Friday, June 1, 2012

Geysers, hot springs, laguna verde, deserts, and a long drive home

 The last day of my Uyuni tour started at 5 a.m as we had a lot of ground to cover that day. The jeep was packed and driving through the desert a little after 6:00 in the complete dark and bone chilling temperatures. It was all worth it though to watch the desert come to life around us. As the sun slowly rose the dark mountains began to emerge, their snowy peaks a bright beacon in the otherwise dark and desolate surroundings. The sun rose higher, bathing the mountains in a hazy morning light, giving them a purple hue as the surround planes glowed orange. It was truly beautiful and unfortunately the only documentation is in my mind as Garcia was once again a man on a mission. The first stop we made was at the geysers, these themselves weren't particularly jaw dropping and they smelled strongly of sulfur... not quite the same as waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Fun fact: they are at 5,000 meters above sea level. In my opinion, the best part of the geysers was when we first came down over the hill and could see all the steam shooting out from the distance. Since it was faaa-reezing cold, the geysers' steam was very visible and prominent. We were probably only at the geysers for five minutes; myself, only for one or two before dashing back to the warm jeep (Southeast Asia spoiled me with high temps and I'm still struggling to adjust to the southern hemisphere's winter).
Getting our hot tub on
The next stop was Termas de Polques, the most amazing hot tub that I have ever sat in. Not really a hot tub, but a  hot spring, the one thing that had motivated us all to get out of our warm beds earlier that morning, It was a quick strip and dash to the 85 degree Fahrenheit water. It was lovely, both the water and the surrounding view. Getting out wasn't nearly as hard as I had suspected because by that point the sun was up and helped warm me up as I quickly changed back into my three sweaters, spandex, hat, etc. It was then back to the jeep for our final destination of the tour: Laguna Verde. This lagoon is green because two variables: the first being the copper and other minerals in the water. The second is the strong wind that blows, dispersing the minerals and creating a stunningly brilliant green color. When we were there it was a blue because it wasn't windy enough. Garcia told us when there is no wind the water is black. Even though it wasn't in it's most beautiful state, it was still a lovely lagoon. Also, it was cool because it was in the corner of Bolivia. Garcia pointed out three volcanoes a couple kilometers away that border Chile, and then one way off in the distance that borders Argentina (tina says hi, Hannah).
Laguna Verde. Not too verde
After some last photo opps it was back to the jeep for the eight hour ride back to Uyuni. The first three hours we were backtracking, but at a certain point we turned onto a new road *read as dirt path* and had new views for the remaining five hours. Literally, the whole three days we did not once drive on a paved road; it was always a sand or dirt road. The way home we started off in a desert, but the terrain slowly turned into something a little more verdant spotted with llamas– and occasionally they became roadblocks with Garcia laying down on his horn to scare them away. As quickly as we we entered the sand dunes, we exited them, driving through planes just as vast and arid but with hundreds of thousands of dry, scratchy bushes sprouting through the dusty, red dirt. Framing the plain was the mountain range we had just been driving around: purple, blue, and orange with the tallest mountains sporting the brilliant snow white on their peaks. The range stretched for as far as my eye could see (not very far for those of you who know me well. But the mountain range really was big.). We passed lots of llamas and mules that just stared at us as we drove by. Why do I have no pictures? Garcia....
llama llama llama

I said goodbye to my new friends, boarded the night bus and arrive in Sucre at 4 a.m Monday morning, just in time to crawl into bed for two hours before making my way to Parque Bolivar to work off some of the dulce de leche I consumed that weekend (dulce de leche is a deliciously sweet spread), Spanish lessons, and then BiblioWorks. Monday was a pretty long day if you can imagine and I was so happy when the day was over and I could sleep not on a bed made of salt or a bus.

The group!

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