May 15, 2006
Jul 06, 2006
. We went and saw a hotel made of salt, which was also no biggie, but after that we drove for about an hour on the flats, and prayed that our driver, Carlos, would stay awake and not kill us all as we headed out for the Island of the Cactus. The Island of the Cactus was amazing as well. One thing I learned first hand from this trip is that being at 3000 meters above sea level makes you feel like you are in the worst shape of your life. Anyway, Cactus Island was a blast to climb and a dozen rolls of film waiting to happen, or in my case a memory card. We ate lunch at Catus Island, and after lunch I walked around the island a bit and sat down on the salt just to think about things, and there was absolute and complete silence. Im not sure Ive ever been more uncomfortable. I cant even remember if Ive ever experienced complete silence before. It was incredible and very weird at the same time. After lunch we headed for San Juan, where we would be spending the night. On the way however, I proceeded to spill my beer all over myself, see some great reflections of mountains off the wet part of the salt flats, and learn that a whole family of Bolivians had frozen to death when their car broke down in the middle of the salt flats. So , about an hour before sunset we rolled into San Juan. We ended up having a fantastic diner prepared by one of Carlos`s girlfriends, and then I went to bed so as to avoid being absolutely frozen for the rest of the night. I think the average temperature on this trip was about 28 degrees F. Needless to say that as a true Texan I was cold all the time.
So, today was an absolutely incredible day. We left Uyuni at around 11 am, and by we I mean Mike, Naudia, Ryan, Jesus, Norbert, and myself. First we went to the cemetery of trains, which was relatively unspectacular except for the fact that I kept wondering how many people had gotten tetanus from climbing all over the rusted trains. Next, we drove back into Uyuni looking for a cook, to no avail I might add, before heading to a neighboring town where they process salt from the salt flats. Wanna hear a ridiculous fact? You can buy 50 kg of salt in Bolivia for 8 bolivianos (1 US dollar). Anyway, after I learned how to process salt which required heating, grinding, iodine addition, and bagging, we headed out into the great white abyss. The salt stretched for miles, and made for some extremely fun picture taking. It was so beautiful, that I dont really know a good way to describe it. Supposedly, it is up to 30 feet deep in some places. That is a lot of salt my friends. Needless to say, I wasn't worried about body preservation if I got stuck out there