|Bus journey from hell...... Thought the other ones were bad, this one took the prize!
Started off with us thinking we could just catch a bus to the bus terminal and get on the 11am bus. Oh no.... the bus was full, none till the following day, disaster. We had a tour booked for the following morning! Advised there was another bus station 3 blocks away, so we set off heavy bags n all up the street, felt like a lot longer then 3 blocks by the time we eventually saw the bus station, well at a stretch u could call it a bus station, lots of people gathered on a street, wit some sign of buses, and a few offices.
We stopped at an office of the company 11 de julio, and were told there was only 1 seat left, disaster, we could go at night, and arrive at 3am in the morning, or maybe wait and see if there was a chance we could get on. Not relishing the idea of carrying my bags any further than I ahd to, opted for the waiting and seeing idea. 10 mins after the bus was due to leave it turned up, chaos. Boxes of every kind of food stuff were bein flung on the top of the bus, people were everywhere, bags gettin lifted, laid, and we jus waited paitently, and right enough, the patient were blessed (sure they said that in the bible!), and we were offered 2 seats at the back of the bus for 30bol each. Happy days!
Well happy days for about 3 mins till we got on the bus and realised that the seats were next to a window that wouldnt shut, and behind a chair, that wouldnt move from fully reclinable!
The chair problem was fixed before we moved off, but Rachel had to suffer the window for the best part of the journey. In front of us sat the biggest woman we had ever seen, and her husband, at the side a mum with 3 kids, one 28days old! Not gonna be a peaceful journey.
Only broke down a few times, but it was so so slow, buses we would pass broken down,passengers on the road, would pass us over n over again. Huge woman kept making faces at Rachel, due to te gale force wind blowing thru the window. She didnae believe her claims of roto roto!(broke broke)
Stopped in the middle of nowwhere after 4 hrs to do a pee (glad of that!), and have a welcome stretch of very cramped legs. Meanwhile Mrs huge got her husband to shut the window, oops, weak girls! The torture eventually finished 8hrs after we started, in the darkness of Uyuni, lit up by one huge ferris wheel, obviously the local council thot that an essential purchase!!
Met by our tour guide of Sol de Mañana, and waited for her to try and tout new customers. No happy as you can imagine, us wantin to get to our hotel, and havin to stand in the bus depot, heavy bags on sore shoulders. Eventually we were allowed on board the 4x4 and taken to oor hotel. Promptly headed oot for something to eat, chose Arco Iris, a pizza n pasta place and realised that every other tourist in Uyuni was in the same place, inc Mech, Rachel and Mike from our Potosí tour. Good food, but slow slow slow was the pace.
Next day was a 1030am leave from the tour office, where we met oor tour group, Mech and Rachel we knew already, and there was Daan and Splynter, also from Amsterdam, so we were outnumbered 2-1 by the Dutch contingent.
Piled into the 4x4, wee legs in the back, that meant, me Rachel(Holland) and Mech. That also meant, seat in front jammed against oor knees(and we paid the same as they did!!). First stop on tour was the train cemetery, where there are loads of old rusting trains, the significance of this still eludes us!
Then it was off to the Salar de Uyuni, stopping at the village where they process the salt initially.
Lots of vendors selling all daft stuff made of salt, resisted buying any tat. Seems like we r in a convoy with every other tourist who was in Uyuni last night, every stop we make they all seem to be there as well. Next stop the salt hotel, nowwhere near as impressive as the ice hotel. What was more impressive was making lots of cool pìcs, jumpin, posin,walkin!!
Stopped at Inkahuasi island for lunch, along with every other tourist, where there was a lot of cactii!
The salt plain is so vast, 12000m2, incomprehensible, all you can see is salt all around, As it is the rainy season the salt plain has a covering of water on it, the skies are bright blue, fotos really dont do it justice, it is just amazing!
By the afternoon we were headed back to dry land, and a bumpy ride to the town of San Juan. A small township in the middle of absolutely nowwhere. Sunset then dinner(of chicken which we sure we heard gettin murdered), tasty tho!
Once the generator got switched off we all slept a lot better, no sign of the tourist convoy here, only one other jeep filled with untalkative tourists.
Soon changed that the following morning, when one of the girls imitated Daan(musician soon to be famous, watch this space, okay, maybe only in Holland, as his recently made CD is all in Dutch) dancing a bit salsa while waiting on the set off. Trying to be friendly I said to her stop showing off, went down like a lead balloon, turned out she wasnt American(as 1st thot), but Belgian, and didnt have sense of humour, asking me what i meant, How do you describe "showing off", then asking me where I was from, and said Oh youre Scottish thats why I dont understand your English. Retorting, Thanks for the compliment, I made a note to self- dont try to make jokes with dour faced tourists never gonna work!
So, events over, back in the jeep for more bumps, cramped legs, and amazing views of snow capped volcanos, desert, mountains, lakes, flamingos(smell not so amazing tho).
Stopped at the windiest place in the world at Laguna Colorado for the last nights lodging.
Took a walk down to see the flamingos, got covered in mud that dried white and stank and fought our way back(once we we managed to maneouvre oor way oot the mud), boots and trousers changed colour. There was no running water in the lodging, only a big bucket that you had to use to flush the toilet, cook, clean, wash self, Rachel no a happy girl as she was stinkn of the stuff!
Never mind, 24hrs, maybe a chance of a shower. Basic accomodation means just that, all 6 of us in the same room, lightbulb on till the generator gets switched off 930pm. Bedtime as we all up at 4am for day 3 of the tour.
4am alarm call felt like the middle of the night, technically it was, still pitch dark and freeeezzziinnngggg outside, we all huddled into the jeep , and bounced and shivered, warmed only by the Norah Jones CD that Daan n Splynter put on. Got to the geysers field just at sunrise(for some reason fotos quality not uploaded that great).
Impressive,and there was some warmth in the jets o hot steam, n bubbling mud.
We were droppped off at the natural hot springs and expected to strip down to swimstuff and get in, still about freezing outside, decided i wasnt brave enough to strip off, tho Mech was right in there, Go Girl- Chica Poderosa!, and I dipped toes n legs in, soaking my troosers in the process. Breakfast was had lake side, still freezing ma pants off, Rachel still havin toilet probs, we've had better mornings.
Last stop was Laguna Verde, after this we split into 2 groups, Mech, Rachel and Splynter on the 4 day tour back to Uyuni, while us n Daan all headed to Chile, San Pedro de Atacama. After a bus ride n a bag search by the paranoid Chileans I was back in Chile, back to european standards, and near european prices.....