Tuesday, March 6, 2007

24 Hours in the Life of These Intrepid Travellers

9AM Monday, March 5 to 9AM Tuesday, March 6

Get up pack and eat breakfast in preparation for our two hour boat ride from Isla del Sol to Copacabana. Put stinky clothes (we haven't had time to do laundry since Arequipa) on stinky bodies (the advertised hot water is only slightly lukewarm, and it's just too cold in the morning for a cold shower). Then climb down the 200-odd steps to get on a rickety boat with more people than should have fit. And only after borrowing 10 bolivianos from a nice Australian woman. We did not bring enough money to the island, and once we were there, we had no way to get anymore. We had studiously scrimped and pinched our money to have enough for our room, food and return trip, only to find out that it was now 30, not 20, bolivianos for us both to get back. We had 21 bolivianos and one US dollar on us.

After 1 hour layover in Copacabana, board a bus for a 4+ hour bus ride to La Paz.

Arrive in La Paz, having no idea where we are or how to get more bus tickets to Uyuni. I foolishly thought in my 'poco espanol' skills the bus conductor was saying we'd arrive at the terminal and that you could easily take a taxi to town. It was apparently the opposite. But then run into nice travel agency ladies who set us up with the nice (i.e., expensive) night bus to Uyuni, giving us about 2.5 hours in La Paz to eat, drink a beer, and decide we wished we had more time in La Paz.

Depart for Uyuni, on a 9-turned-12 hour bus ride, through a desolate landscape, on an unpaved road that had many ruts and washed out portions since this is the rainy season. During the lurching and bumping, start wondering what exactly would happen if the bus were to tip over and whether it would be better to be on the tipped side or to fall to the other side. Try and pretend to sleep instead of thinking about whether we're even on a road or not.

Arrive dazed and confused in Uyuni at 9AM the next day! Only 18 hours of travel out of 24...... This would be why I'm now referring to this leg of the trip as the 'Bolivian Sprint.'

I keep thinking night buses will be a good idea. And I'm not sure you can get to Uyuni any other way. When I first moved to Seattle, I used to take red-eye flights home for the holidays. I figured they were cheaper and I didn't lose a day to travel. After a few years, I realized that I didn't, in fact, gain any time and only ended up spending a day or so in recovery. As we did today in Uyuni.

But now we've had a well-needed day of R&R and are getting our laundry done. We wondered how long it would take to become stinky, harried travellers. Apparently only a little less than three weeks!

Tomorrow--off to the Salar, or salt desert, for a three day tour. It looks to be fascinating and surreal.

Then Chile!


Alex said...

You should try to hit up Puntas Arenas in the very soouthern tip o' chile. Also try to give Tyler some seafood, he loves it:)

Timothy said...

Hooray for smelly travellers!