The Circuito de Uyuni, Bolivia

The Circuito de Uyuni is a must see when traveling to Bolivia. From Tupiza the trip lasts three nights and four days and costs 130 USD per person for four people. You sort of arrive in town and try to meet people as quickly as possible to organize a max of six people to travel with on the 4X4 off roading adventure. I just finished the four day trip and want to start off by saying that it was the most ridiculous, dangerous adventure of my entire life. It was also the most thrilling, beautiful and out of this world experience that I will remember forever! We were supposed to leave at 9am and didn’t end up leaving the hostel until just after 10am. The hostel had three 4X4 Jeeps scheduled to leave that day. We had paid thirty dollars extra for a four person trip as six people would have been uncomfortably squished. It turns out that one of the Jeeps only had three people in it and they were unwilling to leave until they found a few other people to join the Jeep, how irritating. We waited as the short little Bolivian woman who work for the hostel ran to the bus station to try and coerce new arrivals to join our excursion. Two French women became rather livid and walked down the road to talk to the owner of the hostel. Minutes later we were throwing out packs onto the roof of the Jeep and hopping inside our new home on wheels.

We had no clue what to expect from this trip. Our Jeep immediately sped through the city and reached the “highway?” This motorway was actually a dried up riverbed. We immediately started hysterically laughing as we drove 100 km/h over incredibly rocky terrain. I had to put my arms over my head to brace myself from whacking my noggin into the ceiling. We were air born for a good part of the trip. Our jaws dropped as we saw vultures eating a dead dog on the side of the road. Welcome to the third world! Our Jeep swerved for a good one hour as our heads bobbed to blaring Bolivian pop music. We made two new Bolivian friends, Julio our driver and his sister Selia who sat in the passenger seat and was in charge of making all of our meals throughout the trip.

I got my first dose of Martina on this initial leg of the trip. She had me hysterically laughing. Imagine a prissy British girl who had never left her creature comforts suddenly thrown into an incredibly dangerous rather filthy adventure. I wrote down several quotes that she spurted out on the first hour of our trip. She became most anxious (as did the rest of us) as our jeep soon climbed the mountains. We zoomed up the small little dirt mountain paths at illegal speeds. I felt like I might die as the driver rounded hairpin turns on the side of cliff faces thousands of feet above the rocky desert bellow. My butt was thoroughly bruising as we bobbed up and down on our seats and slammed from side to side. A quote from Martina, “Oh my Lord almighty. Its beautiful but God don’t let it be the end!” Our jeep finally reached an elevation of 3700 meters where we stopped to take some beautiful pictures of the panoramic desert landscape. This is when my adorable little camera died. I was initially in shock and couldn’t even manage to splurge on feelings of depression. My camera has had several scary moments throughout the trip where I was certain it was going to konk out for good. I tried to think positively!

We drove along the winding mountaintop ghetto roads and passed by a ghost town gold mining village. The Bolivian countryside certainly is third world. Several times I had to pinch myself as I felt I was in some sort of National Geographic special. We passed by several little villages with no more than 80 residents. Most of the people here live without heat or electricity in mud huts with grass roofs. I tried to sit back on my bench and relax a bit as I became accustomed to the threat of cliff side peril. I stared at the windshield in front of me and smiled as I saw the cutesy Bolivian knit green and pink bobbles that jostled on the ceiling.

Our Jeep stopped at a rather odd geographic space. It was a vast plain surrounded by mountains. We stopped in the middle of the flat land and noticed some rather interesting visitors surrounding us. We hopped out of the jeep and Sarah asked if there was a washroom nearby. This is when we first became accustomed to the concept of Natural Banos. Peeing behind a bush would become commonplace for the next couple of days. For the next hour we walked around the grasslands taking pictures of the multicoloured Llamas which surrounded us. I had an ever so thrilling time chasing (a Lioness sneak attack) after Llamas as I flapped my arms and screamed like an eagle. In the next four days we would see thousands of Llamas across the countryside. They are ugly and stupid animals who don’t actually have the ability to run. Their legs are really awkward and when you chase them they sort of fall gracefully and stumble to and fro. The ground was full of white and orange veined precious stones which I admired as I fumbled with them in my hands. We returned to the Jeep for lunch: ham and cheese sandwiches and warm tamales stuffed with Llama meat.

