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Uyuni, the last stop in Bolivia

Written on: Saturday January 5th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Uyuni, Bolivia 

Author: Julie 


Oh boy are we happy that we didn?t try to do this bus ride yesterday night. We left earlier this morning on a 6-hour bus ride from Potosi to the city of Uyuni, located in the south of Bolivia on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, the world?s largest salt flat. 

Our micro-bus was supposed to leave at 11 AM but didn?t arrive to pick us up at the bus terminal till almost noon. When it did arrive one of its window?s was taped up with duct tape. We?re figuring something had shattered it and they were late because they had to fix it. At the outskirts of town, we left the paved road to get on the highway heading south. It looked to be in construction with plenty of construction equipment pushing earth around and packed gravel below our tires. Unfortunately, it turns out that the whole highway, all 200 kms between Potosi and Uyuni, is endless construction. So we spent what should have been 6 but was really 7 hours bumpy along at breakneck speeds in muddy and slippery conditions. In the first hour, with the help of mileage markers along the road, I calculated we had travelled a total of 25 kilometres. The further we got, the more the road turned into a cattle trail with the bus crossing dry riverbeds and wedging itself between mountains as it worked it way south. We were really excited at the beginning of the trip for this felt like we had finally venture out of what little modernity Bolivia had into the great, wild untamed. But that quickly wore off by the 5th hour when our hip bones were getting bruised by our rib bones and there was no end in site to the trip. I could not have imagined having done to this road last night, in the dark and exhausted from the 4 hour ride from Sucre. Mid-way through the ride, the duct tape that was holding the window in place a few seats ahead of us finally let go from the driving rain and wind, and the poor guy who had to sit in that seat was forced to change to another empty seat which had luckily just been vacated a half hour earlier when we had dropped someone off in the middle of nowhere. Its saving grace was that the scenery in some places was unbelievable and nothing like we had seen up till then. We took quite a few photos to pass the time by. 

When we finally arrived at our destination it was in a rainstorm that had turned the street into swimming pools. We checked into our hostel for the next couple of nights and headed out to find a bite to eat. The nearest place turned out to be a rocking Pizza joint that was packed with only 2 seats remaining at a table. It was filled with people either preparing to leave on the 3 day Salar de Uyuni tour or arriving. It was the most white people in one place that we had seen since leaving Canada. It felt a little strange to be able to understand some of the conversations around us and to be able to blend and not stick out like the filling in an Oreo.