South America: On the way to Uyuni
Last Summer I went to South America with 5 other friends. We visited Peru and Bolivia for 4 weeks and then crossed the boarder to Brazil to go straight to Rio for a few days of rest on the beach.
Yesterday at dinner Dómi and I had a lot of fun remembering our bus trip to Uyuni, it was scary then and, now that time has passed, it’s just really funny.
|La Paz, Bolivia|
We were couchsurfing in La Paz, Bolivia, with this nice couple, Martin and Sisi, who gave us the keys to their second apartment so we could stay there as long as we wanted. While we were there we decided to go down the World’s Most Dangerous Road, also known as Carretera de La Muerte, on a bike. It was extremely narrow and the whole time we were biking, we had a huge cliff by our side reminding us not to fall. It was very dangerous and we were obviously naive enough to think that we could rent the cheapest bikes (without any brakes!).
By the time we were halfway through it, Dómi had already fallen off her bike, which was very likely to happen considering that she didn’t really know how to bike, and Sophia had dislocated her shoulder, which we didn’t know yet. The rest of us were fine and we had a lot of fun.
We got back to La Paz completely exhausted but we had a full day to recover and then catch the bus to Uyuni, the famous salt desert. This was the point when the problems begun. We probably ate something that made us all stomach sick, some of us were vomiting, others had other problems, which you can deduce. Imagine all this with the aggravating factor of the 4000 meters of altitude we were at, which made us feel even sicker and really messed up our stomachs.
Martin took us to the hospital and we got a bunch of pills for the “Altitude disease” (that’s actually how they called it). This was when we learned that Sophia had her shoulder fucked up and she would need surgery as soon as possible. We decided not to trust the doctor and go to Uyuni anyway. After all, it’s the desert of salt and she couldn’t leave Bolivia without seeing it.
So we got on the bus. Big mistake! 4 out of 6 were sick (really sick by the way) and one had a bandaged arm. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the bus trip from La Paz to Uyuni is known for having the worst roads ever, which was perfect because Sophia couldn’t move her arm and the bus was shaking at every second.
Anyway, 6 sick girls on a 10-hour bus driving through windy roads was evidently destined to be a disaster. At some point, after several hours making rounds to the toilet, a passenger told Sofia that our friend Eva was fainted on the the bus floor. We just burst out laughing. We obviously thought they were messing with us. We knew Eva was lying on the bus floor but we though she just needed to lie down. Turns out, she really had fainted and not only we didn’t notice but we were laughing about it!
The other tourists didn’t think it was funny and told the bus driver to pull over immediately. At the moment we had already realized that the situation was serious and that it was actually happening. We got really scared! We stopped in Oruro, the only town before the several hours left to arrive in Uyuni. Oruro was a deserted scary town that didn’t even had a hospital. Apparently it was 4 am when we got there so we found a place to crash and went to some kind of clinic on the next day.
The next day we woke up a little better, went to the clinic, bought some more pills and finally caught the train to Uyuni, which was much more civilized than the bus.
|Happy again, on the train to Uyuni|
We all laughed like crazy, mostly because how ridiculous and random the situation was. It was a funny story to bring back home. Lesson taken: Be careful with what you eat and rent bikes with real brakes!!!!
|Sunset from the train|