Monday, 9 September 2013

High altitude - hola pinche gringo.

I'm writing this blog entry from a room in a hostel made entirely of salt. I'm wearing a beanie, 3 jumpers, a coat, 2 pairs of socks and have just removed my alpaca gloves in order to properly type out my story. Oh yeah, I'm also under the covers in bed. I am cold now but tonight it will reach -14 degrees Celsius. The last few days have been nothing short of amazing. I'm going to skip the top end of Argentina because I'm heading back there towards the end of my trip.

So! The last 3 days I have been traveling Bolivia by jeep. I arrived in a desert town called uyuni, which is a 10 hour journey from the Bolivian/Argentina border. Uyuni is quite cool. Its a quaint town where the people smile and listen to the music being pumped through amplifiers in the center of town. A guide notices me waltzing around town with a smarmy grin on my face, sussing out whether I will find a hostel for the night. I feel bad for forgetting his name but he was all class. I was shown where the best and only working atm machine was, where I could use WiFi and also a nice cheap Mexican/Italian restaurant. I decided to book the tour of the salt flats through the guide.

I devoured some burritos and fell asleep in a cheap hostel without a shower. In the morning around 10, I loaded my stuff into an old faithful jeep that looked as though it had been rolled several times and dipped in a vat of dust and oil. First stop were the salt flats. Once a prehistoric ocean spanning 12,000km, the years had dried up the water leaving expansive salt flats. I took some photos using the salt flats as a backdrop which allowed me to play with perspective and shoot some wicked film. I wasn't aware that Bolivia had such diverse landscapes. Throughout the last two days I've seen volcano's, train graveyards, green lagoons covered with ice, sandy deserts, huge rock formations and blood red lagoons populated by flamingos searching for food. I also chased a pack of llamas, did some rock climbing and took pictures of snow covered mountain peaks. All of these incredible locations are within about 80km of each other. Tomorrow I'm up at 5am to climb to 4850ft where I will witness the geysers before sunrise. The air is thin and it can be hard to breathe at times but I already feel my body adjusting.

Bolivia is fantastic. The people are friendly and helpful and love to share the experience of their country. I'm looking forward to catching the bus to sucrae where I will stay for a week and eat llama and practice my Spanish. I've taken many photos but am still unable to upload them without a proper desktop computer so the photos are all courtesy of my Australian friend, Vicky.


  1. Wow Mitch, and wow! That all sounds amazing! And cold!
    Food sounds fantastic as well. Can't wait til you get home and make some empanadas for us. With Malbec. Mum

  2. This is amazing, Mitch. I just found out about the salt flats and the hotel a few weeks ago. It was a prompt for a poetry challenge, so I wrote a poem about it on my blog.
    I must have missed some of your travels because all of a sudden you're in the southern hemisphere again. Be sure to make empanadas for your mother when you get home!
    —Kay, Alberta, Canada

  3. I'm really impressed with your experiences or am I just jealous
    Just amazing.
    Leaping Leon