Salt flattin and stuff
Trip Start Sep 01, 2007
96Trip End Sep 10, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
first we went to the train graveyard. this is just a scrap heap, but makes the whole ghost town thing come to life. then on to cochani, where the people sweep up the salt, dry it, and refine it with iodine for the table. you can buy anything you might want made of salt.
then we went to the salt flat itself. the rain water and spring water mix with the crystals and they grow very rapidly. the salt is nearly 15 meters thick according to vico at some points. but then he also tells us that the salt was created when noahīs ark was floating and the sea mixed with all the water on the earth
on we go. the flats are amazing. extremely white. very flat. devoid of all depth perception except for the honeycomb hexagonal designs you can see but not really capture in photos. the lack of depth perception allows for some hysterical photos. and it should allow for speed, right? noooo. you see, vico is a very responsible man. both hands on the wheel, reasonable speed, etc. does he have his eyes closed? hmmm.
we arrive at an island of rock in the center of the flats called isla de pescado. there are no fish here so i donīt know why. there are thousands of saguaro cactus though. and coral like growths on the rocks.
we stay the night in a salt hotel on the edge of the salar. really. a hotel made out of salt blocks with salt on the floor. pretty neat. unfortunately, the other groups that stayed there are on the party rampage. finally, at 130 in the morning, i remind them that we have no doors and that i can hear their ever increasing voices over the ever increasing music (yes they brought the ipod and the speakers) even with ear plugs in
we carry on south towards the high deserts of the atacama. the land is sparse of vegetation but we see wildlife just the same. vicuņas must eat something but i donīt know what. we also see some vizcachas, chinchilla like things, and more llamas. there is a lichen here called llareta that the people burn for heat. the wind sculpts the rock formations into great climbing Torres.
we sleep at 4300 meters (sort of, different groups on the same bender kept us up) at laguna colorado (red) and get an early start at 0500. we go to some geysers where there is boiling mud and pools of different colors
i ask vico and he says the custom is to bury the dead with a cross. so what are these people doing out of the ground, clearly beheaded?????? gulp.
on the way, we continue to have car troubles. vico fixes them and we arrive safely, but very dirty and dusty, with everyone coughing.
we head out to the local pizza place called minuteman. it is run by a guy from boston and is like the mooseīs tooth. really good pizza too.
then, as if getting up at 430 and driving around all day wasnīt enough, we get on a train at 3 am and ride it to villazon. it arrives, several hours late at 430 pm after heading through canyons, badlands, and high flats. we even saw snow (where the train stopped because it was slipping on the tracks!!!) the train stopped alot actually and the men would get out and shovel dirt off the tracks. occasionally, the whole train would tilt sideways on the tracks.
eventually, slow as molasses, we pulled into villazon where we crossed the border into argentina.