Your Eyes are Bigger than Your Stomach
Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
28Trip End May 06, 2009
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The twelve hour bus ride (ridiculously bumpy the entire time) saw me stripping off clothes in the first four hours and then putting on layer upon llama sweater layer and cursing the fact that no one told me how cold it would be and that I was only wearing flipflops. Needless to say, I may have dozed off to sleep for a total of half an hour in between sweating to death and wondering if my toes were going to be frost bitten and fall off. Getting off the bus before 7am this morning was horrific. Nearly everyone gasped at the cold and were hurrying to get their bags and pile on more layers (or shoes and socks, in my case!!!).
Let me just say this again: I did. not. pack properly for this trip. Luckily, they assume that and you can buy everything Llama-made and warm. Like legwarmers! Which I bought this afternoon at the market along with some gorgeous peacock earrings (way better than those other ones Tammy!)- hurrah.
I am here to see the Salar de Uyuni, the salt flats. Unfortunately, seeing as I want to go into Chile from here, I have to take a three day tour. Which makes me sad because at least half of that time is spent doing and seeing things I really could care less about. Alas, I am sure it will be spectacular nonetheless.
Which means that I will be leaving Bolivia relatively soon. I am very sad about that, this is a beautiful country with friendly people. I have felt nothing but comfortable and welcome here (even when more than one person has stopped me to make sure I realize I am in a third world country and that there are bad people here to which I replied "yes, but there are bad people where I come from too."). But if I ever hope to make it to Buenos Aires for my flight, I need to keep moving. Transportation here has been severely lacking and everything takes a lot longer than you a) expect it to and b) they tell you to. So, just incase it is the same in Chile and Argentina, I have to keep trekking!
There is nothing in Uyuni, as I said. So I spent the day walking very slowly from one food stall to the next with a break for a very long cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and my book. It is particularily bad when the town you are in is walkable in about seven minutes and there is nothing to do or see in or around it. I just end up eating. Potato cheese patties, fruit shakes, apples, nuts, more potato patties with spicyspicy! sauce.....the list is shamefully long. (Apparently I am trying to put back on all the weight I lost last year!)
Which brings me to: I am (sorely) going to miss the food here (South America in general, probably). It is an entire way of eating; out in the road, in the open, under the blazing sun. Going over here to grab a chunk of chicken for 2Bs (maybe 15cents), then over there for a cheese filled potato patty topped with veggies and spicyspicy sauce. Trying to remember, as you eat all of this with your bare hands and for some reason that makes it taste even better, not to rub your eyes afterwards because that spicy sauce lingers and burns for hours afterwards!
I love that you can be fed - and well! - for under $5 and that everything is available to you on the street. You see something you like, or smell something you like, just head on over and take a seat. I love being the only foreigner at a table full of wrinkly, brown faces while we all bend over our heaping plates (of chicken, rice, salad, fries, spicyspicy! sauce, fried bananas), grunting at each other with satisfaction when we are done. Possibly turning our eyes towards the tiny television (that I always wonder how they plug in because we are, afterall, on the street) to watch some overly Dramatic soap opera in spanish while sipping our juice (which is basically a round fruit-like thing that sort of looks like the pit of something with water added to it and it is pleasantly cinnamon like and yet not....yum!) and digesting our meal.
There is something to be said for sipping your fruit shake while inhaling diesel fuel from the busy road in front of you. No, not pleasant but so different it makes it exciting. Almost like you are doing something naughty and totally getting away with it. You can buy avocado and tomato sandwiches for ten cents from the traditionally dressed owner of these little box-stores located on the streets (they are always there and they come, unlock them, and open them up where you can buy anything from bottles of water, candy, shampoo to sandwiches and pastries) when you are sick of deep fried chicken - which they LOVE here, unfortunately.
It looks like I will be eating llama afterall. My trip to the salt flats includes all food and, I was told, that one night we will be having llama. Okay then. I am up for a change in pace....the guide tells me it is delicious AND nutricious. We will see about that.
There is a snack here called "salchipapas" which I have yet to try because each time I look at it it turns my stomach. And when I DO want to eat it (after the club), they are never to be found. Basically, it is deep fried potatoes (like thick fries) with fried hotdogs on top and a bunch of indescribable sauce poured on top. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you will get boiled eggs on the side. They love it here but seeing as my body is fighting off scurvy on a 24hr basis, I am usually in desperate search of vegetables and not more deep fried foods.
I love that this entry was all about food. Hilarious. Reminds me of my friend Kate who wrote once in her diary (with a Liverpudlian accent) when she was little: "I luv me mum, I luv me dad, I luv fooooooooooooooood!" (Just for you, KatieMackay.)
I, too, love fooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood.
The next time I write, will be (not sure when) from Chile! Oh Bolivia, I will miss you.