|Having spent a grand total of one extra day than planned in Potosí, it was time to move onto Uyuni, and the end of my trip in Bolivia. I also had a date with my bus sister, Anna, at the end of the week in Northern Chile, and it was vital that I don't lose too many days getting there. Anyway Flor and Yas were also planning to make Uyuni their next stop, and the three of us planned to take a tour together. After the usual morning rush of getting things packed, stashing up on more cash, writing photos onto CD (and leaving memory card behind at overpriced Kodak Express - hence having to go back for it), we were ready to leave. Luckily there was taxi more or less outside our hostel, so it made getting in easier for us - especially Flor who was still feeling a bit unwell, and had a heavy pack.
The day was cold cold cold. Was glad to have had my jacket and scarf on, as the day felt much colder than usual, after snowfall over the night. We got to the bus station, and found out that the numerous agencies with buses to Uyuni were deceptively the same four companies over and over again. So there weren't many buses leaving at 11 or 11:30pm, but just the two. The eleven o'clock was sold out anyway, and only the backseats were available on the eleven thirty. Flor didn't want to take those, as she wanted a bus with more room for her to stretch out her long legs. Especially when feeling under the weather, she didn't want the discomfort of sitting in the back. Other than this bus, we would have to wait until the early evening, and get into cold Uyuni after midnight. I couldn't afford to lose another day, and Yasmin said that I should take the morning bus, and they would take a later one. And hopefully we should see each other in Argentina.
So unexpectedly, I found myself on the bus by myself. Got annoyed with the lady next to me, who was wrapped up massively with her shawls etc, and invaded half of my seat. When I asked her to move up, her husband offered to change seats with me, to a few rows in front. This was better, as my new bus neighbour was of a slightly smaller size than the previous one, and we respected each other's spaces.
The bus ride was pretty uneventful. I never got round to start reading my new book, as I suddenly felt very tired, and slightly under the weather. Please don't tell me that I was getting ill!! Not just as I approach the harshest part (climate-wise) of my trip!! Decided that the best remedy was to sleep on it. And sleep I did, for more or less the whole part of the seven hours trip. Got off for a little bit at a service stop, whilst everyone downed some hot lunch. Of course there would be nothing for me, but as I felt ill, that was fine by me. All I wanted was a hot cup of tea, and was quite baffled when the young girl told me it was only available for breakfast, and not lunch. Now, how difficult could it be to boil some water, and put in a tea bag? After a little enquiries to her aunt, she decided that it was not totally impossible. Though the tea was not served until my fellow passengers were halfway through their second course, but still I was glad to have something hot to drink.
Was still feeling tired and groggy when I got off the bus at Uyuni. It wasn't as cold as I had expected, and I made my way to a hotel listed in my guide. A terribly receptive young guide walked with me, obviously not getting the message that I wanted to be left alone, and get to a hotel quickly. Instead she kept asking me all the usual, like name, where I was from, what the weather was like in Potosí (hey, just turn around and walk the same way back to the bus station, take a bus there and find out for yourself!!), where I wanted to stay, which agency I was thinking of going with... Man, I should have just pretended I didn't understand a word!!!
Bad mood wasn't curbed when I got to the hotel I wanted to stay at. The receptionist told me all the rooms were full, and I wasn't allowed to use their bathroom quickly - despite coming off a long distance bus. The traveller who was sitting in the reception at the time, told me later, that he had an arguement with the receptionist when I had gone. He said that it was unlikely that the hotel was full, it was more like she couldn't be bothered to give me a room, and was being a total b***h about not letting me use the bathroom. Anyway, turned out my 20 Bolivianos (just over US$2) was better spent somewhere else, who was even nice enough to give me some extra blankets.
Well, I ran into Louise and Sarah as I was looking for a hotel, and they told me that they had booked a tour with Colque the next day. They were all going into San Pedro, which would also work out pretty well for me as well. Couldn't be bothered to go and check out other agencies, I took the easy way out and walked into Colque, after getting a confirmation from Anna that she would also get to San Pedro on Friday or Saturday. Due to snow on the mountains, the Chilean border south of the Laguna Verde and the much looked forward to thermal baths were closed. Hence we would have to take the longer way into San Pedro and Chile, by going up north and then south again, through Calama. And there also was a repeat of routing on the second and third day, so I asked for a possibility of something different. They thought it a good idea, and a deal was made.
So my opening words to Louise and the others, when I joined them a little later for dinner, was, "I have booked myself on the same tour as you (and bumped Joe from Australia into another group), and have changed the route... to Argentina!!" They were quite shocked, but were more relieved to find that the Argentina bit was a joke. Though I didn't feel very well, it was nice to be reunited with the Koala Den people. Louise very kindly said that at least I will be in a jeep with people I already know, and they would look after me. By eight thirty, I couldn't handle the tiredness any longer (yes, despite sleeping seven hours already on the bus!), and Curtis, being the perfect English gentleman walked me back to my hostel. Slept pretty well at first, but woke up at about two - pretty awake. And then I was sick - and just made it out to the courtyard in time. Lucky it wasn't on someone this time!! and this time, wasn't even alcohol induced. And just as you are staying somewhere very very cold, where the shared bathroom is across the cold courtyard, diahorrea decided to knock on my door - so you can imagine what a bad night I had in Uyuni, and I wondered if it was a good idea going on the tour the next day...