After spending a day on the Salar (salt flat), we continued making a massive loop through the desert in our land cruiser through martian landscapes of red, yellow, green, white, and adobe, with bizarre multi-colored salt lagoons packed with flamingos.
Flamingos! I always associated the pink birds with Florida and high-school lawn pranks. I had no idea they would hang, let alone thrive in freezing deserts at 12,000 feet at the base of volcanoes.
The lagoons were surreal - even without all the flamingos. One lagoon was was emerald green. Another blood red. We saw milk white and jet black lagoons. And they were all dotted with flamingos and salt icebergs. It didn't feel of this planet.
We ventured into an active volcano crater with bubbling pots of mud and geysers. One mud pot had a rolling boil like soup on the stove. The next had one bubbler in the middle, and would send a blob of mud up about 12 inches in lava-lamp bloby fashion with a cute "Bloop...Bloop" sound. Another mud pot looked like thick oatmeal boiling and splattering all over the stove. The whole place smelled of sulfur and was shrouded in mist. At dawn it made for an unforgettable scene.
The highlight of the crater was a geyser that goes off most of the time - if this geyser were in the US or Europe they'd put up a fence and require people to stand back thousands of feet and watch with binoculars. However, this is a Bolivian geyser! When the geyser goes off our guide urged us to hurry up and jump into the steam to get a good photo. I took a mildly interesting blow-my-coat and fog-my-glasses shot, but an Israeli backpacker got an excellent shot of the geyser ricocheting off his butt in a giant fart-joke photo. The steam was hot, so we all appreciated the suffering he must have gone through to get the shot. Bravo!
We were hoping to find a girl with a dress willing to do a Marylin Monroe shot, but all the girls wore travel pants and hiking boots.