Arrival in Bolivia

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South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni
April 29th 2007
Published: April 29th 2007
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Arrived safe and sound in Bolivia, and now all set up for a 3 day tour of the Salar de Uyuni starting 10am tomorrow.

My opinion of Bolivia so far... well it´s very different from Argentina. Straight away from the border at La Quaica-Villazon the difference was evident. An explosion of gnarly old women wearing ill-fitting bowler hats and bright ´ethnic´ garb and carrying cute smiley kids on their backs.

Of course that wasn´t quite the first impression. The first impression was being kicked out of the bus on the argentinian side at 6am into a bus terminal full of locals, one of whom seemed to be throwing up everywhere. We huddled together to keep warm (unfortunately a group of unruly israelis decided to huddle up close and then use or rucksacks for a sofa) till the sun rose then made the brief walk over the border with our friendly local from the bus.

The town on the other side was a real dustbowl. However they had a nice little square which the local kids seemed to be having races around, in which i recovered a few lost hours of sleep. Breakfast was an exciting affair. The little kid serving us seemed to be offering us a choice of chicken. We speculatively asked for eggs and cheese and a bit of bread, fearing the worst. But we were to be surprised, he´d even used his initiative to add sliced tomatoes to create a hearty breakfast roll. We ordered some more, and were treated to some improvised dancing from his little kid sister.

The train to Uyuni (2 per week!) fortunately left that day, and we´d got tickets as soon as we'd crossed the border. The journey in the backpacker carraige was long, and a bit hot, and incredibly dusty. We were all told to close the windows on account of the dust coming in (the attendent swept the floors every couple of hours to keep things clean) but it didnt stop my nose being completely bunged up by the time we arrived at 12 midnight. We were treated to our first decent movie on public transport (Maria Full of Grace) and an amazing collection of 80s music videos.

Well Uyuni can only really be described as a dusty hole too. At 3500m and in the intense sunlight of the altiplano, it´s quite tiring just wandering around. Still, it beats working.


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