about me, arnaud and François crossing the ocean and the equator looking for...

30 July 2006

la quiaca, villazon,tupiza, and the 4 days trip

wawoo! it´s been a while, hasn´t it. besides this blog, I have a paper journal and so I was planning on copying what I had already written there, in here. but I´m tired,so I forgoit it in the hotel, so you´ll get the details of the beginning of the trip later. the end is still frensh and will shrotly be delivered to you.

I left you when leaving for la quiaca, so let´s pick it up there.
after finishing the mails/blogs... we went to the bus station and after having had a nice conversation with a local 6 years old - we understood everything for once!! - took a bus that sucked big time, smelled of llama y empanada. we rode all night and got to la quiaca at 0500 am and froze our asses off in the open-air bus stationn until 0700 when we went with some french we met at the bus station to cross the border. The cold is explained by the fact that la quiaca is 2500m above sea level.
the border with bolivia was easy to cross. we filled in a paper they barely lokked at and stamped our passports. that was it. thank you good bye.
villazon, the bolivian city on the other side of the border was entirely different from what we´d seen in argentina: a lot poorer, cold, and - at the bus station - the people were rather "hostile" towards us. the first impression we got of bolivia was a mitigated one : nice landscape, easy to get in, cheap but poor and hostile to tourists. we decided not to hang around (border cities are never a good choice) and we took a "apocalitpic" bus ride to tupiza, where we had been told we could hire a driver, a cook and go around the altiplano.
we got to tupiza and it didn´t take long before we found a hotel/travel agency that could put us in a 4 wheeldrive (4x4 pour les francophones) with two other chicks, a driver and a cook for the next coming three nights and four days.
awaiting the trip to begin, we went around tupiza, up the hills surrounding it and to the market to buy what they had said could be useful (biscuits, coca leafs - for altitude sickness - toilet paper - for here in bolivia, there ain´t a public toilet that has paper :) )we then went back to the hostel to drop all that, and somehow, we also dropped. we were dead tired after all the bumpy bus rides and just collapsed at 1700 :)
next day, we woke up and, after paying for the hotel and the trip, we met the two german chicas with whom we were going to do the tour (miriam and teresa). they seemed quite nice ( note I didn´t say LOOKED, but seemed). they were finishing an exchange year in argentina and werer travelling before returning home. it was nice cause we pretty much decided to speak spanish all the time - it was hard for the three of us - so my spanish improved at least that much. Our guide´s name was mario - very andin looking 30 years old guy - and the cook was his wife - delia, 30 something, fake teeth but beatiful eyes, great cook :)
first day : the trip started by us all getting in the car (what a surprise :) and going to buy a "courroie" for the engine - very reassuring. we started going up, and up, and up, and up until we reached a "mirador" where we could see al the rocky formations, the erosion of the rocks,...this was about 3000m above sea level. then we rode to our giude´s mama´s house where we had a real good lunch before stepping back in and going until 2000, only stopping a few times to see gold mines (really small, family owned ones), big rocks and a "pueblo fantasma" (ghost village-village fantome). the village´s got the sadest history a 300 people village can have ( lived happily, then were enslaved by the spanish, then refused to work in the mountain so were persecuted, then a harsh winter came and they all died.)We arrived at the hostel at 2000 and it was freezing cold (this time of the year, at this altitude, it goes from -10C during the night to +25C during the day and we had winds up to 9 Beaufort.)The accelerator thgen went nuts and we had to fix it with a little duck tape (which happened about 5 times in 4 days...we also had to push it once cause it was "in the sand" and had to buy gas from another car the last day ´cause we had ran dry :) we had a little thing to eat and a tea before we passed out in our beds and woke up for dinner at 2200. miriam was fast asleep and we didn´t wake her. francoius was a bit sick and re-painted the toilet and since there ain´t any water at that altitude, there was no way to flush it all down....we then slept REALLY well (except francois, for arnaud and I were snoring :)and woke up the next day at 0630 and after breakfast, headed for the rest of the trip.
Second day: we loaded the jeep (toyota, land cruiser), got in and went throught the deserts, all surrounded by beautiful mountains, of different colors, with snow in the background. amazing.(but you'll need to see the pictures. We then got to a green lake - laguna verde- that was breathtaking. we then ahd lunch next to a hot water spa which has a best view than the one you can EVER, EVER get from a panoramic swimming pool....so of course we went - nearly - skinny dipping. 30 degrees in, 5 outside. HEAVEN.
after this little swim, we went throught the dali desert, saw some geysers (looks amazing and stinks like sulfur), the stone tree, and a red lake - laguna colorada. it´s really no point describing for I couldn´t even render a tenth of what it looks like. I´ll try to post some pictures.
we arrived at the hotel, in front of the laguna colorada, at 0600 and went to buy some booze - not a good idea at 4000m but anyways....-and played cards until we fell asleep (2200, for all that is really tiring)
Third day: we woke up early to see the flameco´s on the red lake, but there was so much wind they had all gone already, so we went to other lakes (4 others, where we got to see some and had lunch). we then went to a small salar where the train goes. impressive but not much to see. after this, we headed for the hotel - where we got at 1900, tired and frozen. to reach the hotel, we had to go through "el paseo toun-toun, y se llama como eso porque la jeep va "tooun"-"tooun" " - basically, the toun toun way, because it´s so rocky the jeep´s jumping right and left and we even had to walk for 15 minutes ´cause it was too heavy (and a 15 minutes walk at 4000m, that´s something!!). the hotel was all made of salt ( even the room´s floors) and had a hot shower - the two other didn´t have a shower at all. we went for a walk on the "salar de uyuni" and then had dinner. we played some cards and went to bed early for we had to wake up easrluy the next day to see the sun coñe up on the salar (a white sheet of salt that´s 8000km square).
Fourth day: we saw the sun come up from the middle of the salar, and I ain´t even gonna try to describe. then we went to an island where we coiuld oversee the entire salar and saw a 1200 years old cactus ( basically like another one, but bigger.
we then took funny pictures and since I REALLY REALLY had to shit, I took a dump (and the salar is protected by the UNESCO!!!). no need to say that taking a dump in a 8000km2 is something(and that everyone can see you :). then we saw a little hostel made of salt and then arrived in UYUNI. city built for the trains but where there is only one left and isn´t really nice. we were planning on herading to potosi tonight, but the bus gets there at 0100 and we weren´t too found about arriving at night in the highest city of the world witrhout knowing anything about it...and freezing our asses!!!!
so, we are staying in uyuni for the night, and for the first time have a bit of privacy (each of us has a room!!!! :)
I´ll update later when I can, but don´t worry too much if you don´t recieve too many news, it´s just that bolivia is a little reluctant on using technology :)
cheers, nos vemos.
ps: no picture this time ´cause I can´t put the CD in and I can´t bother changing computer :)

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Just stay there, I'm comin' rightaway ...

(pour les francophones ;-))

Bougez surtout pas les gars, je prends le premier avion et je vous rejoins de suite ^^ !

Céd

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