I will start out by apologizing for the lack of blog posts last week. After we got home from our trip this past weekend, we found out that the wifi at our apartment is down (and things don’t seem to get fixed very quickly around here). We have tried at least 5 places around our neighborhood that advertise that they have wifi, but none of them worked. We FINALLY found a cafe downtown close to our Spanish class that has wifi…still slow but at least functional! Judithe and I did neonatology this week- more on that next blog.
The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes ever from one of the best Pixar movies (in my opinion), Up. We definitely experienced that quote this past weekend! We had so much fun on our trip to Salar de Uyuni. This will probably be a long post so just warning you ahead of time! So many cool things/pictures to share. We left super early in the morning, at 5 am in the pouring rain, caught a taxi to the La Paz bus station, and took a 3 hour bus ride to another city called Oruro. We arrived to Oruro around 9:30 a.m. and shopped in the local market, walked around the city, and ate lunch at a delicious restaurant called Restaurante Nayjama. We bought a huge bottle of water for the weekend and headed to the train station, where we took a 7 hour train ride to Uyuni which is in southern Bolivia. So fun to ride a real, old fashioned train!
We arrived to Uyuni around 9:30 p.m., where a lady from the tour company we travelled with met us at the train station to take us to our hotel. Judithe and I shared a room, and Amina had her own room.
Saturday morning, we woke up nice and early to take a hot shower (which is impressive here…we were so excited to have hot water. Not that common!). That was the only one we got all weekend because it cost money to take showers at the other hotels, and who wants to waste money on cleanliness?! So we roughed it 😉 We ate breakfast at a cute and super cheap restaurant near our hotel called Breakfast Noni’s. There are lots of stray dogs everywhere in Bolivia and Uyuni is no exception. There was an adorable little dog who followed us around Uyuni all morning. When we stopped to take pictures, he would stop and wait for us. I would love to take him home with me!! I named him Maxcito haha.
Our tour left at 10:30 am Saturday morning. We traveled with a tour company called Empexsa (which I would highly recommend if any of you plan to visit here in the future). Our tour group had 6 people- a married couple from Bolivia, a girl from France who took a year off to travel around South America, and Amina, Judithe and me. And of course our guide, Milton (who also happened to be our driver, mechanic, chef, and photographer haha). The first stop
on the tour was a train cemetery, where antique trains are kept. Our guide told us that these trains used to run on carbon and water, and when newer versions of the trains came out, they had no use for these trains anymore so they now sit in a “cemetery”. I enjoyed seeing all the trains as well as climbing on them 🙂
Our next stop was Salar de Uyuni, aka the salt flats. It was SPECTACULAR to see. Prior to entering the salt flats, we went to a city called Colchani, where the salt from the salt flats is processed (and of course there were souvenirs made totally out of salt). We first went to the “salt pyramids” which were really just mounds of salt. We ate lunch out of the back of our vehicle outside of a salt hotel on the salt flats. We had llama and quinoa for lunch. The llama was really good! We also visited an “island” in the middle of the salt flats where they had HUGE cacti growing. The type of cactus here only grows 1 cm a year. Our group hiked up to the top of the island. Again…spectacular views. Pictures don’t do it justice! I will definitely upload pictures later for you to see. This is probably one of the most stunning/weirdest landscapes I have ever seen before. The majority of the world’s lithium comes from this area (a fun fact for you, dad).
Saturday night we stayed in a salt hotel, where literally everything (except the mattress and pillow thankfully haha) is made of salt. So neat! It was fun to sit around and talk with our group before dinner- we all got along really well. The girl from France, Louise, was so fun. She spoke English, French AND Spanish- pretty impressive.
Sunday morning, we ate breakfast at the salt hotel and headed to several lagoons even farther south. We also got to see the border of Chile. And maybe my favorite part of the trip…seeing wild flamingos in the lagoons!! We also drove through the Sitoli desert, which was awesome (and long, because there was nowhere to use the restroom ha). While our first day was pretty hot, the second day was freezing. It even started snowing in the desert (a pretty weird site to see). Another fun part of the day was the Stone tree. There are volcanoes in the area that leave all kinds of cool rock formations. I couldn’t stop taking pictures! I also loved climbing all the rocks 🙂 I never encountered a paved road the whole weekend, so it was a lot of bumpy rides (I usually don’t have a problem with motion sickness but sometimes did on this trip).
A highlight of the day for me was the Red Lagoon, where a lot of borax comes from (that is another fun fact for you, dad). Also tons of wild flamingos!! TONS. We stayed in a hotel near the Red Lagoon in the national park, where our group slept in one room. As a side note, it was still at freezing temperatures the last night and last day….SO. COLD. But we persevered and still had a great time. Judithe, Louise and I took a small hike in the national park but mostly sat by the fire in our hotel and played pictionary the whole night. Amazing how creative you can be with no phone service and no wifi to distract you! We had so much fun.
The last day of our tour, we got up at 4 am so we could have breakfast and leave by 5 am in order to see everything before starting the long drive hack to Uyuni. I was really sick this morning and was afraid that the day would be slightly miserable (no bathrooms really, out in the boonies) but it turned out to be a great day! I started feeling better by mid-morning. Cipro does wonders and just may be my new favorite drug! We saw geysers early in the morning and later got to swim in a hot springs. I didn’t get all the way in since I had not been feeling too well but dipped my feet in. It felt great! It was 32F outside but the water in the hot springs felt lovely. We were at the hot springs during sunrise, and there were mountains all around. Beautiful!
After the hot springs, we drove to another lagoon (Laguna Verde- the green lagoon), which was also gorgeous but sadly no flamingos. Our guide said this lagoon is naturally toxic. We dropped Lousie off at the Chilean border since she was traveling on to Chile, and then drove back to Uyuni. We saw many wild vicuñas (which look kind of like llamas) and llamas along the way. We also stopped at the Valley of the Rocks…where I of course climbed more rocks. We got hack to Uyuni around 5:30 in the evening and went to the bus station, where we caught an overnight bus back to La Paz. We got into La Paz around 6:30, caught a taxi back to our apartment, showered (after 3 days haha), and rushed off to the hospital for a new week of clinicals! Overall an INCREDIBLE
experience. Trips like these, where I get to see so many beautiful things in nature, always leave me in awe of my Creator and His creation. So intricate, unique, and fun!