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dorns’s Travel Diary

Monday, 09 May 2005

Location: potosi, Bolivia

MapHey Everyone,

We are now in Potosi, Bolivia. Its meant to be the highest city in the world at 4070m above sea level. The last week has been pretty full on. We left Santiago on the 30th and headed to La Serena, which was an eight hour bus trip. It was a ordinary town and the weather was no better so there was nothing exciting to do there, so two days later we boarded another bus for the 17hr journey to San Pedro de Atacama. For about 10hrs or maybe more we were going through some of the driest desert you could imagine. There was nothing but rock, not even sand. There was nothing at all growing.

Then all of a sudden you arrive at San Pedro which had a population of 3500 people. I think that nearly all of them relied on tourism to make a living. The building are all mud brick and the streets are all dirt. On the first day there we got up at 4am to make the 100km (2.5hr) but trip to see the guysers at sun rise. It was bloody freezing. The geisers were at 4500m and we had to stand in the steam from the geisers to warm up. It was very beautiful though. On return to San Pedro we met some people from all over the world and had a few quiets with them. The second day we went on a tour of the valley of the dead and the valley of the moon to watch the sun set. My crappy writing wouldnt do just to these places so ill try and get some photos on soon.

The next day we set off on a three day 4 wheel drive tour through the andies in Bolivia to Uyuni. This trail is a great ad for toyota landcruiser wagons. There would have to be over a hundred of them doing this trail. We must have got the second oldest one still running. The scenery on this drive was amazing and it seemed to change so rapidly. Now i dont know where i expected to see flamingos but at 4500m in the middle of the andies isnt it. There were three species of them. there are so many minerals around that the lakes and hills are all different colours. I think that the highest altitiute we got to was 4900m. Man i thought that i got tired quickly in oz. Walk 200m at that altitute and your lungs begin to burn. These tour companies have their own accomidation outside the town (if you can call them that). The first night was bloody freezing, the buildinds were not insulated of heated, you know its cold when all the locals are telling you how cold it is. We awoke the next morning to find our driver with some burning rag on a pole next the radiator of our car trying to defrost it. After 2hrs and five burnt rags we were off again. We passed lots of local farmers with their tiny blocks doing everything by hand. It quite a sight when you are used to everything being so mechanical.

The second night we stayed in a hotel made from salt. The walls were blocks of salt and the floor was covered in rock salt. The bed bases were also salt. The view from the window was of a massive salt plain. Disaster struck at 3am the next morning. I was struck with a bad case of Bolivian belly, i didnt know which way to face in the toilet. The final day wasnt much fun at all. We saw alot of salt. The salt mines, i know what they mean when they say back to the salt mines. They shovel the salt into piles so that most of the water runs out. Then they shovel it into 20t trucks, which take it back to the village and dump it out so they can shovel it into bags (F@#% that). Labour must be very cheap. THat night we stayed in Uyuni which is a dirty little town in the middle of nowhere. We caught the first bus out of there this morning to potosi. Thats where we are up to. Ill try and put some pic on to so youwhat we have seen. My photography isnt that great though but its better that my writing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

chao Dorns