Spin Class on the Salars

We arrived in Sabaya yesterday and meant to leave today. All packed up and ready to go, we stall. Everything is a little crisp: lips, noses, ears, the sun toasts it all. Instead of leaving, we stay.

There’s a static, radio voice echoing around town today. Someone is selling something from a truck. I tune it out, but then I catch a word. Papaya. Then another. Piña. Mango. Papa. Tomate. I look out the window and see a truck full of fruit. In a second I’m up, shoes on, money in hand, running out the door.

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We spend the afternoon working our way through a soccer ball sized papaya.

From Sabaya we ride across the Salar de Coipasa. The surface is not as smooth as we had hoped. We follow jeep tracks, hoping they’ll go where we want them to, then riding across bumpy salt mounds to find another track when they don’t.

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The sun beats down. There’s no relief here, only the need to keep moving. All the wide open space gives me the jitters. I watch Tyndall fade into a small speck in front.

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In Challacollo I collapse in the late afternoon shade of an old building. We don’t need to go any farther today. Tyndall spots an abandoned school house. It will do. The wind whips up and we move in. The walls are covered with undated, slightly inaccurate maps and inspirational sayings in Spanish with backward Ns and Ss.

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There’s also one poster dedicated to the “Mar para Bolivia.”

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Bolivia lost its coastline to Chile over one hundred years ago and still dreams of having it back. Given the mineral wealth there, I doubt Chile plans to return it.

In Virginia I went to one spin class with Tyndall’s Dad. The Salar de Uyuni is like spin class without climate control and much better views. Objects come into view, grow in size and then we slowly pass them. Again and again.

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The islands are like a mirage. The space mind boggling.

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We arrive at Isla Incahuasi at lunch time. Tourists are milling about, let out of their jeeps to play. I just stand there, taking it all in.

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Right on schedule the wind whips up. I know it would blow me the remaining 90km to Uyuni in a few hours, but I want to camp out on the salar. We drink Coke and pass the afternoon inside. I watch other tourists as I would wildlife, remarking on their bahavior to Tyndall. Eventually this gets old and we venture out to find a sheltered spot for the tent.

Tyndall goes scouting and comes back with a new hair do.

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We pick a spot on the north side, easily able to watch the sunset and sunrise.

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Past the island, the jeep tracks spread out in a hundred different directions. Pick one and go. Potholes appear. We investigate.

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Beneath the salt crust is water. We don’t see the bottom. Huh.

Off the salt flat we turn towards the tourist town of Uyuni, hesitant to go but in need of some services.

Where we rode: Sabaya – Challacollo – Lica – Isla Incahuasi – Colchani – Uyuni

Lica is a well stocked, well kept little town. Resupply here is possible.

We found the road between Colchani and Uyuni recently paved.

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