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Patricia Stanton’s Travel Diary

Monday, 09 May 2005

Location: Potosi, Bolivia

MapHola Amigos...
So I find myself in potosi at the moment. The highest city in the world (4070m) and a big mining community. It has been quite the journey to get here from Santiago.

First we jumped on a bus and headed to beautiful La Serrena. It reads as the Surfer´s Paradise of Chile, in reality it is raniny, cold and cloudy... a lovely trifecta. As such we got out of there as quickly as possible, after a very long day waiting for the 10.45pm bus to San Pedro. Some of the highlights of our time wasting day include looking at everything in the biggest supermarket I have ever seen (you can buy groceries, clothes, computers, TVs and more varieties of cheese than i knew existed!) and hanging at the mall playing with bouncing balls (all fun until they went in the fountain!)

The bus to San Pedro was 18 hours long, and surprisingly comfortable. Sleeping was perfectly acceptable as the scenery didn't change one bit... rocks and dirt and more rocks as we drove through the Atacama, the driest desert in the world. It is a small town (3200 people) but very nice. It exists purely to meet the needs of tourists and reminded me of a mini byron - in the middle of the desert. From here we saw the giesers and the valley of the moon for sunset, both very spectacular.

Next step was getting to Bolivia. We decided on the three day 4WD tour through the desert. Obviously we opted for the cheapest tour agency, as such we had the most authentic vechicle and got to witness some bush mechanic work Bolivian style. We should have had second thoughts when no sooner had we piled in the vechicle on the first day than we pulled over to ask another car for some help filling the tyre.

The mechinical problems continued, with the guide pointing out alleged sights, so that we could stop and he could have a tinker under the bonnet. On the second morning, after spending the night in the coldest place i have ever imagined existed (throughout the night hearing Alison´s warning of ¨The Sleeping bag doesn´t work so good below zero¨), we waited for two hours while the car had some work done on it. A hole in the radiator was the final diagnosis, which was quickly patched up. The only problem left was melting the ice in the radiator... obvious solution was to light a rag soaked in fuel on the end of a stick and stick it straight in the engine!

All in all we saw thermal springs, more geisers, falmingos (call me stupid but I never knew that flamingos lived at 4000 m above sea level in freezing conditions!) lots of dirt and rocks, more flamingos, a 12m cactus, the salt falts of Uranyi and stayed in a hotel made of salt. All were amazing, and damn cold!!!!

After a 6 hour bus trip (that covered a massive 213km) we are staying put in the highest city in the world to take in the beauty of the mines on the hill - also known as we have 10.5kgs of washing between us and i think the Bolivian food could be working the magic on our stomachs that the lonely planet promises!!!

Will put some photos on soon...
tata now!!!
Patricia