Published: August 24th 2011August 24th 2011
Äpologies for the delay in updating the blog - too much fun and too little internet access.
We started the day by picking up props for the Salar de Uyuni - a plastic dinosaur and a few beer bottles. Then we boarded our 4x4's and headed toward the salt plains, stopping at a little village en route that sold handicrafts. Our first stop on the plains was where the locals dry the salt in the sun by piling it into pyramids, once dry trucks come and take it for further drying and packaging.
We continued oo to Isla del Pescado, an Island in the middle of the plains, the scenery is so surreal - nothing for miles and then an island comprising of cactus that are up to 1000 years old. We had lunch before getting stuck into the serious business of taking perspective photographs on the plains - ours were rubbish in comparison to others, boo!
Afterwards we left to go to our hotel, which was on the edge of the salt plains and made entirely of salt. However, we didn't make it very far before on of the other 4x4's ground to a halt....
because the wheel had fallen off! Good job we stopped to help as we had a puncture that had gone unobserved until we disembarked. 2 hours and a beautiful sunset later and we were back on the move.
We had a later than planned dinner, which also turned into a drama when Davide, our tour guide, decided to demostrate how to open a bottle of wine using a shoe and a wall (even though we had a corkscrew). A broken bottle of wine and a slice d finger later and we had a medical problem on our hands that luckily Amelie (a doctor) patched up.
A day spent mostly in the 4x4's travelling to see a volcano on the border of Bolivia and Chile, followed by lunch at a picturesque lake teeming with flamengoes. A couple more issues with the 4x4's of course along the way before we checked in at the hotel. Alcohol was deemed a necessity after dinner and combined nicely with a game or two of cards.
The plan for the day was to see some rocks and a waterfall (as the south of the salt plains was inaccesible due
to snow). The reality is that we saw the rocks, then the 4x4's broke down again, which meant that we missed the waterfall. Katie decided to do some free-climbing on the rocks which went a little pair shaped when she fell... luckily for Katie, but not for Davide, he caught her and received a black eye and bruised back for his troubles.
Back at Uyuni we had an enormous pizza at Minuteman whilst observing much better photos of the salt plains than ours.
A 5-hour coach journey to Potosi took up the majority of the day, although some of the scenery on the way was brilliant (others destroyed by more litter than I've ever seen). We had a walk around the town to see the cathedrals on arrival. In the evening we went to a restaurant that had the best translations to English that we'd seen to date - "bananas bathing in ice-cream" and "fried dad" were a couple of the more amusing entries.
A trip down the silver mines in Potosi coincided with John's birthday. On the way we picked up gifts for the minors, including dynamite, TNT and ammonium nitrate all
retailing for the sum of $3 - less than a beer in Oz! The mines were quite claustrophobic and despite Becky and Claire's initial hesitation it was a great tour and eye-opening insight into Bolivian health and safety (or lack there of).
We travelled 3 hours to Sucre where we celebrated John's birthday properly... John showed his gratitude by giving his version of the full monty as the song "keep your hat on" came on.
In the morning we visited a site where dinosaur footprints had been uncovered. From what we could see there was evidence of at least 4 types of dinosaur that created the prints: 3 herbivores and a carnivore. Pretty impressive.
In the afternoon we visited an orphanage to help provide support and much needed products for the children, all girls aged between 6-14. Youshen went the extra mile (or 3) and bought 2 large dining room tables and a dozen or so chairs - his generous donation was the first time an individual had done something of that magnitude for them, so it was very graciously received.
Becks and I decided to break from the group for dinner to go the a recommend French restaurant. We decided to stay away from the typical French dishes of massamun curry and chicken teriakyi and opted for a rather nice steak.
Spent the day quad biking on the hills above Sucre - a really enjoyable and exhilirating experience! According to the speed-o-meter, which I constantly reviewed and tried to maximise, I reached a top speed of 63kph on a dirt-track before having to slam on the brakes to avoid the back of the preceding quad.
On our last night with a number of the group, including Davide, we let our hair down again and hit the local club for 2-4-1 drinks. All pictures from the night should definitelu be ignored (I think someone must have photo-shopped them!).
We said goodbye to a number of the group and flew to Santa Cruz to begin our next tour with Milton, a Mexican tour guide. The group became more British dominated than before as we found when we went out at night to introduce ourselves over a Bolivian BBQ.
We went to a bio-park where we went to butterfly and bird sanctuaries. Macaws, Toucans and parrots galore, as well as some monkeys spotted on an Island in a lake. Above all it was nice to sun-bath by the pools and have an ocassional dip to cool down.
In the evening we boarded a night bus to take us to the Brazilian border.