We hopped back in our Jeep and drove through more varied scenery. The landscape was a vast red sand dune spotted with green and yellow tuffs of wild grass. We noticed black circles along the mountainside and soon realized that they were Llama dung heaps. It is rather fascinating when you realize that Llama’s shit in an organized fashion. They all shit in one little area forming what looks like an abandoned campfire. We continued driving with the tunes of Jagged Little Pill blasting over the stereo system and stopped at a small village of 80 people. The little town was surrounded by black donkeys meandering around the hill sides. We took a picture of the town’s small little church made of mud bricks and chatted with three cute little local kids who were following us around.

Our Jeep finally drove onto a flat desert area where we were able to drive at lightening speed. I saw huge flocks of small little sparrow like birds that followed our us as we sped across the desert floor. It seemed a lot like a safari as we passed by flocks of ostrich which shook their bottom feathers at our car as we sped past them. Boy can they run! We put on Gwen Stefanie’s LAMB album and had ourselves a bit of a dance party as we were soon crashing into rambling rivers. I soon became very comfortable with our Jeep driving into just about any sort of danger. Be it cliff faces or raging rivers. We stopped in the middle of the desert at a Llama graveyard which was rather creepy. A huge pile of Llama bones was surrounded by an artistically displayed line of Llama skulls. We were told that a few years ago a very cold winter killed many of the Llamas. Tourists ended up picking up all of the scattered bones and decorated the desert with their remains.

A few minutes later after our first long day of driving we arrived at a small little village made of mud. A small little boy no older than five years old pulled back a piece of metal scaffolding which allowed our truck to drive into the center of “town.” Our drivers pointed out a little door which we were told was our bedroom for the evening. We walked into this mud building to find six small little beds on concrete floors. There was no heat and we could see our breath in the frigid air. We all sat down on our beds which felt like ice and had a short tantrum regarding our sleeping conditions. If anything it was a sure fire authentic experience. Ireland had me laughing all day with her terrified facial expressions and ended our day with the most hilarious suggestion. She asked us all if we wanted lavender drops on our pillows. She insisted the smell of lavender would aid us in our sleeping under such barbaric conditions.

We walked into a separate little hut which acted as our dining room. We had our first taste of cocaine tea, the countries national beverage (forget about Mate now!) Cocaine leaves are illegal in every country but Peru and Bolivia and are consumed in liquid tea form or chewed in your cheeks. The locals have been using the cocaine plant for centuries as it gives you a buzz and helps reduce altitude sickness. We finished our tea and were then served our dinner, a vegetable soup which we would be served for the next three nights. I almost fainted when we were given a casserole of boiled egg, potato and sliced hot dog meat. We all huddled in bed with as many blankets as possible and I recall our lady from Ireland asking if Sex with a Llama would count as losing your virginity. I quickly fell asleep while my body shook rapidly, cold as hell.

We were woken up at 5:30am in the pitch black of night. We had the worst sleep of life (the consensus was definite). Sarah was really hit badly by the altitude, waking up with a horrible headache and throwing up three times before we left in our Jeep for the days journey. The ground was covered in snow this morning. Unbeknownst to us we had slept through a snow storm. A local woman sat in the front seat as we drove her to the next town about 20 minutes down the road. Sarah and I stared at each other in shock as she stepped into the foot or so of snow on the ground and walked to her tiny village of three mud huts. We continued along the snow covered dirt roads and I made a point of grabbing onto Sarah’s arm. We were both terrified as we were just about to enter an insane snow blizzard.

For the next four hours our 4X4 nearly slid over cliff faces as we ploughed through two feet of snow as a blizzard of opaque white surrounded our car. I have never experienced a blizzard in my entire life as bad as the one we drove through that day. In Canada driving through a blizzard on a paved highway can be nerve racking. Imagine driving around barren cliff faces and up steep mountain paths without any sense of safety. The ambiance was perfect. Our driver put the singing songstress, Whitney Houston’s, I Will Always Love You ballad over the speakers. We nervously sang the song which gave us all an odd sense of comfort. I had my hand on the door handle readying myself for actually having to jump out quickly on the snow bank in case our jeep fell over the cliff.

