Picture this: two dishevelled travellers with massive packs rock up at a servo, beg for a wifi password and sit down to feverishly start punching away at their smart phones. That was us.
Let me try to justify... Making your way overland from Cafayate to Salar De Uyuni is a mission. When I zoomed out on the map, it looked a much more respectable distance to cover in one go: as such we were pretty keen to just knock out this leg of the trip quickly. We have a flight in Lima to make on the 10th March, and so much on the to-do list between here and then! Cafayate to Salta was a couple of hours (4) and surprisingly beautiful. The road passes right through the Quebrada (coloured mountainous ranges) and made for some pretty spectacular viewing. Upon arrival at Salta, we booked an onward bus to La Quiaca (the Argentinian side of the border); which would arrive around midnight. (It was due to arrive around 10:30pm but we knew it'd run late). It was only after making that booking that we realised we had no more Pesos (to pay for accom. at midnight), had nowhere to stay when we got there, and only an hour to try to rectify this.
OK: find an ATM. Note to travellers: ATM's at Salta Bus Terminal wont give you money using GE's 28 Degrees MasterCard. So we need to get money onto some of our other cards and try them... to do that, we need internet.
Find internet: Info Centre tells us internet cafes are available at the town centre; a 30 minute walk away. Since our bus leaves in 40 minutes - no good. What about a cafe with free WiFi? There's a "Free WiFi" sign on that alfajore place! Try that. Nope. She old bird running the joint told us off in lightning-fast Spanish and we made our bulky and awkward exit.
There's a servo!.. Worst case scenario Sjane will be able to pee (always a necessity - bladder the size of a pea). And they have WiFi! Bingo! Sjane got to finding us some accommodation in the dingy border town of La Quiaca whilst I got to transferring money into the various emergency cards we've been carrying with us. Soon after, I dashed off to discover that Salta ATM's dont like any cards under the sun - so no money. Fortunately Sjane had more success. We had a room to head towards, instead of loitering awkwardly at the bus terminal at midnight wondering where to go. We got to our onward bus with moments to spare, and entertained ourselves on an uneventful busride by beginning a pretty serious Arrow binge that would last at least the next few weeks (seriously, how good is it!?).
After a few hours sleep, we hit the border nice and early in an attempt to "beat the rush". There was no such rush, but we made friends with a couple of Argentinian kids (I use the term for anyone younger than me - both 24 haha!) who decided to join us on the way to Uyuni. The train was cheap and available that day, so we killed the day sitting in the train station waiting for an old dust-bucket that would drag us slowly up north. Mate was passed around, more friends were made (two Israelis - as a group we now sounded like the start of a bad joke) and finally the train arrived.
The trip to Uyuni was long (12ish hours) but unremarkable except for a couple of really spectacular vistas (see Sjane's jaw-dropping shot of the sun setting over the shoulder of a rocky ridge), and the fact that there was more dust in the air than oxygen. We dozed: occasionally waking to see the rapidly changing panoramas as night fell. The lunar landscape slid past and the moon slowly dropped from the sky.
The train finally pulled in at Uyuni, only for us to realise that (once again) it was after midnight, we had no accommodation and no thought in our minds other than a soft pillow and a mattress. And maybe a shower the next morning.
Not my usual level of organisation at all. But we had dreams of the infamous Salt Flats (Salar De Uyuni) to buoy us onwards for tomorrow.