Don't worry, it was perfectly safe...After two days in Potosi, we headed to Uyuni on the border of salar where the infamous salt flats are. Basically a natural phenomenon where goofy pictures can be taken. The one night we were in Uyuni we froze our butts off, but we were still in a proper town despite the lack of heaters.
We went to a really great pizza place owned by a man from Chicago and then to a bar called extreme fun where they put their drinks in various inappropriately shaped mugs...the next day, on our way into the desert, we stopped and took some pictures in the train grave yard.
Then we were on our way. We stopped at the piles of salt to take some more pictures and then headed to the "isla de pescado", it is a fish shaped island completely covered in cacti which stands out in the huge white desert.
More photo ops. were had before lunch and then after lunch we took our goofy pictures in the salt flats, by this time I was ready to move on.
That night we slept in a salt hotel that had salt pillars in it. Freeeezing. The next day, we drove through the desert once again.
We saw some pretty amazing scenery (volcanoes and variously coloured lakes) in the two and a half days we spent out in no-man's land. If you can get passed the cold and the lack of plumbing anywhere, it really is quite beautiful.
Quite a few of the people on our trip at this point were sick. I felt so bad that they had to be so far from modern day comforts including poor Lisa who had a miserable cold. We were all very happy to leave the desert and cross over the Bolivian order into Chile. Bolivia is a strange and beautiful country, in my opinion. Somehow, I felt a little ill-at-ease in it, but Chile is different. We spent two nights in San Pedro, the little border town which is full of tourists. The day we had to do activities, a few of us went to "Valle de la luna". It truly does look like another planet. There are sand dunes and crazy rock formations including salt caves. We climbed up a big dune to watch the sunset. (Not easy when still at high altitude, but totally worth it, especially afterwords when we got to run back down the dune.) After San Pedro, we caught a night bus to La Serena, a town on the ocean. The bus was 16 hours. I am not a fan of night buses and usually can't sleep in them so I was exhausted when we finally got there, but I managed to get a few winks in. The big highlight for us in La Serena was, unfortunately, the mall. At hearing the words "food court", I forgot about my overwhelming urge to nap, threw on a coat and heading to the mall. KFC was very welcome! The next two days in La Serena, we didn't do much beyond hang out in the mall. We had a couple of walks around the city, which was very pretty, and we also went to an Artisan's market where we bought some home-made chocolate. After La Serena, it was only a 7 hour bus ride to get to Santiago. Not much to say about Santiago yet. I didn't get a chance to really explore the city myself, but Lisa checked out some really interesting museums. We'll talk more about it when we get back there. For now, we hopped on a bus, after saying good-bye to our GAP group, and headed to Valparaiso. So far, seems like an amazing city by the sea. Interesting architecture and wonderful colours everywhere. I also took note of the many restaurants on the way to the hostel that looked delicious. It was hard to say farewell to some of the people we bonded with on the trip, but it also feels good to be taking things at our own pace again. Hasta la próxima vez!
Céline and Lisa
Last we left you, we were horseback riding in the Bolivian country side near Sucre. After Sucre we went to Potosi. We discovered very quickly that they do not believe in heating in Bolivia...and it was very cold. So a thousand blankets were piled on top of us and we couldn't let a toe peek out for fear of the cutting cold. (Dramatic enough for ya?) Potosi was an interesting city. We were back up a bit in altitude and we could feel it. The main attraction in Potosi is that you can go to the mines and see the mining conditions that many workers go through day in and out for their unfortunately short lived lives (short because of the working conditions). Basically the mines are dark, muddy, and wet. We had watched a documentary in Sucre about a young boy of 14 who worked in the mines. Some of the boys who start there are as young as 8. The whole experience of the mine tour was eye opening above anything else. The highlight was definitely the explosions.