Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 33 - The Drive Back...And The Wind That Followed Us

Wake up call was at 4:30 am. Keep your sleeping backs in your seat, the guide said, you´ll need them. Sure enough, it was freezing in the jeep. It was still dark when we reached our first stop for the day - a field of active geysers. Hot steam burst out of the ground, creating the type ofhiss one hears when a a pressure cooker goes awry. Our vehicle stopped by a fairly large geyser, but I could make out many more not so far away. We stopped long enough for the picture-taking and were soon on our way. As we droe through geyser land, a huge cloud of dark gas stunk up the car. I recognized the rotten egg stench of sulfur.

Breakfast was still being worked on as we took the bumpy roud to our last touristic stop for the day. Laguna Verde, or Green Lake, was mostly blue and extremely windy. No surprise there. The center of the lake, however, was a turquoise green. I enjoyed the view from the window of the jeep, not wanting to further numb my already chilled toes.

The rest of the journey was simply driving back to Uyuni. It was anything but simple. Initially, there was just a little wind, swirling the sand that tinkled on the windows of the jeep. Pretty soon, we were int he middle of a hefty sandstorm. The window I was sitting by didn´t close all the way, so I had my fair share of sand in sleeping bag and jacket. It managed to make it in my mouth too. I chewed and heard it crunch. The storm lasted for many, many hours. There were times when I could´n see where we were going, the clouds of sand were that thick. I went through phases of naps, waking up, and eating lollipops. It was a long nine, ten hours.

We were supposed to reach Uyuni at six in the evening. At 4:30 we were almost out of gasoline. Every village we stopped by didn´t have gas. It didn´t help that the other jeeps were running low as well. Everywhere we went, it was windy. And sandy. There was no way we were reaching Uyuni by six.

The guides finally called the main office. A truck with gasoline was on its way. We met it halfway and refueled, reaching Uyuni at seven. The electricity was out in the whole town, and the wind that had followed us the whole way was ever present. We rushed to the nearest bus station, hoping to find a ride back to La Paz tonight. The first two companies we asked were full, save for one seat. The third bus had exactly two seats left in the last row. We took it. Sucharit rode the other bus with one available seat. We´d meet at the La Paz bus terminal in the morning. No more wind for me, thank you.

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