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Four-Wheelin' Bumpy Bolivian Bus

BOLIVIA | Wednesday, 5 December 2007 | Views [949]

We decided to splurge on our nights bus today, 10 hours, from La Paz to the desolate town of Uyuni.  Todo Turismo has the best reputation, so for $25 per person, we get reclining seats, and a bus with heat.  The ride goes up over 5,000m and overnight busses in this region without head will freeze all their passengers.  So we board with our friends Valerie and Bas.  From the seat backs hang Merry Christmas decorations, and our on board host, Mr. Smiley, dishes out our hot cooked dinner; chicken, rice and veggie similar-to-plane meal.  We are served and Mr. Smiley clears our trash all n 15 minutes before the bus actually leaves the station.  We now understand why they served us dinner before the bus started moving.  After maybe one hour of relatively smooth, yet very curvy paved roads, the ride turns to washboard terrain.  At one point in the ride, one of the overhead TV's falls out of it's hanging holster onto a passenger below.  Forget using the bathroom... no only are there no handles to hold on to, but the group of very drunk guys from the UK have made a complete mess of it, and it's worse than your most frightening bathroom memory from frat parties in college.  We stop every few hours for the driver to check the tires.  We continue to bounce in and out of our seats for the ten hours, and I think our internal organs are no longer in their proper spots.
When the sun arises in the early morning hours we peer out at the eerie desert landscape.  We stop and a woman boards and serves us breakfast... a box of apple juice and a snack packet of oreo cookies. Nourishment!  We hand over our wrappers and empty juice boxes and we proceed to turn the corner into town where the bus stops... apparently we are at our destination, 30 seconds after finishing our fine breakfast.  We disembark into an empty, dusty ghost town road.  It's 7:00 a.m. and we had prearranged our Salar de Uyuni tour with a local company who has a taxi waiting to pick us up, and takes us all of the half mile to the company office.  We quickly register and pay our $100 fee for the three day, two night trip, and pass a couple hours strolling through the local market that's beginning to open up, chock full of Christmas decorations and gifts.  Hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner now.  Finally, 9:30 a.m., and the immigration office has opened up, we walk through the line to get our exit stamps imprinted in our passports so not to get fined for overstaying our days once we reach the border of Chile in a few days.  It's hit or miss if you can really get your exit stamp at the border of Bolivia and Chile or not, so we clear through the process in advance of arriving.  We're all set now for our big adventure.

Tags: On the Road

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