Altitude!

Trip Start Jul 19, 2010
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Trip End Aug 13, 2010


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jeeeez, today must've been stressful for Soledad. We were supposed to take a bus then train to Uyuni but there were strikes and protests going on that completely blocked the streets, preventing all journeys/access... so we had to take a detour up to Potosi (highest city in the world!) then back down to Uyuni. At one point we all doubted whether or not we would make it to the beautiful Salt Flats...

Driving through La Paz was absolutely crazy, no way to describe it to people who haven't been there. Just imagine a road which is meant to fit three cars, then imagine that road with 6 lanes of not only cars, but big vans stacked with products on the roofs trying to weave in and out, with chicken feathers flying and Native women, with children on their backs and tall hats, dodging the traffic and risking their lives, then throw in some beeps and horns and you are close. There are no road markers at all so all the vans/cars are just weaving their way through- was one of the most mental things I have ever witnessed, feared for everyone's lives. No idea where these Bolivian women were running to, or why they were in such a rush but I would have not been able to cope and I'd hate to drive here, so many horns beeping and near crashes.

This was a 4 hour drive and I sat next to Lauren (medic at Leeds Uni,) who later turns out to be my roomie for the majority of the trip :) We arrived at the bus station and took another long bus journey 6 hours to Potosi. In Bolivia, and South America for that matter, these journeys are considered short, and these places are considered close. However, for an English girl living in developed countries where we can take a quick plane journey under an hour and land in a different country, these journeys were long. However, they were quite easy to get used to, and we just chatted away or read books.

On arrival at Potosi, the highest City in the world, Man, did I feet the altitude. Altitude sickness completely hit me- my head felt like it was going to explode and I felt like I needed to throw up any minute.  The past 3 days I have also lost my appetite- all I've eaten is one twix!!! Anyone that knows me well, would not be able to believe that. This is the girl that used to eat at least one twix every hour! Well, maybe not that much, but lets face it, I like my food. I've been called Pudding from birth. ANYWAY, at Potosi bus station people ate burgers etc (most had travelled from Peru and so had time to acclimatise to the high altitude) but my tummy just wasn't feeling it, then we took a private bus to Uyuni which took 8 hours so we arrived at 3 am and it was FREEZING. I cannot describe it, freezing! Uyuni had a blackout because of the strong winds so there was no electricity.


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