Thankfully we were actually driving in a caravan today. With two jeeps in front of us and three behind. The drivers worked together, stopping the vehicles before anyone tried to drive up any steep problem areas. We actually saw several tourists walking in the blizzard outside because they felt safer walking on the side of a cliff rather than sitting in a precarious and dangerous Jeep. Martina almost died, which was rather entertaining. She screamed at the driver and insisted that she be let out of the Jeep. We spent about an hour trying to get over a fairly severe uphill cliff face (people outside were cheering each Jeep on as it sped, slipped up the precarious mountain side). Sarah jumped out of the Jeep at one point to dry heave. Poor girl her body really doesn’t take to kindly to high altitudes. On the other side of the mountain we met Martina who was muttering obscenities about how the drivers should have checked the weather forecast this morning (as if four mud huts would have a TV, radio or telephone!) We spent a few minutes in a freezing cold blizzard standing outside staring at the remains of a mining ghost town from the 1600’s. Martina, once back in the Jeep, hilariously started to rant some rather worthwhile quotes; “I’m not a religious person but I’m feeling inspired.” She also started to babble, “At least they have our passport numbers so they can contact our next of kin.” She constantly flips out and makes me laugh until my sides hurt.
She actually makes all unsafe situations seem a bit humorous.

After a horrendous four hour blizzard death defying adventure we arrived at the entrance to the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduarado Avaroa. We drove down a steep mountain zig zag styles (aka we were slamming against each other from side to side in the back seats). Once we arrived in the valley Julio hit the gas and we drove at lightening speeds. The national park has several streams, lakes and rapids which to my great shock we actually drove right through. At one point Julio drove directly into a raging river. The water from the river lapped up against the window beside me. All I could think was, “this is ridiculous and incredibly fun.” We stopped at a tiny little sand village located near the Chilean border. Half of the people walking down the street were wearing military uniforms as there is a base in town. We all sat in the Jeep freezing as our lunch was prepared. The wind was howling outside and we chatted about how lucky we were to be alive after such an insane journey this morning. We sat down and ate lunch as the sun finally bleated through the clouds. I realized my first sign of altitude sickness as I got a splitting headache and decided to leave the lunch table and lay down in the Jeep. I remember wanting to suck my thumb as I felt the Jeep swaying from side to side with the howl of wind storm surrounding my vehicle.

I took an Advil and we were all soon back in the Jeep with the Verve’s Urban Hymn album playing on my iPod over the car stereo. We drove through another amazing landscape which we described as a graveyard for rocks. Huge red boulders were precariously seated on acres of land. I can’t really put into words how varied the landscape is in Bolivia. One moment you are surrounded by what looks like Arizona and the next you are driving through an African savanna atmosphere. Not to forget the Canadian blizzard we had experienced in the morning. You never really know what to expect! We drove through the rock graveyard and sped up as we drove through a flat pancake stretch of sandy desert. We stopped the car beside a local truck which had its hood up. Their engine was apparently on the fritz. The wind was howling and the men outside had to scream at each other to communicate as it was so loud. A local woman hopped into the front seat to keep warm with her cute little one year old baby boy wrapped tightly with indigenous blankets. Julio grabbed a big metal pole and started to work on our rear right wheel. Apparently it needed changing. We were all very confused as this lasted about an hour and we were never told what was going on. We were just sitting in the back of the Jeep with a strange woman and her baby in the middle of a wind storm. At one point Selia looked a bit frustrated outside and stormed off into the desert beyond. She was walking without any purpose it seemed in the direction of about 100 km of barren wasteland. We all looked at each other and thought it surely was the end. We all chatted about the film ALIVE, the rugby players whose plane crashed in the Andes. Apparently the majority of us
would be willing to eat our friends so long as we didn’t have to kill them.

We were all finally back in the Jeep and sped off to the main attraction of the national park. People visit the park for one reason, to see flocks of beautiful pink flamingos and nine different colourful lagoons. We arrived at the famous pink lagoon which would make your jaw drop. The entire lagoon is bright pink due to the colour of the microorganisms that dwell in the shallow waters. During the summer thousands of flamingos wade in the water here snacking on the little pink bugs in the water. We drove up to the edge of the lagoon and hopped out of the car. We had spent all day on the edge of our death bed waiting to see beautiful flamingos. We hop out of the car and stare over the cloudy rather storm filled lagoon. I heard the pitter patter of hail hitting my head and then a moan and scream came from the direction of Sarah. We all looked over to her and she pointed to the ground. The beach was full of dead flamingos. Hundreds of them were lying disheveled without a heart beat in the dirty muck under our feet. It was somewhat comical as we had driven through a blizzard all day to see beautiful pink flamingos and the blizzard had actually killed them all before we could see them. We all moped about the flamingo cemetery and then perked up when we saw seven little pink figures in the center of the lagoon. All was not lost! Some of the flamingos had survived! Our jeep drove across the coarse volcanic sand, along the long pink lagoon to the small community and hostel we would be staying at that night.

