salt Flats which were apparently a bit flooded. Finnish lady assured us that these were the best conditions and popped on her flip flops. We stayed in walking boots. 

Expecting a long journey, considering the horrific start time, we were at the Flats within 45 mins. It was amazing, bloody artic temperatures, but incredible to see (note: flip flops were not suitable attire, yes, 1-0 to us!). 

A few hours on the massive, cold, but beautiful puddle and it was back to Uyani to wait it out until our evening bus. We tried to use the internet but it was shoddy so we camped out in one of the many pizza places and tried to fight off the boredom. We found pictionary using the index of our Spanish phrasebook particularly entertaining. Finally 8pm arrived.

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