View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Salar Sunrise

Waking up at 4:30 in the middle of the salar is a cold epxereince, it was about -5 degrees celcius, but the night sky was amazing. As we drove back across the Salar and chose our viewing spot it was now a waiting game. The sun finally began to peak out of the endless white horizon at about 5:30 am. It was one of the most gorgeous sunrises I have ever seen. With nothing in sight but our car and the sun and moon the white ground changed shades as the orange moon rise higher into the sky.

After breakfast back in the hostel it was time to move on from the salar to see the beautiful sights that are hidden away in the remote far southwest corner of Bolivia. As we road on dirt roads venturing further and further away from the white sea the lanscape changed dramatically. The nearly treeless surroundings were dotted with gentel hills and volcanoes near the Chilean border. After a few stops to get photos of the Tunupa volcano and several others we arrived at the first flamingo filled lagoon. Three varieties of flamingos covered the lake; Andean, Chilean, and the rare James species. We had lunch out of the tailgate once again with the pìcture perfect background of hundreds of pink flamingos.

We continued our drive into the desert stopping at the stone tree (a stone that has withstood years of wind erosion making it appear to be a tree) and several other flamingo filled salt lakes. Later in the afternoon we arrived at the Laguna Colorado, a red lake fringed with white minerals and dotted with more flamingos. This would be our accomodations for night 2. This very basic hostel made our night in the salt hostel seem like luxory. We had no running water and only one very stinky hole in the ground for a toilet. We were told to go for a walk right away up to the view point of the lake. Because of the afternoon lighting it was perfect timing to see the red colors of the lake. However, what we were not told was that there would be extreme wind...a major wind collack zone! One 45 minute walk up to the viewpoint the wind was strong but was at our back so sort of helped push us along. However, once we climbed the steep incline to get to the best view point the wind turned extreme whipping the gravel trail up into our eyes and tearing the sunglasses off our faces. It was a gorgeous view from the top, but the hour trek back to our hostel was horrible. By the time i reached our little room I had snott covering my face, a layer of black dirt on my teeth and was bright red from wind burn.

We were all flithy from being on dusty dirt roads for two days. All I wanted was to wash my face, but with no running water and only one water bottle to last me for the next 24 hours, that was not an option.

We occupied the next 3 hours before dinner by playing some crazy spanish card game. It was quite an entertaining sight trying to have the South Americans explain this game to me. It had very complicated rules and even the cards were different. But once I got a hang of the game, it was a great way to keep us occupied for the next several cold and dusty hours.

After dinner we went out to check out the night sky. Even more breathtaking than this morning before sun rise. The full moon was rising over the volcanos just as we stepped outside. The moon was huge and slowly drifted up into a star filled sky. With absolutely no lights around we could see thousands of stars!

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