Our hostel was outfitted with a roof made of corrugated metal held down by bricks, rocks and coca cola bottles. We walked through the door to enter our room and were greeted by six bed mattresses sitting on cement blocks. Three of us sat in bed freezing at 3:30pm while Martina had her biggest flip out of the entire trip. She was seething with upset. She called our bedding conditions inhumane and freaked out because our windows were cracked and didn’t have curtains. She spent a good hour or so pacing around the room as we all tried not to laugh at her outrageous behavior. We had to tell her several times that she can’t expect the same services back at home and that she was indeed living in a third world country at present. Once she finally calmed down she chirped, “getting drunk now is our only option.” She then set out on a mission to buy booze. Mind you we were in a village of about three mud huts in the middle of no where. She was first offered medicinal alcohol and she had to do a few beer guzzling actions in order to get her point across. She ended up finding a cheep bottle of red wine from Mendoza. After a short nap I walked outside to check if our dinner was ready and found a small metal trough full of piping hot embers. The rest of the evening the four of us huddled over the warm embers with much glee. Martina went crazy hanging all of her cloths over the flames in order to warm them up. Our dinner came out and we slurped our Bolivian vegetable soup and munched on mashed potatoes, grilled chicken and veggies. In a flash the embers died out and Martina freaked out. She rattled on about a Mission to find Wood. She wanted to barter with the locals for a few logs, she was so outrageously funny. We sipped on the sour wine and hopped into bed. Before we all fell asleep Sarah insisted we play a round of would you rather. One of the most creative proposed was “would you rather eat a raw onion or swallow a dill pickle whole.” These games are what one plays in -5 degree weather in the middle of the Bolivian mountains. And in moments I was snoring, much to the ladies envy.

In the morning I woke up with a horribly dry mouth. At an altitude of over 3000 meters you breath very heavily at night in order to get sufficient oxygen. This results in a disgusting dry mouth and tongue the texture of sand paper. As the girls moaned themselves awake I was told that they had horrible sleeps as there was an incredibly thunderous wind storm last night. I am so glad I slept warm like a baby and heard nothing of it! The weather blew over and our morning was full of blue sky and sun. I could see my breath when I first woke up and quickly ran to the dinner table to see what was for breakfast. Score! Hot piping fritters with dulce de leche and cocaine tea (does it get better than that at 4000 meters above sea level?) We walked out into the crisp and freezing morning air with the sun on our faces to soon realize that our hostel was in fact surrounded by a huge mountain range. It is amazing how cloudy weather can change your perspective of a landscape. We insisted that we drive back to the pink lagoon as we had very bad weather the day before (and a whole lot of dead birds at our feet). I jumped out of the jeep and ran down a hill covered in snow. I arrived at the shore and saw twenty beautiful pink flamingos wading in the water. Walking back up the hill was a rather irritating chore as one seems to forget how altitude can effect your breathing and ability to perform any sort of cardio exercise.

After a thirty minute drive through the desert we arrived at a famous rock garden (that’s the only way I can explain it). The most famous rock where all the tourists take their pictures looks like an upside down pyramid or huge looming tree. Winds over thousands of years have whittled down the rock and they all stand in awkward and sometimes unbelievable positions. We drove off after our short rock visit and drove onto a huge rolling sandy plateau. My teeth were chattering up a storm as we drove over waves of thick sand about two feet in diameter. The jeep bobbed up and down. It felt as though we were driving through a highway lined with natural speed bumps, something like a roller coaster. We drove for several hours over desert sand that looked like cracked elephant skin and rammed ourselves several times through five foot high snow banks. We drove past several Bolivian deer herds and spotted several red foxes amongst the shrubbery. Staring out at the mountains, I can best describe them as huge piles of sand and rock. They are not like the Rocky’s at all. They look a lot like huge ant hills made of pebbles. A bit terrifying knowing we were driving along the cliffs of these beasts every day.

Today was our Laguna day. We visited several lagoons throughout the national park, each a different colour! We stopped at Laguna Honda which was a bright indigo blue with the consistency of slush. At the shore I could see a white froth bubbling as the acidity of the shoreline caused the slushy water to react and bubble from beneath. Along the shore were beautiful three foot tall yellow and green wild grasses. As we walked back to the Jeep we crossed over what one would expect the moon to look like. The ground was made of crunchy white soil that looked like human brains, wild!

We ate a lunch of fried plantain, fritters and rice over a shimmering green lagoon! Martina fascinated me with her drawn out history of the Irish people. She is really a great story teller and not very fond of the IRA it seems. The four of us found ourselves sitting back in the Jeep with our bellies full listening to Bolivian folk music. We drove by a dark blue lagoon with a few pink flamingos and around 300 Llamas grazing the shore.

