I’ll come straight out with it. The reason it’s taken over ten days for us to update the blog is because we got lost!
We left Uyuni 11 days ago and crossed the Salt Lake. We camped on the salinous concrete-like crust and proceeded to the shore as planned. A full video documenting the crossing including some risqué footage will be up tomorrow, if you can’t wait till then, theres a photo of adonis on a bike here ; )
After an extended wait in an almost deserted town on the lake shore due to yet another bout of sickness , we headed for the town Salinas. This time it was Marina the Femme Forte who bit the dust. No sooner had we arrived than we were inducted into the Carnaval procession which was in full swing. Still clad in lycra, and caked in sweat and dust from the road, we were covered in paper garlands, showered in confetti and plied with local homemade hooch. Then marched around the town arm in arm with old ladies in bowler hats and petticoats. It was all a bit bizzarre to be honest.
In Bolivia people take Carnaval, especially the liquid aspects of the festivities, very seriously, and the whole parade was riproaringly plastered and hell bent on taking us with them. To be accosted by a wizened drunk old lady in full traditional dress brandishing a bottle of homemade purple moonshine is quite an experience. A street crammed with stociously drunk OAPs dancing like kids at a parish disco just a seems a little bit odd. But then again this is Bolivia.
After a day’s detox we headed for the asphalt road to Oruro. Just head out of town and take the first left; simple. Unfortunately, not so simple, as this is Bolivia, and we spent 4 days wandering blindly along muddy roads in the cold wind and rain in the near deserted Altiplano with these two frenchies. We passed through towns that weren’t on our map, on a road that didn’t seem to exist. We were given cryptic abstract answers when we asked locals for directions and distances.
In the twilight zone that we slipped into, time rather than distance was the metric by which distance was measured; “Por Favor…how many kilometres to Ororu?“… “oh, about five hours” . Our conception of space and time warped, as progress slowed with muddy wheels dragging and earnest spirits flagging. Its a funny and unsettling thing not really knowing exactly where you are in the world, looking for positional solace in a map that bears no representation to geographic reality. So we pressed on in earnest eating tuna and crackers for every meal and spending a night in a mud brick out-house and two nights in the equivalent of the village hall.
It was good to have company, and Thomas and Clement kept us amused with their wry french witticisms. The joke du jour being the answer that we got when we asked a local how long until the road would be asphalt, rather than a mixture of rutted mud, rocks and dust, which invariably would be 30km, irrespective of the actual distance. We resolved that when we finally arrived at our destination in Oruro on asphalt, we’d have an asphalt party to celebrate.
When the asphalt finally arrived, the first in 500km, we eventually reached Oruro. After we’d swiftly showered (the first in, ahem, 6 days) and changed we hit the town for our asphalt party. Only to be tucked up in bed after two cold ones and less than 3hours later. Tucked up in bed sleeping soundly and dreaming simple dreams of food other than tuna and crackers and long flat sealed roads with ample signposts.