My last stop on this trip, salar the uyuni. I never thought I would come that far in South America. It feels kind of a bit rushed since I have skipped some places such as north of Peru. Nevertheless, here I am.
I took the overnight bus from La Paz to Uyuni and would head back with an overnight bus again. Apparently, there is nothing to do there anyway and this is the suggestion people give us. Alternatively, some people arrive with the morning plane and then start the tour right away as well.
There were mainly 3 well known agencies doing tours in the salt flat. I took the Quecha Connection since the comments were a little bit better than red planet and the other one whose name I can’t remember.
I arrived around 5 in the morning, got picked up and delivered to a cafe where you can have a hot drink and it is just slightly warmer than the -10 degrees outside. In the cafe, there are some Israelis, I met some British girls, and 3 young Swiss guys, who were playing some board games. They just finished the military service and is travelling with the money they got from it. These 3 guys happen to be in the same group with me afterwards so we headed to the agency.
At the agency, people start to come in. There was a French couple, Evie from England, Zoe from Australia, Steffi from Solothurn and studies in Basel (that makes 5 Swiss guys in the group), an Australian guy with a older peruvian woman dressed in tiger patterned pants. Also there was an Asian girl (forgot her name too but let’s call her Jane) who works in California, another guy (forgot his name, let’s call him Joe) from Australia who knew Zoe from previous group travelling.
I ended up sitting with the Swiss guys in the same car. The tour guide we had is a short or maybe bolivian average height guy. He talks in a way that sounds like he is the best guide, the agency is the best and he has experience some shit and that’s why he is the best. (often when you claim to be the best is suspicious) During the 3 days, you talk to him a bit and find out more about his experience he had in America. He never told us much, but when you kept asking, he said his dad gave him a choice back then whether he wants to stay in Bolivia to join the army or to go to the US. Then he worked in a large hotel (5 star I assume). If that is what you think that makes up substantial experience gain in your life, yes it sort of is, but it is not everything. There is always so much more to see and to experience. And often deep down there, the more important things are not the surface that you can observe, it is the trust that you can build to get to understand how people behave, how people live their lives.
Zoe is 26 and she seemed easy to talk to. Evie is cool, has nice legs but you figure out soon that she is one of the younger ones, just like the Swiss guys. They were trying to make fun of Steffi, but well, their “game” was pretty poor. They made some jokes that Steffi did not understood. And the conversation is then over. The other couples are rather quiet and we did not talk much. And even though I was in the truck with the Swiss guys, I can’t remember whether we talked about much important things ..
The first part of the trip was a train graveyard where old trains were abandoned which delivered salt and other minerals (I think the silver mine down there is one of the biggest in the world). I saw some guys climbing the locomotive and one guy in the end slipped and fell to the ground. With his head down. I heard clearly how his neck cracked and some people hurried to check whether he is conscious. I felt like that guy just died since he collapsed when he hit the ground so I hurried to the hut to get the guides. As it turns out, the guys were just drunk and people chased them home …
Drinking in Bolivia is actually a problem. It might be due to the high altitude and thus cold weather, according to the guide. But of course, there are parts of Bolivia which is not cold. Such as Santa Cruz. Economics is going well over there, but I did not have time to make it over there.
Another story was actually the hot bath from the volcano heated underground water. People bought some wines in the town we were and being able to open a bottle became a challenge. One of the swiss guys managed to do that and became the “hero”. Then the conversation went on much smoother somehow and people started to get interested to ask questions about what they do and so on. Maybe it was the lack of alcohol, or it was lack of the warm water before, but I had the feeling, in general, people would only be nicer to you when they some benefit, or when they had some benefit from you … Is that the correct thing to do? Thinking selfishly, it is … but shouldn’t we just be nice to everyone upfront without prejudice? But often, when we see someone, in the first 5-10 seconds we already made a picture in our mind imagining whether this guy is weird or not …
So that actually concluded my 168 days of travel. I made my way back home via La Paz, a flight stopping in Cuzco to Lima, from Lima to Bogota and from Bogota via Madrid back in Zurich. Billy and some other friends surprised me with an arrival welcome when I landed. So we gotta visit them in Helsinki over the NYE.
That was it … Me, wanting to finish the trip to write more stuff about what have happened in the mean while. I remember someone said once, when you write diaries, if it is meant to be seen, then, you are not writing them for yourself, you are writing for those who you want them to read … In the beginning I really tried to write what I think, but I realized some things still do affect how you phrase words. Sometimes, even I would be a bit more angry about some things, I would not write it in that way … So just to be clear. The next posts are supposed to be read, by someone, but I just don’t know when it is the right time to say that … and it would also help me to sooth my nervous mind a little bit …