Mud bogging, and higher and higher.
Laguna Colorada Travel Blog› entry 10 of 20 › view all entries
I slept pretty comfortably in the little dorm room, although I think that the elevation is reeking havoc with my sinuses, as I was a bit clogged all night. It also rained fairly hard for a while, and I was nearest the door. Chantel said she closed the door at least once during the night but the blankets near my feet were a bit damp in the morning.
We had a simple breakfast, with instant coffee, hot cocoa, or coca tea. I wanted to try the coca tea, which is said to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness, but I'm worried about an upcoming drug test for work. The concept of a drug test, or of the possibility of coca tea or leaves triggering such a test were lost on everybody, as the drug test for a job seems to be uniquely American.
After breakfast we packed up everything and took off We drove and drove for quite a while until we reached an area on the fringes of the salt flat that could only be described as a mud flat. It was very hard and drive-able in places, but recent rains had made other areas very much like a mud/clay quagmire. We saw a few TLC's (Toyota Land Cruisers) stuck up ahead, so Juan avoided the worst of it and stopped to try to help. There were two TLC's stuck with a third trying to assist.
Well, while trying to help we, of course, got stuck as well. Another after that got stuck before a red TLC with a very long front winch got there and pulled everybody out. It was a very good representation of the capabilities and limitations of our vehicles.
We stopped at a rail station on the Uyuni-Calama, Chile line that had an interesting cemetery where some of it had washed away. A bit creepy. The roads one we started to go up in elevation were nasty, and the encounter in the mud flats left our TLC with a bent left rear shock absorber. So we were now proceeding just a bit more slowly then everybody else.
We visited five smaller lagoons in the Altiplano, all of which had salt and other mineral deposits in them, making them look like they had iced over in parts. There were also many flamingos in the lagunas.
We also saw many herds of wild and domesticated Llamas, and occasional groups of Vicuna. Vicuna are wild and rare, and look like a cross between a deer and a llama. We did have an up close and personal contact with a baby Vicuna that Juan tried to catch. Mathias touched him with a jumping lunge, but couldn't quite corral him. Probably best that we didn't. I'm fine seeing and taking pictures of them.
We went up for a quite a ways, and quite a bit of time before entering another national park. We paid the fee and drove about a kilometer to our hostel for the night.
We stopped for lunch amongst some cool rock formations within view of the active volcano, Volcan Ollagüe. Unfortunately the clouds were so low that we couldn't make out any of the activity, if there was any. Our last stop of the day was at the Arbol de Piedra, a wind sculpted piece of rock that looks amazingly like a Salvador Dali type of tree.
The weather has been good so far. Not too cold, but very windy. I have seriously regreted leaving my lip balm in Uyuni. What was I thinking. Thankfully, Chantel let me use her Tiger Balm, wich had the added benefit of clearing my sinuses a bit.
I've also been ignoring a rib strain in got on the bus last week over the Andes from San Pedro to Salta. It bothered me for a few days, but I think I have triumphed, and I am more or less back to normal. I wish I would have done this type of thing when I was younger, but responsibility comes slowly to some of us.
More to come...