The Southwestern Circuit

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August 31st 2007
Published: August 31st 2007
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Our LandcruiserOur LandcruiserOur Landcruiser

Salar de Uyuni
I don’t have anything clever to say, or any worldviews to relate at this time. I am way too tired to act intelligent. So I’m just going to put the last few days into words the best I can.

Our second day in La Paz was spent getting acclimated, booking our trip to the South, and site seeing. It was a good chill-out day, the last we’d have for a while.
That night we went to dinner at El Arriero, an excellent Argentinean steakhouse. For around $30 US we both had pan-fried provolone, beef neck, bread with this amazing vinegar bean spread, huge filets, a couple beers, and after dinner drinks. Incredible food.
We got back to the room at around 8:00 and debated going out. The altitude was making us lazy. Finally we decided that nothing fun was going to find us in our room and we ventured out (not to return until 5:00am).

We hit Oliver’s Travels (the 5th best bar in La Paz according to the piss-drunk Irish owner). There were only the two of us and the British and Israeli bartenders to start with. Then Ollie showed up and began bitching his employees out for not have any customers and insulting us. As the night went on we found out this is not uncommon. As soon as other people starting showing up he berated them for their clothes, accents, musical tastes…whatever he saw fit. It was entertaining in the way Dick’s Last Resort is.
We stayed there getting pretty trashed (drinking like you’re in San Francisco at 13,000ft is a little dangerous) with these Brits, until our lovely bartender told us of an after-hours place. We got in a cab and told the cabbie the name of the place. He knew right where to go. When the cab stopped we were in front of a dark alleyway. “That’s it,” he said (at least that’s what I think he said in Spanish). We walked into the darkness (I KNOW! NOT SMART!)…leading the way by my camera light. We finally came to a door that Billy banged on for a minute or so before a man opened up and said “Bienvenidos!”…and that’s when we walked into something straight out of a certain Johnny Depp movie…and that’s where that story is gonna have to end for now.

The next few days were spent in the ‘Southwestern Circuit”.

Weird to see these here, but they are everywhere around the lagoons. They feed off the minerals.
It took us about 12 hours on the night bus from La Paz to Uyuni. Uyuni is the base from which the hundreds of Land Cruisers journey into the nothingness of the Southern Bolivia. The town reminds me of something out of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, or for those of you who aren’t familiar with the books, the end of the world. There is nothing to do there beside visit the train graveyard, which should take you a whole 10 minutes.

We jumped in the Land Cruiser with our driver, Eddi, our cook, Merisel, and 3 Bolivian and 1 German tourist (who were all together). Good thing Billy was with me, because nobody else spoke much English; Eddi spoke none. I will let the pictures for the first few days speak for themselves…a bunch of lagoons, volcanoes, and some of the harshest terrain that exists on planet Earth. There were really no actual roads, but somehow Eddi knew where to turn and where to go to get us where we were going.

The first night we slept in the middle of nowhere in a dorm style structure. There were no other building within hundreds of
Wild Fox PupWild Fox PupWild Fox Pup

Southwestern Circuit
miles. We were at around 15-16,000 ft. and it was beyond freezing…I am going to guess -10 or so with the wind. It was so cold, and I was so hungry I scarfed down 3 bowls of vegetable soup barely taking time to breath in between bites. Then I proceeded to put on every piece of clothing I brought with me and climbed into my sleeping bag. There were 6 of us in the room that night and all of us had insanely vivid nightmares. Billy barely slept, the girl sleeping next to me woke up screaming. It was probably because of the altitude, but I think it’s more interesting to believe that the structure was haunted by the ghosts from the burial ground it was built on. Even though that’s unlikely, since I don’t think anything actually lives or has ever lived out there…not even insects. I didn’t see one bug.

The next night we slept in a hotel made of salt. The walls, the beds, the tables and chairs; everything was salt. It was much warmer and much more comfortable.

Our last day was worth the other days (I have to admit Wednesday was a day
Kevin Burning Foot at Geyser BasinKevin Burning Foot at Geyser BasinKevin Burning Foot at Geyser Basin

Sol de Manana Geyser Basin
I could’ve done without). The last day was the Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. I really had no clue salt could be so cool. There is no way to describe the sensation of driving across miles and miles of pure while salt. At one point it looked like the ground was moving under us instead of the car moving over the ground. You drive toward a mountain in the distance for hours without getting any closer. I know this has been said a million times to explain these flats, but it does feel like you’re on the moon. Definitely in the top 5 things I have seen in my life. Right there with Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro, and Angelina Jolie in the first half of Gia. It is also a perfect place to lose your mind. At one point I wandered off into the flats and imagined that I had been left out there…my own thoughts started to scare me in less that 5 seconds. If you ever get the chance, listen to The Knife’s ‘Silent Shout’ album while driving through Salar de Uyuni, I’m pretty sure that’s what it was made for.
Geyser BasinGeyser BasinGeyser Basin

Sol de Manana Geyser Basin

Anyway, I know I just wrote a whole lot of words without saying a whole lot of anything. For that I apologize…I just got out of my first shower in days and am just gradually getting myself together again.

That’s all for now…


Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 25


Freezing Dorm LivingFreezing Dorm Living
Freezing Dorm Living

Southwest Circuit,the morning after the first night. 15,000 feet...around -10 degrees at night.
Dorm Living at -10 degreesDorm Living at -10 degrees
Dorm Living at -10 degrees

Going to bed wearing everything I packed
Stone TreeStone Tree
Stone Tree

Siloli Desert
Volcan LicancaburVolcan Licancabur
Volcan Licancabur

From my understanding this volcanoe is actualy in Chile...we were right at the border.
Salt HotelSalt Hotel
Salt Hotel

Hotel de Sal, near Salar de Uyuni
Sunrise over Salar de UyuniSunrise over Salar de Uyuni
Sunrise over Salar de Uyuni

Sunrise over Salar de Uyuni
Kevin Salar de UyuniKevin Salar de Uyuni
Kevin Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni
Uyuni Travel GroupUyuni Travel Group
Uyuni Travel Group

Uyuni Travel Group
Kevin in Deep ThoughtKevin in Deep Thought
Kevin in Deep Thought

about what I would do for a Balazos burrito
Being ArtsyBeing Artsy
Being Artsy

Salar de Uyuni
Billy earning beer moneyBilly earning beer money
Billy earning beer money

Working the salt flats.
Hide Your KidsHide Your Kids
Hide Your Kids

If this bus doesn´t leave on time...I´m letting go!!!
Train GraveyardTrain Graveyard
Train Graveyard

Hanging with Blaine in the Wastelands

31st August 2007

Keep on writing i feel like i'm there with you take care Lee x
31st August 2007

top 5 things
Obviously, I need to see Gia.
1st September 2007

Did Blaine try to speak to you in his best John Wayne? I'm sure you had a riddle or two to break free. . . Be safe, and be a good export!
1st September 2007

you guys look like you're having fun! "hey there Billy, whats it like it Bolivia?"
2nd September 2007

How totally cool, please write more. Really enjoyed reading this, seriously more when you can please..... ;-)
4th September 2007

laffter is right
I am not sure why but I have been laughing for the last ten minutes, great pictures, and the words worked too! welcome back, p.s. love the Sylvester and Tweetie Bird blanket..

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