Salt Lake City!

Trip Start Mar 01, 2011
Trip End Jun 12, 2011

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Where I stayed
City Hotel

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, March 28, 2011

Before we took the overnight bus to Uyuni we made the mistake of having our washing done the night before for 5.30pm pick up on the day of our journey. Our bus wasn’t until 7.00pm. On Friday we went to collect our washing but we were a few minutes early so wandered up and down the street window (stall) shopping. There was all types of things on sale like llama foetuses to bring you good luck. What a great idea for a souvenir, hmm, not sure about that! When we returned at 5.30 for the washing the laundry was closed, this is when I got into a panic. We decided to wait till 5.50 before Luke headed back to the hostel to collect our bags. The lady returned from collecting our washing from the laundrette at 6.15 and although they were washed they weren’t dry, to add to that Luke’s 2 main items required for the next part of our journey, his hoodie and trousers were missing! This is when I lost my cool. When Luke returned with our bags we all got into the taxi to the laundrette to find the missing items. I had already advised the lady that we will not be paying full price for the shit service. We agreed a price and when it came time to pay, she wanted more. We had a bit of a struggle, me trying to close the cab door and go to the bus terminal and her trying to keep it open until I gave her 10 Bolivianos (less than 1 pound) more, it was the principle! hehe This went on for a while and caused a scene, she called the other ladies from the laundrette out, we had the cabbie on our side and it was all going on, lol. Eventually we gave in as we had to get our bus but not before I gave her a piece of my mind using all the Spanish vocabulary I know! :) We made it in time to get our bus out of La Paz and onto Uyuni. I’m surprised the bus made it there, the whole front bumper was missing! (see pic)

We arrived in Uyuni at 8.00am and were swarmed with ladies selling tours to the Salares (the world’s largest salt flats), their main attraction and our reason for being there. We agreed to go with the agent who threw in drying our clothes, hehe. We were on the 3 day tour and were picked up in a jeep with 2 other Australians (one from a Bolivian background) and 2 Canadians at 11.00 that day. We headed first to the train cemetery where there was loads of old, abandoned trains. From there we went onto a little town where the salt process was explained to us before we reached the salares. Although it’s the rainy season and part of them were under water, there were still beautiful but the camera tricks were not as effective :( On the route we started to experience some problems with our driver/guide who was quite rude to us when he spoke. The Australians had some issues where they were sold a tour but the guide advised parts would not be offered. He drove us back to Uyuni for them to address the issues with their agency before we headed off on the rest of our tour. Whilst there he went on to inform the rest of us about the other parts of the tour that we may have been sold but would not be included. Eg, no double room accommodation, no drinks with dinner. Everyone started to get a bit annoyed about it and the driver decided he was not going to continue the tour. What a nightmare but it was a blessing in disguise. He wasn’t the nicest of tour guides and to have to put up with him for the next 3 days would’ve been too much. We stopped at the agency and tried to get another driver but to no avail. The problem with tours in Bolivia especially at la salar, a lot of agencies join forces with others to make up the numbers which can result in problems which is what we experienced. We had 3 agents all in one agency trying to resolve the situation. We all agreed that we did not wish to continue with the tour and would minus one day off the refund. Easier said than done. It took threats to call the police and other potential clients enquiring what was going on before they finally gave in. We then went on to book another overnight bus out of there before settling down for dinner and beers with the Aussies. At 8.00pm we boarded our bus to Oruro with a cracked windscreen (no MOT/RWC required here) and no toilet. Halfway, there was a toilet stop, I say toilet, it was the biggest open air loo in vacant land across from people’s houses, where women, men and children all went to relive themselves. At least there was no charge for a change, hehe. At 3.30am we had a change over to Cochabamba where we arrived at 8.00am exhausted! We decided to splurge to recharge the batteries so we opted to stay in a hotel where we have hot water, a double bed and tv, such luxury! Just in case you thought it was one all fun and games, it is but maybe not all the ones we were looking for! Next stop Brazil…



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