We were able to walk right up to them and stand inches from their snouts. Sarah took several great pictures of these awkward beasts (I decided not to chase them this time, although I was compelled to during many instances). Some of the Llamas had a huge amount of fur covering their thin little bodies. It seemed as though the wool was another life form hanging onto its back and hips. All of us got back into the Jeep and it seemed that we had lost our Irish friend. We drove around looking for her and Sarah told the driver that Martina was having sex with a Llama (with my coaxing of course). The entire Jeep was full of hysterical side splitting laughter. When we finally found Martina she opened up the Jeep and had no clue why the driver was looking at her with such an awe struck face. Sashi complained for the next few minutes about her flapping boob ache. She declared that she should have worn her sports bra during such a heaving road trip.

It seems that every time we drive over rough terrain I feel as though it is the worst we have experienced. I can say for certain that the next thirty minutes of our trip was the worst stretch of “road” that we would drive down. We drove straight down a hill that was anything but flat. Imagine a road full of boulders, jagged rocks and pot holes. I almost puked five minutes into the downhill adventure and moaned so the driver knew I was not enjoying this stretch of the trip. I badly wanted to jump out of the jeep and take a picture of the road we were heading down, simply because I didn´t think anyone would actually believe my story when I returned home. Once finished our puke inducing hell street we arrived at another phenomenal geographic landscape that looked like something out of Star Wars (you know when those little hooded scavenger men with that huge brown vehicle nab C3P0? Barren!)

We were soon told that we were surrounded by a petrified volcanic rock field. We were also sitting on the Chilean-Bolivian border and stared up at the huge active volcano that the two countries share. We got back into the car and sooner than later Martina put her ear plugs in. When I asked her what was up she responded “I can´t listen to one more second of this Bolivian electronica trash!” We were all very confused when we drove into a small town and drove through its many streets. We were certain that Julio was looking for our hostel. Then he drove out of the city and stopped the car. Turned around, and told us “That is the town of San Juan.” We thought it ridiculous as we drove through its tiny streets for over 15 minutes simply to “look at the town”, which would not impress anyone. Unless they were infatuated with row upon row of mud huts. The sun soon began to set and we sweltered in the Jeep as the heat of the sun burned our white faces.

We soon arrived in a very small town overlooking the glistening red salt flats beyond. We arrived in our room; our mattresses were placed on huge slabs of salt and our floors were covered in grainy salt. The actual hostel was entirely made of salt it seemed! We had our final, and best sleep here as the altitude less severe on our bodies and the temperature was more accommodating. Before bed I laughed really hard as Sarah stood beside the doorway to our room. Clearly the people of Bolivia are of some line of midgets as the doorway came up to her shoulders!

We were woken up at 6am in the pitch black. We all lugged our stuff outside in the freezing cold and stood by our Jeep waiting to leave for the final day of our trip. Julio turned up his stereo and Sarah and I decided to spontaneously have a pitch black, freezing cold dance party. They woke us up early so we could drive onto the salt flats as the sun rose which was incredibly beautiful. The salt flats were perfectly white and flat. We bobbed our heads in the freezing jeep interior to Aqua’s Barbie Girl. I glanced out the side window and saw our caravan spreading out into a bird like V formation. Sarah joked that it looked like a cheesy car commercial where every model drives across a desert at top speeds (as we were currently doing). Julio stopped the Jeep at the perfect moment during the instant when the sun peaked over the mountains. We could see flat white salt desert for hundreds of miles and behind us the beautiful sun rise, pink and purple on the mountains.

After a few minutes of stamping on the salt we jumped back into the Jeep and sped at top speed across the salar desert. Our next stop was hands down the most amazing site of our entire four day excursion. We arrived at a surreal island. In the middle of a salt desert sits an amazing cactus filled island. It is really weird to walk from a flat salt surface onto what would be a normal ocean beach island. It sort of makes you feel like you are walking on water. We spent about an hour walking along the island path. Thousands of cactus of all shapes and sizes can be seen across the rocky island terrain. We arrived at the perfect time as dramatic shadows from the just risen sun cast themselves across the island. Perfect for delicious photographic opportunities. Sarah and I couldn’t stop ranting about how absolutely beautiful the island was. We huffed and puffed our way to the summit of the islands central mountain and our jaws dropped as we fell onto benches out of breath. We could see across thousands of miles of salt desert. It was so trippy as one would always assume being on an island you would just look out onto wave filled oceans. The sun shines and reflects off the salt flats and blinds you instantly. At the very end of the horizon one can look out onto active volcanoes and looming mountain ranges. We spent a decent amount of time at the top. I felt the need to take a few fabulous pictures of myself jumping off boulders with the fantastical panorama behind me.

