Watch out world the Barkers are coming!
Back to civilisation after a three day jeep tour from San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama dessert in Chilli, over the border into Bolivia through the Salt flats and fantastic scenery to Uyni, South West of Bolivia. We spent two nights in San Pedro, aclimatising again, eating lovely food and staying in our own hut in the garden of the hostel, very expensive but we did think we would have three days of terrible food and no comfort on the tour. How wrong we were, they took us by bus to the border where after the formalities at the Bolivian mud hut, next to the snow covered volcano, they presented a good breaky with hot drinks and our 2 jeeps which seated 7 comfortably. In one jeep a couple doing a similar trip to us, and their two friends who had joined them for a month in Chille, all from Lyon, France. And in our jeep was a German girl, Maggie, a student travelling South America, a lovely Japanese girl called Aya who really got involved with the locals and the children, after spending 8 months in Africa teaching kids, an Irish guy from Cork, Ed, and his mate Seb from Germany, who both work in Switzerland as chefs in St Moritz ski resort, (Very high Society!!) They had both just finished a season in Chilli and are now drinking and laughing thier way round Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. Everyone got on really well, a good giggle had by all, and a couple of friends well made. The sights we saw were amazing, lakes high in the mountains reflecting snow topped volcanos (Casa in Japenese), surrounded by salt and different colours depending on the minerals. 1 was Azure blue, the colour spread over the lake as the light changed, whilst above a rainbow coloured, still northen light spectacle formed on the edge of the cloud next to the sun. The guides could not really explain it, saying it was the house of the sun? Another lake was white from the salt, and one red from the minerals and the plancton the Flamingos fed on, (of which we saw many). We were expecting hot baths in the springs, which turned out to be a little trickle on the side of a lake,but the geezers were spectacular, very hot steam gushing out of the ground, and black sulphur stinking mud bubbling away. Our first night was in a barren wind swept, very basic hostel, cold and not comfy, but the name game was good fun, even if there was no boose! Crazy gringos with Gaffa tape on their head! The second day was pritty long, bumpy drives through barren waste land, a few flamingo lakes, a rock that looked like a tree because of the wind!? It finished extremly well with a footy match, gringos against bolivianos, and extremly heavy ball played on a basket ball pitch! Good game had by all, it looked knackering it being 3700 metres above sea level. The gringos did extremly well, they actually won 6,5 but the final goal scored by the locals won the game? Lazy me did not play, but watched the sweat flow and the breathing seem impossible! We stayed in a hotel where the interior bricks, beds, table, chairs and the floor were all made of salt! The night finished with a very messy drinking game consisting of red wine, beer, and pisco cola...don't ask...Dave lost 1 round ending in a lot of puke going out of the bedroom window! The last day we drove across pure salt flats, pure white as far as the eye can see, the light plays a trick with the heat, resulting in a mirage effect like glass or water with the mountains reflected in it. Very bizarre, no picture could ever show the crazyness! Our guide took us to to an island in the middle of the plain, made by volcanic rock and covered in enourmous Cacti, very bizarre. We drove for miles through the salt, passed the salt factory, (they use it for curing meat) to Uyuni where we stopped at a train graveyard, enourmous old steam engines now un-used because Europe do not need it imported anymore. Sad to see these amazing pieces of machinery left to rot. When we arrived in Uyuni, ready to make our next moves, it turned out there it was a holiday and nothing was open to get any money to be able to leave. Expecting a great feista in the evening our jeep group headed out, only to end up in a dodgy club feeling very out of place with the drunk rowdy locals, brawling and falling around. No guessing we left pritty swiftly! Dave and me are still in Uyuni, out train not being 'till 11pm, the others have left for Potosi in the opposite direction (we do smell pritty bad!) so we are left the travelling two again. It was great fun on the tour, special thanks to crazy Seb and Ed for making it such a laugh! Adios for now, we shall write again when we reach Buenos Aires. Come on England! May as well say it now as there is no way we are shouting it in an Argentinian bar!!!