When you enter bolivia, you really get into a different time. The landscapes are uniques, the people look different. Both are forged with the high altitudes, extreme weather conditions and simple life. We started our trip in Bolivia with a 3 days 4×4 trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni with a nice bunch of people. That was a succession of deserts, lagoons, geysers, mud pools, salt lakes, lamas, flamingos, colourful mountains, open cemeteries with mummies… All this in the altiplano, lying at 5000 metres and beyond. Despite the fact that this place is supposed to be the driest place in the world, we had ice and snow (something that didn’t happen for the last 65 years!). We slept in a hotel made of salt blocks, nice but not very isolating, while you need it when it is freezing cold outside! At least the clear skies allowed me to test our camera for some nice astronomical pictures. The climax of the trip was supposed to be the salar de Uyuni, where the Dakar race will go through this year, but due to the season and the previous days’ bad weather, it was not as immaculate white and reflective as we can sometimes see. Not a disappointment though because it remained impressive to do hundreds of kilometers on pure salt. Having a mechanical problem in the middle of it, alone, was quite a souvenir as well…
We were pretty lucky after because a strike started in the village of Uyuni a few hours after we took a bus to leave to the nice colonial style and chill-out Sucre city. Indeed the locals complained about how hard it is to travel in their country as the buses don’t really have fixed schedules. Eventhough it was not the first country at all where we saw that people were waiting anywhere on the roads to grab a bus, I can imagine it is far from practical. To be thorough, they were also on strike to move the bus station outside of the city in order to be able to charge people a taxi ride, which is a bit less noble…
We had to make an unforeseen stop in Potosi. It was a real pleasure to see the so colorful outfits of the locals. And it was not just for tourists, it’s their actual life-style. It was not easy to take snapshots of them as, being a beginner photographer, I still ask for permission… and there were sadly often very shy.
Once in Sucre, we decided to settle down a bit, that is not moving for at least 2 days.., so we took the chance to take spanish courses as it was very very cheap and bolivia is known to have one of the most comprehensive spanish in south america. So here we are, being able to finish the blog in spanish now… but just for you, we will stick to english! It was funny to see the rivalry between Sucre people and La Paz people about which city is the “real” capital. A subject that hasn’t found a definitive answer yet.. Something for sure, Sucre is much more pleasing than La Paz. The latter being much less interesting and colder as it is very high again. Eventhough it is nicely located inside and along mountains. The fact that claudia caught salmonella and that I had to get a tooth surgery because of the height didn’t help either… There we found the limit of the cheap food… But we had the chance to acknowledge a national party which was really impressive : during 2 days almost non stop, thousands of disguised groups were dancing in the streets, making the show for the locals that were renting chairs in order to watch AND drink all day. We were given beer by locals and even invited to dance with them, the result was.. special!
When we finally got out of La Paz, we ran out of time to go to the jungle nearby but we still had the chance to go to the “real” Copacabana, the village touching the huge titicaca lake and not the beach in Rio de Janeiro. There we did a loooooong excursion on the beautiful Isla del Sol.
Again, we survived crazy bus rides and that led us to our before last destination : Peru!