19th May 2013
The dreaded alarm went off at 5am and I felt terrible. It definitely didn't seem like a good idea now! I think maybe in the back of our minds we thought that the tour would be canceled. I looked at Josh who looked particularly worse for where. I quickly got changed then we all got into a big white van. It was a 4 hour journey on bumpy roads. Although it didn't stop all of us who were hungover sleeping. Josh even had a pit stop to get sick, he really didn't look great! Half way through the journey we stopped off for breakfast. It was good and better then some hostel breakfasts! Ham, cheese, cereal, yogurts and hot drinks!
We arrived at the Chilean bordered and had to queue for what felt like ages. They were very official! There was some commotion from our group as a Chinese girl only had a visa one way into Chile meaning she couldn't return which she needed to as her flights back was from Santiago. The poor girl had to wait at the border for our big bus to pick her up in route back, no salt flats for her! We got to the Bolivian border control, it was ridiculously relaxed compared to any border I had visited before. Just two guys in a wooden shed like building who stamped the passport without even looking at it. So so easy!
After we had got passed border control we were split into groups. Our group was me, Josh, Serena, Robbie and a guy from Hong King Eddie. Eddie was very quiet and although we tried to involve him sat in the front taking photos. That meant we had the back to ourselves making it such a comfortable ride!
We were introduced to our driver Marcus an old Bolivian guy and off we went! Our first stop was some random lava volcanic rocks and we were produced with lunch. The lunch was amazing, llama meat, salad and rice. It was so good! We sat in a group in the sun eating before eventually it was time to move on.
The next stop was more volcanic rocks, one shaped just like a tree. All around was little bits of snow. Was pretty cool to see all the different rock formations and especially when they create something random like the rock tree. We were then taken to a large lagoon where wild flamingos live. I literally love flamingos and I've never seen them anywhere but at the zoo, it was so cool to see the in their natural habitat. We could get really close up which was cool, they just stared at us probably wary that we might come too close. The next stop was a large lake which appeared pink due the micro organisms. Josh did explain in more detail to me as to why, but my brain is not scientific so stuff like this confuses me! It was interesting any who especially the steam which came off the lake!
After a long day off crossing boarders and visiting the different stops we arrived at our accommodation. There was no electricity so a generator was only used for a short period of time whilst our diner was cooked. It was so basic and extremely cold. We were served coca tea and biscuits on arrival. We all held out cups tight to keep warm. We were then served diner, a starter of home made vegetable soup and then spaghetti bolognaise followed by a peach dessert. We really were getting fed well! After diner we all got straight in to bed to keep warm and also be side we were all so tired and hungover. Josh, Serena, Robbie and I chatted for a bit before falling into a deep sleep.
20th May 2013
We were woke up early to a breakfast of tea, pancakes and cloudy apple juice. We then made our way back to our jeep to continue the journey to the salt flats. At one point the other jeep stopped and we saw Stephen an annoying Swedish guy get out and then the other Jeep drove in the opposite direction whilst our Jeep continued. We thought he felt sick so had left the vehicle for a bit but it turns out they'd left their lunch at the hostel and rather then stay in the car he'd rather stand in the middle of nowhere then return with them to collect. Each to there own!
On our drive we had to stop due to a Llama crossing. Llamas are so funny, there little faces look so bewildered. There was lots of them including some cute baby Llamas. I felt bad that I could of eaten one of their friends for lunch the previous dat! After the final Llama had crossed we drove a bit further until we came to another large lagoon and tried to waste a bit of time waiting for the other jeep to catch back up with us. Eventually when they had we were taken to area of massive volcanic rock formations. The boys were in heaven, it was ridiculous how high they climbed. In my opinion Josh and Robbie only climbed so high because the Israeli guys who had just left the army were managing to get so high. It's no exaggeration when I say they spent over an hour just jumping from rock to rock. I was petrified watching Josh so high up, he never told me when he went to climb the highest point. Probably because I would of tried to stop him! Marcus came over to let us know that lunch was served. Today was tuna salad with rice. It was lush, I wanted to be fed like this everyday!
