|Oh my god I just lost EVERYTHING I just wrote!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arghhhhh it's friggin San Pedro I'm telling you!! This place is eeeevil!!!!!
Okay, to retell the story (which was probably boring to begin with and won't be any better a second time round), I must confess, I didn't really go to the moon. No shit? No shit. But I really do want a pet flamingo! Provided it is pink... But I'll get to that.
Wednesday I headed off with a lovely group consisting of a Belgian couple, a French girl and a Swiss couple to the south of Bolivia, where rests some of the most incredible amazing scenery I have ever seen in my life. If only I had a proper camera... The group wasn't quite what as I was expecting as I had specifically booked to be with two other Aussies and two Kiwis for some Australasian fun (the tour agency screwed me several times) but they turned out to be fun - we had one particular silly conversation when we discussed the prospects of a best-seller about how flamingoes feel about being pink from a feminist perspective and whether one day they will start to charge for photos a la people in Cusco.
First day we headed into the salt plains, these massive expanses of salt that stretch for kilometres and kilometres. They look kinda like a melange (how's that for a word!) of sand and snow. I kept expecting to catch a glimpse of the beach... Well no that would be stupid but it did look like sand.
I saw how the locals take this salt and refine it into the salt that we use to sprinkle on our potatoes. Sounds boring but it wasn't, I promise!
We then headed to Fish Island. Don't let the name fool you - it's not really an island as such and there are no fish. It's this small mountain in the middle of the salt plains (which actually have a whole lot of water under them so maybe it can be called an island) and there are certainly no fish in sight. In fact, it was covered with all these random crazy cacti. So perhaps Cactus Island would have been a better name? Or even Cactus Mountain? Just a thought Bolivia....
But they were so weird, still have no idea why they grow there seeings as the guide wasn't big on explanations (he'd been doing the same trip twice a week for six years. I think I can understand why we'd arrive somewhere and he'd say 'you have ten minutes to take photos' then we'd get back in the car and continue on our merry way). So if anyone can help me out...?
Stayed that night in a little town that had even more going on than Uyuni. And by more I mean less. There was this really annoying little kid who lives there with his parents. I accidentally pushed him over (it was an accident, I swear!!), he started screaming at the top of his lungs so I swooped him up and bounced him on my lap to soothe him. He stopped crying within literally about 1.5 seconds so he clearly wasn't even hurt (thanks for making me look bad!). But after that he took quite a liking to me and even brushed off my trackies which he found too dusty and tried to use all my sunscreen.
While on the subject of kids, the guide had brought along his wife to be the cook and his daughter, just to be cute. They already had a four-year old (who stayed at home with a nanny. A bit sad really) and then Natalie, the little girl, only 1 year 8 months I think, and they were only 22 and 23 years old! The women here age sooo badly - Wilma (I think that was her name) looked at least 30! We were trying to figure out why the women here are so rotund when the men are often so skinny and we figured that it might have something to do with them having children so young and then never losing the weight again. Also, the men probably do a lot more physical labour.
Another thing we noticed, was that kids here mature so much slower. Natalie, for example, was still breastfeeding. And they don't start talking until much much later than Western kids - I don't think I've heard a kid younger than about 4 speak.
Anyway, next day we headed to an active volcano which was where I felt that I was on the moon with all these arid crazily-shaped land and big crater-looking areas. The volcano was spouting a bit of steam but no lava unfortunately.
Also saw lots and lots of lakes - a couple just had literally hundreds of pink flamingos! And a couple of white but they were boooooring and I didn't take pictures of them. But these flamingos were just amazing! Too bad I couldn't get close at all and my ol disposable camera doesn't exactly come complete with zoom... But I wanted to take one home with me. Though I have a feeling that, even though they're such a pretty colour, they look kinda angry when you see them up-close.
We also saw the most incredible view I've ever seen - this vibrant red lake with long splashes of white running through (thanks to the salt and other minerals) backed by snow-capped mountains and volcanoes. I was so frustrated that I didn't have my camera so hopefully my photo will come out okay and I'll be able to get it blown up. As in enlarged in case you thought I was a pyro.
That night we all slept together in a little room. Cosy. We woke up at 4am (well, the others did. In my lazy-ass style, I waited until almost 4.30 when Ben, one of the Swissies, poked me viciously until I got up) and set off in the dark to get the best view of these amazing geysers - big spurts of water and steam. I didn't really understand why at the time (yes, again, may have had something to do with the lack of explanations and the fact that my Spanish is still pretty dodgy) but after later research (ie. dictionary.com, I recommend it especially when wanting to sound clever when writing travel blogs. Kidding, all this is 100% Ange baby) I found that they occur when surface water seeps through the ground until meeting heated rocks which then created a spurting into the air. We had to see them in the morning because that's when there's the greatest difference in the two temperatures. The other girlies stayed warm in the car but myself, Pablo the Belge and Ben the Swiss braved the freezing cold to inspect the geysers closer and take some snaps. And by god the geysers were worth it! The ground all bubbles like crazy and then there are these huge spurts coming out! It's so cool!!
We then trucked on to the natural thermal springs where the combination of the time, around 6am, and the outside temperature, dunno but probs around 5 degrees, left us questioning whether hot springs would really be worth stripping off. Eventually though, I let the nudist in me take over (kidding, I was wearing my little green bathers) and I tore off my clothes, soon followed by the Swissies. And my good lord!!!!! They were so so warm and beautiful and peaceful and relaxing - it was easily the highlight of the trip (along with the red lake). I could have stayed in there forever but eventually they got too HOT for me and I hopped out to go to breakfast. Just in time because hordes more of tourists soon arrived to have a splish splash also.
We breakfasted on rolls and Vaginamite (which Ben had acquired quite a taste for in past travels to Australia and was more than happy to steal a little from the travel tube Kristiano's parents very very kindly sent to me) while enviously watching the other tourist groups eat cake, scrambled eggs and CornFlakes. Where was ours Juan??! (Yes, that's two of my guides to be named Juan now. Out of three. Let's have some creativity!!)
Headed to the Chilean border where the group split - myself and the Swisses heading to San Pedro just in the border of Chile, and the others going back to the excitement of Uyuni.
Caught bus to San Pedro where I chilled with this English chap Ben. I really put my foot in it when I said that you know you're old when you have a mortgage (sorry Dad but it might be true...) and he said that he must have been beyond old because he'd already had a mortgage and then sold his house to go travelling. Oops....
Dinner was interesting as we had no money and no way of getting any from an ATM as the only one in town doesn't accept Visa (grrrrrrrrrr, who doesn't accept Visa??! Clearly this town's shite...). Finally managed to scrape together enough moolah and gave it to the weirdo wacked waiter. Everyone here is seriously wacked on drugs - it's like a dustier beachless version of Byron except with coke instead of weed. And less to do. And overpriced EVERYTHING. And buses that leave to Argentina only twice a week leaving poor Australian girls stranded for two days. Arrrrrrghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!