Ok, so not much to report from Salta apart from an amazing parilla we had in a local restaurant called ´La Monumental´. Never eaten so much steak in my life! Tim even got his photo taken with the chef to prove how much meat we´d eaten!
Got on yet another bus headed for San Pedro de Attacama in northern Chile. Had to skip most of Chile out cos everyone we´ve met so far said how expensive it was, pretty much the same prices as back home so we just couldn´t do it.
Amazing bus journey through mountains of every colour you can imagine though, it looked like someone had used the landscape as their canvas and painted them in watercolours. The road was really windy through the Andes but finally we reached the Chilean border which was bang in the middle of the desert. Quick stamp and off we drove into the most arid desert in teh world: The Attacama desert.
San Perdro was pretty cool. A little Adobe town in the middle of the desert. Very touristy as there are so many tours you can do from there. Tim and I decided on the sandboarding, which is basically snowboarding but on sand. As our luck would have it the day we set off was the windiest day they´d had all year and the wind whipped the sand into our bare arms so hard i thought they might bleed. Still, we perservered but walking up the giant sand dune after every go was like battling the gladiators in the gauntlet, the wind actually blew me onto my face at one point and every time Tim smiled his teeth were covered in sand! haha!! After climbing back in the jeep almost crying sand, we saw the sunset over another Luna valley (think we were a little bit jaded after the ishigualato one but it was very pretty all the same, despite an ozzie lesbian couple swearing, drinking beer and mooning over the edge at the other tourists) Ah well, can´t win em all.
We also did the 4am tour, yes 4am! to the highest geyser field in the world, El Tatio. It´s 4200m above sea level and It was absolutely freezing but the steam rising up from the ground looked incredible. Apparently quite a few people have died after falling in cos you were just allowed to wander through the field which seemed crazy but everyone on our tour was fine! I actually suffered a bit from altitude sickness and had incredibly bad stomach cramps but these disappeared as we set off down the mountain and to a weird little village to eat llama kebabs.
Then on Tuesday we set off on the tour we´d been planning on doing since before we left, the 3 day trip from San Pedro to Uyuni in Boliva. There were 12 people in our group split into 2 4WDs. The first day we saw red lakes filled with flamingoes, swam in hot pools,saw crazy rock formations and green and blue lakes surrounded by mountains. The first night the 6 of us all slept in the same room in a weird shelter place where one lady worked by herself. It was so cold we had to sleep with all our clothes on! The altitude was ridiculous as well, we all had to chew coca leaves to stop feeling dizzy, theyre the leaves used to make cocaine and you fold then in half and put them in the side of your mouth and suck the juice through your teeth. tastes a bit like spinach water. we were so high that everytime you walked somewhere you were so puffed out after a few steps!
Then the second day we set off again listening to tunes on our ipod and chatting away. Saw lots more flamingoes, a cooled lava flow from an active volcano, more crazy rocks shaped by the wind and then we arrived at our 2nd nights accomodation in a salt hotel where everything was made of salt. Went to see the graveyard where some archeologist had randomly smashed open up all the graves so we could see the bones, and apparently just left them like that to disintegrate in teh weather. We were even allowed to touch the tools the incas used in colonial times! couldn´t believe we were allowed to touch them!
Then it was back to the salt hotel for dinner and wine (alcohol at altitude is not a good idea we discovered) but the stars in the desert were the best i´ve ever seen! They filled the whole sky!
Then after a 3am, yes that´s 3am, start to watch a rather disappointing sunset over the salt flats, we saw the cactus island which is pretty much like the salt hotel, exactly what it says on the tin. Saw lots more salt and then arrived in Uyuni, an absolute desert town where a midget in a chucky mask pointed at me, mimed slitting his throat and then gave me the middle finger. Nice. Caught our first Bolivian bus to Potosi which was actually ok after all the horror stories about the buses. tim nearly got piss poured all over him after a little girl weed in a pot and her dad threw it out the window, but apart from that it was pretty much alright. So we arrived in potosi which is where we are now.
There´s a huge mountain here that is mined for silver and we watched a really interesting film about it last night which you should watch called the devils miner´, it won lots of awards i think. the conditions people work in are horrific, 24hour shifts, 40 degree heat breathing toxic fumes. most miners die by 35 but they do it to make money although it´s not much. tim and this other girl, corrine from Sweden are gonna go on the mine tour where you go down into the mines and see the miners at work. you have to make offeerings to satan so that he won´t kill you and give the miners 95% alcohol!!!!!!! the other guys at our hostel said it was pretty tough, apparently there are 12 floors in the mountain but tourists only go to level 4 and you have to crawl through tiny holes and not touch the elecrticity cable above you. Sounds bloody horrible and think im gonna give it a miss after my claustrophobia attack in the last caving expedition i did in france.
right, welll that´s a long blog and i´m starving. Already had a bit of a funny tummy here and sure theres more to come, ah well, comes with the territory in bolivia im told. Love to hear from you, can´t beliebe its nearly xmas! They have a festive camel in teh square here which is getting us in the mood. Missing my advent calandar though, sob.
lots of love
sadie and Tim