We walked down to the Jeep where Selia had made our last breakfast of the trip. We had a jug of strawberry yogurt (all yogurt in South America is the consistency of milk), cake, cereal and cocaine tea. We walked along the island and crouched down to find amazing fossils of petrified coral. The most entertaining aspect of the salt desert visit are the photographs that people take. Since the background of any photograph would be of blue sky and white salt floors you can take some really hilarious optical illusion photos. One person stands close in the foreground and holds their hand out flat while the other stands several meters behind like a statue. The result is a photo that looks like your friend is holding you in his/her hand. We also took a great shot of me pinching the air and Sarah looking like a rag doll. The result was a picture that looks like I am holding Sarah in the air by her neck. I spent about an hour with the camera timer taking pictures of myself prancing over the salt flats. Two Israeli girls (who apparently are ex soldiers) boisterously ran around to each group on the salt flats asking for our help with a picture. We all grudgingly walked over and took about thirty minutes to take a really amazing picture! They had us all sitting or standing or crouching to spell out the words ¨Happy New Year¨ in Hebrew. The picture really looks fantastic. My favorite part of the day was when three German men and a Swiss girl ran out into the desert, stripped completely naked and took ridiculous pictures of themselves in the middle of the salt flats. Butt naked is always hilarious especially on a vast ocean of salt.

After a few hours of picture fun we all got back into the Jeep and flew across the desert towards the small town of Uyuni. My favorite Martina’ism (as we now call them) is ¨Shut your noise you, and put a muzzle on that bitch.¨ I think I will secretly miss her outrageousness. Julio stopped the Jeep in the middle of the salt desert to give us a briefing on the history of the area. The Salar de Uyuni (Salt Desert of Uyuni) is on the list of earth’s natural wonders. Millions of years ago a volcano erupted and turned a salt lake into a salt desert. The heat of the volcanic eruption evaporated all of the water in the ocean and all that was left was compressed salt! He walked us over to little holes in the salt called Salt Eyes (because they close and open). I was astonished to find salt water when I looked through the little hole! We had been driving on top of a huge salt desert which actually had a lake swirling beneath. We were then told the pre-Incan myth about how the salt desert was formed. According to legend a female volcano married a male mountain named Cuzco. They had a baby together but soon everything went sour. He cheated on her with another mountain (how outrageous). The female volcano cried and cried letting her breast milk fall into the lowlands bellow. Therefore the salt flats are made up of a mourning mother’s milk and tears.

We hopped back into the Jeep and drove towards Uyuni stopping at the famous Salt Hotel. This hotel costs 20 USD a night to stay in (which is four times the normal price here). The entire hotel is made of salt. Walls, chairs, tables, beds and even the fire place! Inside the hotel lobby a little lady was selling several indigenous scarves, rugs, bags and goodies. I almost died when I saw Snickers bars for sale. I devoured mine in a few seconds. Outside the hotel is a beautiful area with a potpourri of international flags blowing in the wind. It seems like almost every nation around the world has raised their flag to say ¨we have been here.¨ As we drove closer to Uyuni we stopped at one little village to scan the market and eat lunch. We passed through the salt export docks. The area is full of three foot high salt pyramids being shoveled into trucks for bagging and export. Sarah and I walked into a store and soon realized it was a salt statue museum. The place was full of huge statues of Llamas, armadillos, flamingos and Incan iconography. Unfortunately the museum also had a creepy collection of taxidermy animals such as armadillos, flamingos and baby Llamas. We walked to the local market and scanned over a multitude of hand carved salt figurines. We all sat down for our last lunch and painfully filled out our evaluation sheet. Martina was biting her nails as we insisted certain aspects of the trip deserved an eight whereas she wanted to allot a painful three.

As we drove into the small town of Uyuni Sarah and I let out a little moan. We were planning on staying there the night and didn´t realize how barren it was. We slowly drove to the bus station and Martina let out her last memorable quote of the trip, ¨On a scale of 1-10 what do you think the safety rating should be for a playground located in the middle of this road?¨

After a quick goodbye our four day tumultuous adventure was over. Hugs all around. Sarah and I pouted as our jeep left for the long drive back to Tupiza. We waved as the dust hit our faces.



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