Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bolivia - Copacabana to Uyuni

Leaving on the 13.30h bus from Copacabana to La Paz, we also purchase onward tickets to Uyuni and are told we will have 3hrs to wait in La Paz. No problem, enough time to have dinner and get supplies for the journey. We pay extra for a tourist bus which is more comfortable than the local Bolivian buses and has an on board toilet. However, upon arrival in La Paz we are told that the bus we should get is not leaving because of the rain (even though it was not raining). We have 5 minutes to board a local bus to Uyuni, or else spend the night in La Paz. Deciding to get the local bus, we are assured by the bus company that the driver makes adequate bathroom stops en route an that the journey will take 12hrs. In Bolivia you just have to believe what you are told, beacuse disputing it will get you nowhere... A lesson quickly learned.

What really happened: the bus breaks down 4 times during the journey and at one point we are stuck for almost 5 hours in the desert. Of course no one bothers to inform the passengers what is happening (about 30 people, primarily foreigners). At one point I am even assisting the the mechanic to hold parts of the engine, while he bangs away at it furiously. Eventually we reach Uyuni after a mammoth 25 hour journey along unpaved roads, completely destroyed and realising the way Bolivia functions (or not).

We check in to a hostel and go looking for a 2 day tour into the salt flats.