4/23/10: Southwest Circuit, Bolivia
The sun hadn’t come up yet and we were cruising along at over 60 mph. Jesus flicked off his headlights and just drove. We couldn’t see a thing in front of us, but it didn’t matter – we were traveling over 4,600 square miles of nothing but flat salt. There wasn’t a car, or anything else for that matter, for as far as the eye could see (please forgive this cliché, especially since it was dark at the time and the eye couldn’t see all that far).
When the sun finally rose in the horizon, here’s what we saw:
I was actually hoping that we would camp out in that exact spot for the entire day, but unfortunately breakfast called. We sped over the endless sea of salt until we approached a somewhat large brown island that wouldn’t have seemed more out of place if it were situated in the middle of a New York City street. “How many minutes do you think it will take to get there?” I asked Zhou. She guessed five, even though it appeared that I could throw salt over my left shoulder and hit the island. But the lack of depth perception here (for everyone, not just us one-eyed folk) can really play games with you – it took us 12 minutes.
Scattered about this giant plain of salt are over 30 islands, Incahuasi (pictured) being the most famous. The small piece of land is covered in thousands of cacti, as well as a tiny village which includes a hotel. I suppose I’ve seen more random things in my life (Leon Lett sliding out of nowhere to touch Miami’s missed field goal 17 years ago), but definitely not many.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the salt flats, including punching our fists in soft spots in the salt to find deep holes of water and crystals underneath. It amazed us that you could drive a car over these holes without any problem, but then we heard a rumor that a few years ago an Argentine family’s car fell right through.
Without a doubt, the Salar de Uyuni will go down as one of my favorite stops on our trip. It is so unlike anything I’ve ever seen even though it’s made up of things I see and eat every day. Come to think of it, the only thing that may be able to top it would be a chili dog flat, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.
Ohio Picture: Zhou and I are very uncomfortable making the O’s, but the cacti just wouldn’t agree to do anything but the H and the I.
Pictures of the Day: You’d think touring the Salar would take all day, but no – there was still time to clown around in the train cemetery!