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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Salt Flats and more

Today we left Calama almost as soon as we arrived. We decided to go ahead and catch a bus to San Pedro (which is one step closer to Salar de Uyuni The salt desert in Bolivia which is supposed to be absolutely amazing and we are really exciting to go see some of largest salt flats in the world. Our bus journey from Calama was only 1.5 hours and only costs us five American Dollars. This bus actually had Air Conditioning so that was great. It was a really good ride and we got to see an amazing sunset as we drove thru the mountains that is one view I won't forget.

San Pedro is a really neat city with tons of shops and cool stuff and lots of neat old architecture. It even has a plaza dating back to the old days! We are staying at a really cool family owned hostel in the middle of nowhere (the view of the stars here is pretty awesome) they seem really nice and only charged us 10 USD per night for a really good clean room and we hot water in our shower! (a luxury here and toilet paper is included!) for 10 bucks back in New Zealand you couldn't get any accommodation!

Ben and I had a good beer and a relaxing time at a neat cafe that had an open fire pit and we just discussed life and our plans and just reflected on the past year and half (it has been a great ride!) both of us are really going to miss this traveling once we have to finally go home. Being travels we really have less strings than most people, you know we can go where we want,when we want, with who we want and if we don't like a place we just move.

That is something not to take for granted but even traveling sometimes you just need a little time to relax and take a break just exactly what we did tonight. When you travel the world as I have you tend to see lots and lots of amazing stuff all over so I have to remember to keep myself grounded and realise that what I am seeing is amazing (sometimes even once in a lifetime stuff) and I have to realise that I am super lucky to see it all and not grow dull to amazing stuff or take it for granted. Even sometimes you just zone out and totally live for that moment only and just forget everything in the world except what is happening at that exact moment. That is really one of the things I will miss most when I am back at home. Tomorrow we are going to explore the city and study more Spanish and book our tour to the salt desert.

We got our tour booked for the salt flats and it looks amazing! We also managed to meet up with some friends of ours that we randomly met on the plane ride over to Chile from New Zealand and now we have randomly met them again so it looks like all of us will be heading into Bolivia together which is good :) Bolivia is supposed to be a really cheap country (which is good for me as Chile is fairly expensive by South American standards) but, Bolivia just like Chile and Argentina charge me 140 American dollars just for entering only because America charges that fee to them to enter. Sometimes I hate our govt. and their fees! It sucks for me as a traveler! :( Ben has to pay nothing :( But it will be fun anyway. I have had some great meals so far of stuff I would normally never touch and my Spanish is improving slowly. I have also become a huge fan of the natural fruit juices they have here in Chile. They are freshly made and cheap and they taste amazing! Tomorrow at 8 am we leave for our tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats. It should be a great time and I can't wait for the amazing pictures!

Our tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats was amazing! It was extremely touristy (you know stop here for a few photos then move on) but I still really enjoyed myself and there was so many amazing things to see and do. Our guide didn't speak a lick of English but luckily for us we had a guy in our group who was totally fluent in Spanish. We got to see “The Rock Valley” which was thousands and thousands of rocks just seemingly dropped into the middle of desert but it was all natural! It was really fun scrambling all over them and I got some good pictures which I will upload to Facebook soon. We also saw some really amazing beautiful mountains and scenery and lots of lakes with many different colours but the salt content was so high in them that there was no animal life really so, if you were quiet it was just dead silence! The scenery changed quite frequently it would go from green to total desert to something In between. It was pretty warm during the day ( I did get a little sunburn) but at night it got freezing! Luckily on the tour they provided us with enough of everything. The food was basic but good. I just ate what I was given. On the last night we did have meat which I am quite sure is a big luxury for most Bolivians as it is a really poor country. One of the guys had a birthday while we were on the tour so we surprised him with a party and our guides even made him a cake! It was really a good night.

The last day was finally the day of our salt flat tour. These salt flats are some of the biggest salt flats on the planet. It is 12,000 K's big or 7500 miles big! It is just massive and a bunch of the world's salt is mined here. We got to watch guys scraping it by hand from the ground into big trucks. That would be a terrible job but better than no job I guess. They were just coming out of the rainy season on the salt flats so rather than being totally dry there was actually a lot of water everywhere. It is so flat there that when you take pictures it is like a total optical illusion. We had a lot of fun with that! You can make it look like your a giant and stepping on your friends who like like midgets. It is all natural too! You are only limited by your imagination.

After that, we drove back to town and waited to catch our bus from there to La Paz Bolivia where I am now.

Until next time,Tyler

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