Mar. 4 – Rio Mulatos to Uyuni

2009 March 15
by joe

It was a painful night for me.  My chest hurt where the bike handlebars hit me when I fell.  with no heat in the room, the wet clothes were wet and cold in the morning, as well as mud covered and filthy.  But the beds had had good, wool blankets, and we both woke ready to try to get out of the mess we were in.  Using the bathroom was a challenge, and then a quick breakfast from our landlady, who was quite a bit friendlier to us this morning than last night.

Then back out onto the nightmare road.  The rain had continued most of the night, but it was not raining in the morning when we started out, and that, at least, was a blessing.  The road was a mess of mud, and we crossed river after river, until we lost count of how many rivers and streams we had forded.  In one, Levi’s bike got stuck fast in the mud mid-stream, and we had to unload it in order to push it out.

The longer the rain held off, the dryer and less slippery the road became.  With the breeze blowing and some sunshine, by afternoon there were actually some rare spots that were drying out and turning gray or yellow instead of brown!  With drier surface, we made better average speeds.  After five grueling hours on the road, we make it to the salt flat area, and the road becomes a real gravel road, with only bad spots, and, of course, rivers to cross.  We traveled on this for more miles, through desert landscape, and finally arrived at the town of Uyuni, where we saw the first pavement we had seen in days!

We stopped at a bunch of hotels, but could find none that had internet.  We finally picked one, only to find out that they had filled up while we grabbed a quick lunch.  We settled on a rough hostel, where we parked the bikes in the street and chained them up.  Almost as soon as we checked in, the power went out, and then the water went off!  The power was back on fairly soon, but we spent the night with no running water.  I am so sore that I can hardly move about.  We have pizza for dinner.  Uyuni is a very strange town.  It is filled with hotels and restaurants, and seems to survive on tourists coming to tour the salt flats.  Tour guide shops and souvenir stores abound, along with pizza restaurants and other touristy stuff.  Weird place.

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