Published: March 2nd 2012February 27th 2012
Had a very good breakfast including pancakes with maple syrup and freshly-made bread (which makes a change!)
At 10.30am we were collected from our hotel and we all piled into four Toyota land cruisers and were driven 30 minutes down dirt tracks to a little village selling tourist wares and where salt is brought in from the Flats to be dried. We were then given a demonstration of how the salt was dried by some enterprising little kid of about 12 who showed us the process and then blocked the exit with the aid of a spade and would only let people out on the basis of a small payment. Quite entrepreneurial! There was a salt museum with bits made out of salt (a salt llama and other objects/animals which Ed didn't bother to look at. He didn't miss much...... The jeeps then drove on to the start of the flats where there was a memorial to 5 Japanese, 5 Israelis and 3 local Bolivians who died in a coach accident in 2008 .. Not sure how as the expanse of salt is vast and you can see someone coming in the other direction from miles away! At the start
of the salt flats, the jeeps were driving through about two foot of water which gradually, over about 2 miles, reduced to a depth of about 3 inches. We then arrived near what was a collection of huts including a tourist shop and a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. We were both badly in need of the toilet so went into building but the toilets were out of order and there was no other toilet anywhere. We walked around the back of the building as far from people as possible and found a sign outside which said in both Spanish and English "No peeing here". Unfortunately, as there was no other option available to us, neither of us could read it!
One can get very interesting photographs because of the perspective of the white salt but a clever photo is not easy to do. We messed around for ages trying to get a few fun photographs. It was a hot sunny day and as we were at the salt flats which was like snow and reflected the sun, we put on Sun Factor 50 - better be safe than sorry! Lunch was provided by one of the jeep
drivers of chicken and pasta with veggies and avocado and tomato. We then returned across the salt flats which, due to the rainy season, was wetter than usual and then back towards Uyuni and the local train cemetery. It was rather strange. There were abouttwenty trains and a few wagons almost completely rusted away, just sitting at the end of the tracks and some converted into see- saws and swings. Basically, a giant grownup playground which definitely would not have passed health and safety in the UK. We took some photos, had a play and then went back to Uyuni. Nearly everyone met later in the local "fun pub" with some drink involved from a rudely-shaped clay receptacle! Both of us had hamburgers and then we left fairly early and went back to the hotel for coffee. The problem was that we had left most of our Bolivian currency on the bus (which wasn´t accessible) as we needed more funds that we had previously been advised. We tried to pay with single dollar bills which the hotel would not take although the dollar seems to be an acceptable alternative everywhere we have been so far. Quick panic as wouldnt have
The train graveyard
enough for breakfast payment as we had also forgotten that we had to pay for our laundry. In addition, our contribution of about £4 tip to our driver depleted our funds. We then realised they would take Ten dollar notes which we had. After coffee, we chatted to a few others who had also left the pub early and then went to bed.