The Squeaky American

Published: January 23rd 2016
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One more day till Buenos Aires, yay! Well…hopefully. I made a semi-stupid mistake. Just lack of planning, really. I assumed that there would be a boat load of flights from huge international airport, La Paz and huge international airport, Buenos Aires. This just in: there isn’t. Not past 8am at least.

I should’ve done Death Road and Salar de Uyuni back to back as soon as I arrived in La Paz like I originally planned. But no, I got suckered into exploring the “beautiful” city, La Paz, for a day with the girls. Now, the only relatively short flight (seven hours total) leaves at 8am. This would normally be fine, but I supposedly get back from my Salar de Uyuni tour at 7am. This leaves me exactly one hour to get to the airport before the flight takes off. But wait, there’s more! Both Loki staff agreed that, yes, it was a risk, but when they went their arrival buses between 4:30am — 5am. Plus, the tour guide company said, normally, the buses get back at 6:30am the latest. I hope they are right. So, with the risk taker that I am — I booked it with fingers
crossed tight. I just keep saying the affirmations Pacha Mama taught me, “Everything is good. Everything will be okay. Everything will work out,” over and over in my head.

If it doesn’t, the next available flight isn’t until 10:30pm, super expensive, and it wouldn’t get to Buenos Aires until the following night. Seventeen hours later. Ugh…

I said my goodbyes to the girls. It was a rushed goodbye, because we all thought we were going to miss our buses. (Traffic in La Paz might just be worse than Los Angeles. There are stop lights. No one uses them.) We rode through the night to Uyuni on “full cama” busses (full-bed busses for you pathetic English speakers.) Those things are awesome. Even though they laid down fully, I still couldn’t sleep though. I’m just really anxious about the flight.

As soon as I fell asleep, about an hour later, the bus driver woke the lot of us up to inform us that there is a strike happening outside, it was still dark outside. The protesters have blocked the road with boulders. Not only do we have to get out of the bus and grab our things, we also had to walk “five minutes” to our perspective tour guides’ office. Mine was Red Planet.

Five minutes, my white-ass. More like a 20-30 minute trek! All I kept thinking was, “this shit would never happen in the states. The lawsuits would be flowing. Oh well, I guess it was one way to catch the sunrise.

Once we arrived, I immediately began to ask Red Planet about an earlier bus transfer back to La Paz. “There is no such bus.” They said to me, confidently. Momma always taught me the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I’m an American, dammit, and we don’t take “no” for an answer. I told the staff at Red Planet to write down, in Spanish, what I need to ask the bus station to see if:

A. My original bus would get there on time?

B. If there as an earlier bus leaving tonight?

I had a few hours to kill anyway before the tour, so I marched my butt to the station and proudly showed them the note. Though lots of body language, they communicated to me that there was, in fact, a bus leaving tonight at 7pm and to be there by 6:30 to get on. Ah-ha! I had them write it down in Spanish, so I could verify in English with Red Planet. Anyway, long story short — through lots of problem solving and back and fourth, I would get back to La Paz with time to spare! Now, I can finally relax and enjoy my last tour flying solo.


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