Hola! Its sunday morning here, i´ve left sam watching wimbledon final in the hostel to write a much needed update!
Last time i wrote properly was after our visit to the desert and the salt flats. To be honest the week or so from thereon has had its real difficulties, you could call it ´real travelling´. The four day tour of the salt flats, which visually were increrdible, was done in 4 by 4 jeep, we were literally driving through deserts, pink lagunas, giant cacti, white lakes, volcanoes and bubbling geysers! and all at an altitude far too high for my liking! At times, the scenery was so incredible and unique you almost though your eyes were deceiving you! The weather was hard to get your head round too...warm, blue skies and very strong sun during the day but freezing freezing freezing at night. Cold took on a new meaning for me after this trip! WE slept at an altitude of 4800m above sea level, in what i can only call a stone hut, with a corregated plastic roof. It would have been warmer sleeping in a tent!!!! When the temperature dropped to minus 20c, i had two pairs of socks, tights, leggings, hat, gloves, scarf, 5 layers on top, sleeping bag and 4 blankets! me and sam pooled our blankets and body heat on a tiny single bed like our lives depended on it! We we sharing a room with the people on our tour, including one guy who truthfully had the loudest, more piercing snore i have ever heard. So, all in all the combo of altitude sickness, snoring, below freezing temps and a tiny single bed resulted in what i can only describe as the most challenging nights sleep iv ever had. It was an actual accomplishment in itself!
The second night of the tour was easier, we were at lower altitude about 3800, and the accomodation had a proper roof this time without gaps, proper lighter and even hot water, ish.
When we arrived in bolivia, uyuni em and sam and the two girls we did the tour with headed straight for the bus station to book tickets to deprart that day and head north. Lets just say uyuni is really the place you would choose to stay, and with only limited buses leaving the place loads of travellers get stuck there if they dont get in there quick enough. We were on the ball, and were feeeling very chuffed with ourselves when we secured four seats on a night bus to la paz. 11 hours was nothing compared to the 24 in chile, so we though nothing of the very cheap price, about 4 US dollars! we had a few hours to kill so went to the only recommended restaurant in lonely planet and ate the biggest pizza i have evr seen!! i needed after the questionable food provided on the tour!
Our bus left at 8, we arrived 15 min to be on the safe side, but orgabisation made no odds! it was mayhem there was about 8 buses on the road in total, we had no idea which was ours, there was people everywhere and most of them were locals. When we found our bus, my heart sank, to windows were completely smashed and ´repaired´with cellotape, i kid you not! Trying to remain optimistic we got on the bus, later named by myself the death train, and awaited our fate. When the bus set off, it was so bad, we had to laugh. We couldnt believe a jouney could be so rough, uncomfortable and painful. We wer ebeing thrown out of our seats so much sam hit his head! we were holding oj for dear life and praying that this was just a 5 min strech before the motorway. How niave we were, motorways! in south bolvia! nope, were on a dust road in a very old bus for 7 hours. To make it worse, 5 mins into the journey they switiched all the lights off...we couldnt see a thing. If you needed a wee, which i always do, you had to tell the driver and he´d stop on the road...literally. i couldnt even see sams face, but i can imagine the expressin he was pulling when we both realised this was going to be the next 11 hours! The locals were sleepingin the aisles, which made the whole thing even more bizarre and unbenown to us at the time, but there was festival going on all over bolivia which invloved burning bonfires all night. You can imagine, our first experience in bolvia on this ridculous bus and very village we stop/drive past is burning bonfires...we were like where the hell are we! what is this place!!!!
At about 4am the road picked up and me and sam finally managed to fall asleep only to be woken up half an hour later by the driver shouting st us in spanish to get off the bus abd get on another one. We had to get our bags and run through the bus terminal in this random town and get on another bus, i was so dizzy and confused coz of the altitude that i kept falling over...sam had to pull me along. I wasnt impressed! When we got on the bus, our seats were at opposite ends of the bus...at 4.30 am in the morning i was not prepared to sit next a random bolivian man! Plus the temperature had dipped to about minus 10 at this point and me and sam had no blanket, coats...only the clothes we were wearing so sharing body heat was essential! we stubbornly sat in two seats next to eachother, and after a heated deabte with a few bolivians and a very serious glare from sam, we got our way!
We arrived into la paz about 8am, and it was an incredible view to wake up to. The city is about 3660m above sea level, built in a sort of valley amongst snowcapped mountains. Shanty houses cling to the hillsides, amidst scyscrapers and beautiful colonial houses. As soon as you arrive in the city you´re confronted with the forward often brashness of bolivian people..all desperately trying to sell you stuff. The shoe shiners was the hardest thing to see, men on their hands and knees scrubbing other mens shoes. They wore balaclavas, i supose to conceal themselves as a sign of respect and inferiority...something so alien to our culture in this modern day.
Anyway, im going to leave it there for now...la paz and beyond is a whole other story which which ill attempt in the next few days before we move on to the coast...sea level, oxygen etc wahoo!!!
LOve you all, keep all your messages coming, we love hearing from everyone. And in case your wondering, took my last antibiotic this morning and im feeling right as rain now!
Love and hugs from us xxxxxxxxxx