Jess here! I have been tasked with the daunting job of documenting our three day trip to the southwest corner of Bolivia - the magnificent salt flats, colored lagoons, erupting volcanoes, deep canyons made of metamorphic rock, flamingoes, llamas, christian easy listening, and drunk park wardens.
The scenery I think is better conveyed through photos, but I will share a couple humourous anecdotes of our voyage.
We took the "princess express" to Uyuni - as in, we flew. The other alternative was a 12 hour overnight bus in subzero temperatures. Cheaper, yes. But definitely a waste of time and definitely not safe. So we forked over the $150 and enjoyed a pleasant 45 minute flight into the ghost town of Uyuni.
We visited 3 tour operators to decide which one to use. We ruled out one because she seemed slimy and had gold stars implanted in her teeth and wanted us to leave our backpacks behind with her. The second we ruled out because when we asked him if his driver was responsible (there have been reports of lots of drunk drivers in the area) the tour agent shrugged and said his driver 'Le gusta
divertido!' or in other words 'Likes to have fun!!!'. Wrong answer. I thought Mike was going to herniate, so we quickly left.
The operator we went with was refreshingly honest. "It will be fucking cold" she said of the second night in the desert. This was exactly as we heard. "Yes we have a problem with drunk drivers - but yours is Illacio, and he is an Evangelical Christian." Sold.
The next morning the Great Illacio showed up an hour late and we were sadly torn from our wonderful salt palace and its Britney Spears loving manager ('Oh mah gawd you saw her in concert?! Shut up! I love her! Do you love Madonna too?' - it was true love and Mike was left by the wayside)
Illacio was indeed Evangelical. We immediately confirmed this as he played his homemade CD of evangelical easy listening on repeat, and one song in particular about 'the heart of the children' 'salvation, hallelujah!' and 'repent, repent, repent!'. I envied Mike and our 4 Irish carmates who spoke not a word of Spanish. The whole ride I imagined my father laughing at me, saying something about 'God will finally find you!'.
I don't know if I was found but I was definitely hiding under the floorboards as God conducted his search of the neighborhood.
The first stop was on the salt flats, where you can take immensly clever photos due to the lack of perspective as the land is flat as far as the eye can see. I realized that Saskatchewan could make a tremendous business out of this and intend to forward along to the provincial head of tourism the terd photos our Irish friends carefully constructed - one person close to the camera squats as if relieving himself and his girlfriend gamely takes her place in the horizon, arms above her head, to resemble the fruits of his relief. It's big business!
That was the big stop for the day, and after a brief stop at the 'Island of Fish' we headed to our 'Salt Hotel'. We saw a rather nice building on the way to our destination and foolishly hoped that was our lodgings. To our horror we continued up the hill to a dilapitated shack intended to shelter us all. We literally cried out in dismay and made nervous jokes about the Ritz Carleton as
we pulled up to the hovel (by that point we had confirmed that the driver did not speak a word of English-this was confirmed as we excercised our right to plug in our ipods to the stereo system and he brayed like a dog along to our English language music, not understanding a word). Luckily apprarances were deceiving and the lodgings far exceeded our expectations for the evening.
That was last Monday. More to come on Tuesday - Wednesday - I plan to break them into individual entries -stay tuned!
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