After lunch we were taken to the main city in the province. It seemed like a ghost town! We all walked around not really knowing what to look at. Then, two jeeps rolled up...The British chavs emerged wearing animal furry hats which looked ridiculous. Then the chanting started, god knows what they were singing but I think they thought they were strolling down the streets of a Greek party Island. The poor town probably didn't know what hit them. Us Brits of our group just cringed and explained to the others what a chav was and that we were noway associated with these people! No wonder we get such bad reputations!
On route to our next accommodation we randomly stopped off to see some donkeys. When we arrived at our accommodation we all decided that we were going to get some alcohol from the local village and have a proper send off. Our group of two jeeps had become particularly close and we all got on great. Well except for the annoying Swedish guy. He was so obnoxious and rude we all kind of ignored his comments now! We started playing card drinking games, our particular favourite the pyramid! Guaranteed to get us tipsy especially in the high altitude. Our diner was served, leek and potato soup, chicken and potatoes and a bottle of wine. It was really nice to have a proper send off meal together. We saved the wine for after the meal when we continued to play drinking games until our alcohol ran out. When it had we all sat outside and watched shooting stars and the lightening across the salt flats.
Eventually we all made our way to bed ready for another early morning. Serena got trapped by a crazy little Bolivian girl who just wanted to be swung around and play. Bolivian kids are just so cute! Especially when they have the traditional clothes on. we all chatted about childhood memory's of the 90's in bed before falling asleep ready for our last day of the tour.
21st May 2013
We were woken up at 5.30am for an early ride to the salt flats to see the sun rise. It really was beautiful seeing the sun rise over just what seemed like miles of just flat white. Apparently the salt flats are larger then England, madness! So much salt!
After we had seen the sun rise we were taken to a large cactus island in the middle of the salt flats. The cactuses were massive, some probably more then three times the size of me! By the time we had all explored Marcus had prepared a lovely breakfast for us, he really was a star! Even giving us lollipops along the way. After we'd finished breakfast both jeeps were taken to a random part of the salt flats. We had so much fun! All taking photos which because of the miles of the salt flats made us look like we were sitting on objects which were smaller then us. Josh and I got a photo where it looks like I'm standing on a spoon and his about to eat me. We all set up a cricket match across the salt flats which Robbie who is a cricket fanatic orchestrated.
Unfortunately whilst on the salt flats we received some heartbreaking news. Josh's grandad had lost his battle with cancer. Josh looked up to him so much. I can honestly say Tony is one of the nicest and laid back people I have ever met. Very similar to Josh, I see a lot of him in Josh. Feeling very upset we, Josh especially, tried to just get on with the rest of the day. I am pretty positive looking at Josh and knowing him as well as I do that his Grandad didn't leave his thoughts all day.
We were taken to the salt museum where it was surrounded by big mounds of salt. None of us were that interested to actually go in so we had a final amazing lunch prepared by Marcus again. This time breaded chicken, vegetables, and pasta. So good! Definitely was going to miss the amazing lunches!
After lunch we were taken to a local market and then some abandoned trains. Of course the boys loved the the trains again climbing them until we had to leave. We were all taken to our final destination Uyuni. So we all exchanged contact details and said our goodbyes. I could of traveled with our group minus the Swedish guy for the rest of the trip! We planned to meet Serena and Robbie in Potosi but explained rather then jump on a bus right there we needed a bit of time to relax.
We checked into our hostel only to learn that they didn't have wifi. We were Gutted because all we wanted to do was speak to Josh's family. So after a needed shower we walked to try and find an Internet cafe. On route we bumped into Eddie the guy from Hong Kong who had stated relatively quiet along the 3 day trip. He seemed happy to see us and stopped for a chat, when we explained that we were searching for wifi he informed us he had his own room in a hotel and we were more then welcome to use the wifi there. Relieved we followed him. Bless him he really helped us out. We managed to Skype Mark and Jackie which I know made Josh feel better.
Not wanting to seem rude we invited Eddie to diner with us. We found a nice little restaurant. Josh and Eddy both ordered Llama steak and I had a a Lomo beef steak. A little into our meal we were joined by a Spanish girl and the annoying Swedish guy. Not being able to stand him a moment longer when my meal was finished Eddy, Josh and I left before they'd finished their meals. Eddie was in a rush as it sounds like his rather demanding girlfriend wanted to Skype at a certain time!
Josh and I made our way back to our private room, got into our bed and got an early night before our journey to Potosi the following day.