Following the Dakar Rally Part 3: Walking on water...Sunset over the Salar.
In the legend Volcan Thunupa began to cry white milky tears that flooded the plain and formed the Uyuni salt flats when they dried.
That was eons ago.
Thunupa was laughing as we awoke at 7 a.m...laughing so hard its tears were falling as rain...lightning flashing around us...our ascent of Thunupa looking particularly bleak.
Then as we climbed, the volcano emerges through the clouds...the Salar glistening as a mirror...angry grey clouds having dumped their own tears as rain...filling the Salar like a Venus fly trap enticing flies.
Like flies we were drawn to it as dusk fell...a light show like no other...four sunsets and lightning exploding simultaneously over the flooded Salar.
If there is anything that would draw us back to Bolivia...gotta be that.
After descending the volcano I couldn't stop shaking my head...probably creasing my brow in the wonder of it.
Seven mummies in a cave on the side of the volcano...then two more in a cave in someone's backyard. Not a cloud in sight...the afternoon sun at just the right angle...Volcan Thunupa as clear as
can be...gotta be the prettiest mountain I've ever seen.
But Geneth and Valerio with twinkles in their eyes...in hindsight I reckon they thinking we have seen nothing yet. Ask us if we want to go down to the salt lake...or back to the hotel.
So we went to the water's edge...what do you reckon? We'll rest when we have to...as always let's get into it.
There was a gravel ramp into the flooded salt flat and Valerio drove about 100 metres into the lake on that. This must be where vehicles enter the salt flats when it's dry season. But only the foolhardy try crossing the lake when it's wet. Stories of those that risk driving into the deeper water and wrecking their electrics...caused problems for some in the Dakar Rally. Who's crazy idea was it to make it a Dakar race track? This vehicle is Valerio's...he's not risking that. We stop on a gravel island just wide enough for the vehicle and us. Looking back I could see the track snaking back but the water had reclaimed the section behind us and in front...water all around. What next? So we got out.
The water around
us was about 30cms (12 inches) or more deep...boulders with salty crowns...chocolate caramel salt-striped scum on the surface swirling around...the salt lake itself a vivid mirror blue.
Geneth took off her boots and headed into the water with Denise...following the submerged track...water above their ankles.
So I grabbed my monopod out of the vehicle and followed their progress with Denise's little camera mounted on that.
I'd bought the monopod and Denise's little camera for this trip...and considering my 18-200mm lens had packed it in in Peru, Denise's camera had been a saviour. The monopod had already paid for itself in the polar vortex conditions in Utah and Arizona and was the only way we scored a Photography Tour of Antelope Canyon where tripods were required.
As dusk fell my monopod became my friend and lover...'cause the most amazing sunset I have ever seen enveloped us as we stood ...no-one else for miles...just us...100 metres into the flooded Uyuni Salar.
As I look back to land there is the volcano shimmering in it's bright orange blouse...olive green checkered skirt.
Turning to my right over about 200 degrees there are four sunsets in quadrents over the
flooded Salar sneaking out...each bursting like a garden of neon delights.
One was over the eastern shore in light yellows and pinks blossoming into oranges, purples and reds.
To the south east clouds mushrooming greys then blues with streaks of browns, tans and golds.
To the south west like mixing coloured clays, shaking wet hands and reaching for more clays.
The western shore wrapping round the lake with pencils of peninsulars sloping down...the sun behind a band of clouds breaking through...then hiding again...broad strokes of blacks, browns, greys and gold...canvases flooded with gold then cleaned again.
Each canvas of vivid colour reflected in the flooded Salar...striped if the breeze blew...dappled if no breeze but salt showing through...bouncing the colours back as it only knew.
As darkness fell the colours became more intense. Oranges became tamarillos, pinks became reds, grey blues to royal, yellows to golds, browns and black...lightning now flashing through the clouds to the south.
Pretty obvious I was in Photography Heaven. Can only imagine what I could have captured with my big fat lens if operational? But with the monopod Denise's 50mm camera with minimal zoom did just fine.
what about Denise? you ask. She was fine. After all she had her best friend with her...her skinny iphone!!!
And her iphone did just fine. To prove it the last page of photos with this blog are Denise's...just some of them...from her other boyfriend...her skinny iphone!!!
Geneth and Valerio were also wrapped. On tours they don't get to stay down here so late as with groups everyone has different needs and they'd have been back at the hotel hours ago.
Darkness descended and we didn't want to go.
But as we are the only guests at the hotel...no other tourists around...the sun below the horizon...the birds in their roosts resting...time to head to dinner...'cause the rest of the Salar says it's time to head to bed.
What a day. Hope the photos come out. Otherwise how else can I share?
Too good to keep to myself...images too good to not let out of my head.
Relax & Enjoy,
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