Salt Plains, Volcanoes and Extreme Toilets!
24.05.2008 - 26.05.2008 15 °C
Uyuni hadn’t started out that great for us. We got up for our tour of the salt plains but had totally forgotten that we were in a different time zone. We were a little disorientated, discombobulated and knackered after all the traveling and a lot of High School Musical Top Trumps. After rushing around like mad eejits we found ourselves with an hour to kill and there ain’t much to do in Uyuni at 6am. There ain’t much to do in Uyuni at all, unless you count hanging around being poor and ugly.
The lads getting dressed for bed
we did consider cuddling for body warmth.. we only considered it
We grabbed some Bolivian style deep fried breakfast rolls which were sure to repeat on us, they seemed alright at the time but Bolivian food has a tendency of surprising you several hours later. We navigated by all cheap Ray Bans and boarded a Toyosa land cruiser for our tour, that’s right, even our jeep was a cheap knock off, typical Bolivia. We were joined by a couple of other travelers. In the front of the Toyosa there was a middle class Bolivian couple from La Paz, Richardo and his wife (her name escapes me at the moment).
Then we had Jorge who was Bolivian but had spent most of his life living in Arizona and he was still suffering from his journey deep in to the Potosi mines (we missed out on this experience because of road blocks caused by angry indigenous Bolivian dudes who wanted independence or college fees or something). Beside Jorge was a Japanese backpacker who we simply called “Takishi’s Castle” as we could not pronounce his name. This was a slightly racist name to give him but at least we could pronounce it and it was about time we were a little racist. He was incredibly tight with money... a proper backpacker, unlike us “flashpackers”. Finally we were joined by the lovely Heidi, a beautiful Canadian girl doing a little travel between her charity work at South American orphanages and she was full of chat and craic.
The word “Craic” is not an Irish word at all nor even derived from any Gaelic language. It is an Anglo-Saxon word which first appeared in English literature, specifically the north east.
Our first stop was at a train graveyard, it was reminiscent of the airport in Con Air... but with trains... and salt. This gave us the ideal opportunity to climb all over rusty trains and act the maggot and boy did we! Tilly and Derek ended up getting naked so they could take off a couple of layers since the weather was beginning to heat up. The next stop was at a village in the middle of the salt plains with a bunch of shops made out of salt that sold nothing but stupid looking salt souvenirs and Pringles... you couldn’t move for the Pringles, they were everywhere.
As we walked back to the Toyosa, Conor was nowhere to be found until he strolled out of one of the shops, decked out in a huge techni-coloured poncho. It was far too hot for a poncho and Conor certainly didn’t have the room in his backpack but he was still soooo tempted to invest. And with Conor’s tan it really made him look like a Mexican villain, ay ay ay mucho Pringles! Then we drove for a bit and stopped at some salt lumps... and that’s all they were, lumps. So after that thrilling sight we had a long drive across the massive plain to our “hotel”. It was located at the foot of a volcano, which rose in the horizon like an island in a sea of salt.
What would Jeremy Clarkson say? "Let see... how it drives!!!"
The lads getting naked on a train
Isn't Bolivia just beautiful?
The last supper... pass the salt there Jesus
We got to the volcano at about 4pm so we had ages to kill in the middle of nowhere. Our guide suggested that we climb the volcano. There was a track to follow and it would only take 1-2 hours. Now we presumed that this meant in about an hour we would be gaping down into the spout of the volcano. Our guide had failed to communicate the fact that the track only goes to a viewing point which was about an eighth of the way up the volcano. Needless to say we got lost, very lost. We managed to find a random cement bunker with a covered man hole... we came to the conclusion that it was a part of the Darma Initiative from Lost.
After making numerous jokes about Polar Bears, Ekko and how no one watches that TV show anymore, we noticed that Tilly had disappeared. His silhouette soon appeared in the distance. He eventually caught up and informed us that he was “being at one with nature... or should I say at two with nature”.
We got about half way up the volcano after hiking for about 3 hours before we eventually called it a day. Derek was practically jogging up the mountain. His tactic was that if he climbed fast he could have more breaks. Jack spent his time at the back of the group shouting encouraging phrases and slogans to keep everyone in high spirits but more importantly it was a prime position to see Heidi’s bum. By the time we started heading back it was getting dark. All of a sudden it was pitch black as if the sun was simply switched off and we only had the light on Jack’s phone to guide us home.
Because the landscape was so flat the sky was lit by stars in every direction and we even spotted the odd shooting star as we lay flat out staring up at the natural light show.
We couldn't get close to the wild flamingos, so Conor did an impression
Derek really likes salt
Our unsuccessful hike up the volcano
Our walk back in the pitch black of night
For dinner we were served some very salty llama meat that we saw earlier hanging on a clothesline out in the courtyard, no health and safety in Bolivia. The food wasn’t exactly nice but it seemed safe compared to the crap we had already been served in this country of culinary calamities. Without a drop of alcohol, we spent that night playing High School Musical top trumps with Heidi, it was wild fun.
The next morning we had to wait for the guide to drive back to Uyuni to get more supplies so we walked to the next town. Apparently there was a museum there and some other sites. The place was a little like Ireland and all stony grey soil had us reciting legendary leaving cert poems. The museum was just someone’s yard with a load of old pots in it. So we ditched the place and decided to climb all over the local church... we were probably insulting the locals but there didn’t seem to be any.
A successful hike up the side of a church
Derek being a real cool dude
Tilly eating Heidi
A touch of Parkouring on the salt Island
Tilly getting between Derek's legs
Of course, Tilly spent half the time walking on his hands
Jack's hands are quite large
The actual size of Conor's custom made condom
Our tour was about to start again so we had to retrace our steps. Since we had cool sunglasses and fancy cameras we did some CSI: Miami impressions and found our way back. We then did the obligatory big/small thing pictures on the salt plain. Our last stop was a cactus island which we bounced around for an hour but little did we know that this was the last of our fun.
"Where the F*&k is number 17??!!" - A frustrated Conor, while standing outside room 17
"I don't want to go around riding women, I want women to go around riding me" - A random quote during our many conversations on buses, trains and toyosa land cruisers
"Where were you Tilly?"
"I was being at one with nature... or should I say at two with nature" - After Tilly disappeared for 5 minutes on the volcano
Conor - "Looks like we've been here before"
Horatio - "...or have we?"
Cue the music from CSI:Uyuni