The altitude sickness had finally hit me the following morning. As I woke up at 5 am, the mild headache was there, only to progressively worsen. I had been warned about the altitude sickness, as air becomes much thinner at a higher altitude, but I thought that I had surpassed it, as the first day in Bolivia I had felt fine. As La Paz is the world’s highest capitol (sitting at 3650 m), it makes sense that it could have a nauseating or dizzying effect-and did it ever.
As we made our way to the airport, I tried my best to hold off on taking anything for the headache. However, it was the nausea that started to get me. As we hopped on the plane to make our way to Uyuni, I took an advil and was able to drift off for the majority of the flight. The flight was only about an hour and when I awoke, I was feeling much better. Just a tip if you are ever travelling to a place with a higher altitude-drink lots of water, it truly does help.
As we arrived in Uyuni, it too had a very shocking effect. The contrast to La Paz was splitting. As La Paz had an overwhelming amount of people and many fascinating, divergent multi-coloured buildings, Uyuni had quite the opposite. We had now entered the desert, where there were white dirt roads and way less buildings with softer colours. On our way to Uyuni, it was almost like we had entered a ghost town, where many of the buildings looked abandoned, surrounded by white brick walls, and just open white space that drifted off into the distance.
When we arrived in the town of Salar de Uyuni, there was a greater vibrancy to it. It was small, with a strip of buildings down the centre. There were islands in the middle of the road that held statues and bus stops that separated the right side of the road from the left. In the far distance of the altiplano, you could see the mountains. With the brightness of the white roads and bright blue sky, it was definitely a sight to see. It was a very small town with a couple of connecting streets that held shops, some markets and food places.
Our hotel was located right beside a military base, which was kind of cool as we could see all of the military officers walking around in their uniforms. Can’t say that I have seen that too often. Our hotel itself was beautiful. It was painted in a bright red with an opening glass ceiling, which allowed for the light to shine down on the golden rails of the staircase that went up and split into two ways. As you walked down the hotel, there was a small restaurant and a hallway that had glass windows so you could see the leisurely space they had outside. At the end of the building was where our rooms were. You walked in and the inside was built of brown brick walls with vibrant yellows, reds and blues. The room was built like a square with all the rooms around the perimeter, with the center of it being open and the glass ceilings at the top of it, so the room opened up. It was quite unique.
The rest of the day comprised of walking around and checking out the places. We had lunch at a really cute cafe and the food was decent. One thing that I noticed was they have very minimal people working, so maybe only one or two chefs in the back. Food took a bit longer, but being on vacation mode, it didn’t bother me, especially since I was with good company.
Later in the evening, we went to a deserted train cemetery. It was in the middle of the desert, with mountains surrounded by it. The trains had been left there for decades, as faster methods of transporting goods had been put into place. However, as the trains were just abondoned there, it had become one of their tourist attractions. It was very enticing-almost like an old playground that you just wanted to explore and climb around in. The blue skies just enhanced the surroundings and it was so breathtaking.
The rest of the night was just relaxing and hanging out with the tour group. The next couple of days were going to be compact with lots of travelling and sight-seeing. I was extremely excited to see the famous salt flats of Bolivia-the largest salt desert in the world. Never have I gone to bed so early. I knew that the sights would be beautiful, but I was not prepared for how captivating they actually were. So, stay tuned for my next post on my last couple days in Bolivia and how astonishing it actually was!