there I was, walking the railways at last, hoping for a train with empty wagons to roll past for me to jump on and meet Dean Moriarty . Just to sit back, chew some coca leaves and chill all the way to somewhere. Sadly this dream failed on two levels. Firstly, he is a fictional character ( or possibly not) and secondly there was no train.
It could be argued that walking along railway tracks is a dangerous hobby and not to be encouraged. Luckily on this particular line, there are only two trains a week and one was the day before. The only danger is that in South America the next train could be the day after. In fact our biggest danger was sunstroke and the circling eagles. I kid ye not. When walking here, you will often be sized up by eagles or condors to see if you are prey. They will come within 20 ft, circling above, considering if it will be worth attacking. For situations like this, I usually carry a small puppy or kitten to offer as a suitable replacement.
The railway line started at the railway station - quite a revelation I have
to admit. We found it and struck out at a fresh pace in the general direction of away. This took us through a local Sunday morning market which had all the verve, colours, noise and smells of markets we have experienced on our travels. This one had one item we had not seen before - bamboo shoots, about 10ft long. Why, I know not. It is possible that there is a hidden tribe of pandas nearby who terrorise locals into supplying them with food. I have to admit that at one point I did think that I caught a glance of one, but that may have been down to the coca leaves ( was actually a pig).
At the market, W and I drew several curious stares. We were the only non-locals, and we could not have looked any more like gringos even if we had gringo tattooed across our foreheads and wore capes saying gringo !!! Secretly I put it down to W being Welsh, but was too afraid to say. If the locals had found that out, then we may have been attacked or worse !! For situations like that, I usually carry a small puppy or
kitten as a suitable replacement.
We followed the rails for several miles. Risking life and limb as we delicately crossed aged and worn wooden bridged that stretched over gulleys and gorges of at least 3 or 4 feet. There is no end to our sense of adventure !!!
After we had seen our fill of amazing scenery, wildlife ( llamas are pretty damned wild if you turn their radio off) and lazily watching the farmers hard at work in the fields, we decided to head back. This led to a huge problem dear readers. We had walked for several miles in a baking sun and had no way of knowing how to get back to town !!! A dilemma akin to deciding whether to buy a mars bar or a marathon. I sat down on a rock and turned my famed intellect to trying to come up with a solution. After three hours I glanced at a railway track in front of me. " I wonder" I mused, " if we were to walk the tracks in the opposite direction that we had been going, and with a favourable wind, it may lead us somewhere I could ask
somebody if they had a map of the local area ". genius . As it turned out, the tracks led us all the way back to town, where I drank beer.
ps this blog should not have been written today as we were supposed to be travelling to Salar de Uyuni, but due circumstances beyond our control, this has been delayed until Tuesday.
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