So, have you heard the one about the Welsh Couple, the Scottish Couple and the Irish Couple who go to the Bolivian Salt Flats? Well here it is...
So me and Kim (the Irish Couple), Del and Linda (the Scottish couple, friends of Steven and Lynsey we met on the stag/hen doo´s and their wedding at home and met up with in La Paz, the Amazon and now Uyuni, gateway to the Salt Flats), head to the tour office ready for the trip, where they meet this Welsh couple. Now, the trip was to spend 2 nights/3 days on the flats, travelling in a 7-seat 4x4. With this, comfort was priority, and here the antics commence.
Del, ever the pragmatist, did not want an English-speaking guide. Not because of the cliched tght-fisted-mess preventing him from spending the US$30/day price tag, but he ´didnt want another seat taken and compromising comfort´- aka Dead Weight.
On the same train of thought, when we booked the trip the previous day two names were already down. Now Del, in the most tactile Spanglish he could muster, asked if they were big (signalling height with his hand raised above his head while on his tip-toes). My lovely Wife, however, came out with, in her perfect Spanish language (since Maddy had left) and famous front-and-centre, middle -of-the-doorway nature - ´¿GORDO?´ (literal translation - ´are they FAT?´)
While Del picked up his jaw and Linda laughed, I shrugged it off as another´Ah, I`m so proud..` moment. The owner nervously laughed, not really answering.
Anyway, back to the morning of the trip and the answer to the questions - Yes, they were tall but No, they werent at all fat.
After polite intros, a curfuffell with another tour operator (they tried to pach us because our proper huide thought we had not paid - case of mistaken identity, not attack of the tight-fisted Scotsman as you might be thinking) and we were off. Oh, apologied for another tangent but I feel I must note that some of us thought Del secretly wanted poaching as during our extensive trawl of the operators this one chap `Mullett Man`had quite an effect on Del. Del was fixated as he stroked his mullett while brandishing one front tooth that was rotting from the root to form a weird `J`shape. Linda wanted to go with the one operator that promised on the flyer `You wont be stolen`.
We ended up with Edgar. A nice chap with good English - combining driver and guide as one - RESULT! English guide without the price tag or the burden of an extra space taken! Plus, he bears an uncanny resemblence to a very familiar face back home in Belfast. See the pics of Kim and Edgar, aka, Steven Reynolds´ Bolivian Cousin! Our families`Bolivian cousins are everywhere out here I tells ya. Not sure if the pic we did manage to get this time does justice Steve, but in real life it is spectacular, even has the wicked sense of humour!
So, with Edgar off we sat on our 2-night trip. All threecouples quickly got on well. As you may tell my new `Genial` (Cool - expert Spanish since Maddy left) hat started taking a mocking and becoming a centre-peice for both photos and jokes. I, of course, think it is very genial and the only option I could take in such an environment. I even boasted how it would protect my head from all the suns attack. Unfortunately this lead to more mocking. In my bravado I decided sun cream would not be required with such a shade-bearing (and muy genial) head adornment. It wasnt until we got to the Salt Hotel that evening that I realised my mistake. I was bright red with burn as I forgot about the Sun reflecting off the salt. This left me not only with a burn you could see from the moon, but handing my fellow passengers muy ammunition having previously boasting `You are all just jealous, you`d love a hat like mine`.
All this made me grumpy, which combined to give Kim and Linda in particular the catalyst for the nickname The Angry Tomato. Not Pleased.
Anywho, scenery was great, lots of hilarity with perspective shots as you will see here and on Facebook. PS - Kim forgot the lead for her camera so lots more to upload in time.
As mentioned, we stayed in a Salt Hotel the first night which was really cool. The view looked like something from a computer game set in a post-apocolyptic future. Again, see pics.
Second day was for lakes, flamengos and more piss-takes. We even enjoyed a good sing-song - see video. We also stopped at the iconic `Rock Tree`. A great rock formation carved out by the wind blowing sand against it. We bumped into some Japanese guys who were earlier throwing stones at the Flamengos. We were agreived by this so I decided to accidentally-on-purpose ruin his photos by happenning to always be in shot, walking round as he tried to move me out of frame. Childish, but satisfying. When he started to climb the rock I lost the bap then and shouted at him. He stopped. Again, satisfyinmg. John C youve been there on the mean streets of Springburn!
Later, this approach took a more hilarious turn, again with me being the butt of it all. We had bunked down as a group of 6 but only after a night on the sauce.
We arrived early, about 4pm. We felt bad and decided not to open the first bottle of wine till after 5, in respect of all you guys working back home! After finishing a game of Uno from the night before Kimbo decided to crack open a hen-do gift from Ros. Yes Harry Barry, that game made it all the way across the globe, through the ages to unite three couples in fervent competition - Pass the Pigs!
The arguments continued (mostly in-fighting between individual couples) as the intensity built. Eventhough we were mocking it, by the 4th round we were gripped and extended apologies to Kim, Ros and Harry. We continued to play, and me and Kim continued to come last. So much for having experience on my side!
After dinner and more wine we played more Uno. Now, I like a larf as much as the next person, but I didnt see why you cant have fun within the boundaries of the game. I also dont see why you should inherit the position of `Uno Police` for this viewpoint.
Follows much more laughs and photo evidence at Damo`s expense.
Yes you are right, folks, and Briege in particular, its not just Kim getting abuse on this trip. I was mocked endlessley (well, only a bit more than Richard who was always too big!) But what makes it worse was I was sick! I had a runny tummy for the whole trip and still got abuse. There were times when I would go to the toilet only to have to return 10mins later. Because you had to pay for this privaledge (and again me and Kim brought insufficient funds - you`d think we`d lear!) and we had to ration loo-roll Kim shouted at me to stay in longer. Inevitably, this induced stage fright leading me to pay $5Bolivianos for a fart.
Anywho, back to the trip and the stuff there. After a night of passing pigs (along with other stuff) and drinking red wine we had a 5am start for the geysers. Obviously no-one was in great form and when we got there the stink of the sulphir outweighed the cool bubling pits of grey mud. After linda hurled we made for the hot springs.
I was dissapointed here (maybe it was more to do with the Brazilian guy in an Alpaca cardigan and speedos mincing around with his belly out) so I returned to the hut for breakfast. After Del, Richard and Leah ent for a dip in the springs we went to Laguna Verde. Spectacular. The green lake, snow-capped volcano and bright, clear blue sky. Pic wont do it justice but I do have one (including my stone pile and genial hat!) on Kim`s camera. Upload coming...
After Leah went for a pee behind a rock while a van-load of toursits pulled alongside our hilarious adventure on the Salt Flats of Boliva was at an end, as too our time in Boliva.
This blog does little to describe just how muach fun and awe-inspiring this varied land was, but we continued our trip as a three-some to Chile. That blog is to follow, after my next installment - Reflections on Bolivia.