What a Blast
Jude gets herself a new geyser.
Our third and final day on the salt plain tour began well before dawn even broke, at 4.30am. By 5am we were all shivering in the jeep owing to the near -10 degree temperature hanging in the air. After about half an hour, we stopped by a series of geysers and thermal vents where we could hear the steam hissing violently from the ground although seeing it was another matter entirely - it was darker than Tim Burton movie out there!
On we drove until we reached a little hut by a lake. This was why we had got up so early - to be at the thermal pools at sunrise - and boy, was it worthwhile. While I seriously debated the wisdom of getting into my swimgear in freezing temperatures, everyone else bit the bullet and went for a dip. The looks of joy on everyon's faces coupled with the intense volume of steam rising off the thermal pool's surface convinced me to join the madness. It was bliss. The water couldn't have been more than about 30 degrees but it was the warmest any of us had been since arriving in Uyuni and it was a godsend.
A very active geyser - shame it was too dark to really see much.
We got to enjoy the water all by ourselves for 20 minutes before the next tour group arrived and spoiled our fun. That said though, we were the only ones there for sunrise and it was possibly the most memorable dawn of my life.
While getting changed to get into the pool had been a challenge in the cold, trying to dry off and get dressed afterwards was awful. I don't think I've ever felt so cold. Still it provided for some amusing moments later when we took our washing of the line to find it was all frozen solid! After a pretty pthetic breakfast and warming cup of tea (yes, I drink tea now!), we made our way through the desert ot our last stop before our fantastic little group disbanded - the Bolivian/Chilean/Argentinian three-way border crossing. Katie and Dougal were due to be dropped off here but when we arrived, they almost reluctantly got out of the jeep. You see, the border crossing really was nothing more than a couple of huts quite literally in the middle of nowhere. For miles there was nothing but dust and desert in every direction and I know I certainly wouldn't
Sun and Steam
Glynn gets steamy at the thermal pools and it´s only 5am!
have wanted to be left here without some form of guarantee that my onward bus was going to turn up before I died of despair and dehydration. Luckily, the bus arrived early and we sadly said our goodbyes.
With just the four of us and the driver left in the jeep, we began the arduous 9-hour return journey to Uyuni. With only two stops on the way to check out some more rock formations and eat lunch, it was a scenically beautiful but otherwise dull ride. Most of the journey was on really rough road too and we all breathed in enough rockdust but the end to build our own set of mini-pyramids. We amused ourselves with a lengthy game of movie-themed hangman that helped pass the time until we found ourselves back by the train cemetary at sunset and outside the Sol de Manana office just after 6.30pm. It was an extremely long and, thermal pool excepted, pointless day. The dust in our lungs left us feeling sick on top of the continuing diahorrea and dysentry and we were all glad to get out of the jeep at last.
Katrina and Stephanie followed our lead and booked
It really was as warm as it looks here but boy was it cold when we got out! L-R: Jude, Glynn, Katie, Dougal, Stephanie and Katrina.
into the basic Hotel Avenida for the night. It felt great to have a shower and 24-hour access to a toilet as both Glynn and I were feeling really rough once again. We debated whether to stay in Uyuni for another day as we were so ill but the prospect of staying in this cold, dusty and overpriced town was unbearable and we needed to be somewhere we could trust the food again. We wandered down to the bus company offices and booked ourselves on a 6am departure for Tupiza, leaving us only a little time to grab something to eat (I was sick immediately after so that was a waste of money) and get packed. How we managed the 8-hour journey the next morning is anyone's guess as we were both incredibly ill now and there was no toilet on board either of the two buses we had to catch. It's a wonder we could even manage to carry our luggage but thankfully the Hotel Mitru we had earmarked in Tupiza was only a couple of blocks away. We checked in and literally dropped out, collapsing on our beds for a long, deep sleep, grateful to finally be in
Dawn over the thermal lake and river.
a warmer climate with comfortable beds and a toilet again. Let's hope we can finally beat the sickness out of our system while we here.
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