Friday, June 8, 2007

Bolivia - La Paz and the Salar de Uyuni

As I crossed the border into Bolivia, there was a spirited game of soccer going on between the military guards and a mixed group of border crossers. The guards declared that immigration office would not resume it´s activities until the game was over! The military won the game. And one hour later they started stamping passports again. Ahh, Bolivia.

La Paz was the next stop. La Paz is the highest capital in the world, sitting at 3,800 m. above sea level. It is quite cold! I was a bit unprepared after spending much of the last two months on the coast, and quickly accumulated an ecclectic array of warmer clothes (but the sandals are staying!) In La Paz I walked all over the city (at a snails pace due to the elevation), and loved going through the many many many street markets. There is a witch´s market as well, where they sell teas for every type of affliction, love potions, talisman, dried-up llama fetuses, among other quirky things. I ate too many things off the street vendors, including some sketchy tongue meat that wasn´t quite cooked through...and of course the next day I found myself sick as a dog. A combination of food and alcohol poisoning I believe, and I was out of commition for a good day. Luckily, Kristen (from Minneapolis!) met me in La Paz, and she helped me to get on our scheduled overnight bus to Uyuni. (Without her, I would have shriveled up and missed out on a lot!)









The Salar de Uyuni, the world´s largest salt flat, was created when the prehistoric lake of Minchin dried up 40,000 years ago. It is estimated to contain 64,000 million tons of salt! I went on a 3-day tour of the area, which besides the salt flat proper included many amazing natural formations! It would make for a most complex lesson in geology. We visited the Isla de los Pescadores, an island covered with cactuses. We saw two Lagoons, the LagunaVerde and the Laguna Colorada, named for their respective colors. There were many unique rock formations and colorings, created from a mixture of strong winds and volcanic activity. Lastly, we saw geysers and had the chance to soak our cold bodies in thermal baths at an altitude of 5,000 m.! All in all the trip was excellent, and I was happy to survive the altitude headaches and temperatures as low as 0 degrees F.




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