Saturday, May 19, 2012

On our way to Potosi

Transportation of Bolivia
 We are told that bus is not the best option in Bolivia, as the road was not very developed, dusty and bumpy. In the Southern part, train is said to be more comfortable.

However, when we check the train time and destination, we found it only covers Oruro, Atocha, Tupiza and Villazon from Uyuni; while all start at night, midnight or after midnight.

On the other hand, it's said that bus to Potosi is quite scenic with mountains and valley, but that we should expect locals siting between you, over you or on top of you, which is part of their culture. (Or I should think it's the bus company greedy culture that they allow standing passengers for a long four hours bus ride!)

How cheap is Uyuni?
Food and hostel in Uyuni was cheap and bus ticket was cheap, so we decided to stay one more night and opt for a morning bus to Potosi. (many company offer the service to Potosi, all concentrated in the bus company area of Uyuni, with 10am and 8pm every day.)

About the food, we had grilled llama ribs with garnish (rice, potato and salad) and a beef steak (Adley: it was very chewy and tough) with garnish for only B$29 in total (HK$36.25), while bus was B$30 (HK$37.5) each and hostel was B$30 each and it was a double room with shared bathroom.

We arrived the bus company at 9:55am the next morning, but was brought to another bus company to wait for a 10:30 bus. Our names are still in the handwritten seat chart, with the same seat we had chosen, but it was not our handwriting of yesterday. Our guess is, the bus we booked had gone and this was an alternate arrangement.

The bus was full but there are some locals getting on the bus at the bus company and in various villages, so they have to stand or sit in the aisle. Unlike as told, they were only politely standing there but not pushing into those already seated.

Some roads are finely paved road, a lot of hillside, up and down slope and sometimes bumpy, but not that bad as expected. The only thing is that despite the altitude (Uyuni elevation is 3669m and Potosi claimed to be the world highest city of elevation 4070m), the nights are freezing (if we dry our laundry outdoor, it's usually frozen in the morning) and the sun so strong in daytime, without wind, it's feel like 36 degree Celsius - all the windows of the bus are locked!

We only got a toilet break at around 1:00pm and be able to breathe some fresh air. We bought some refreshing tuna fruit (a very sweet seedy fruit of cactus), peeled right away and costing B$2 for 3.

Japanese vans all around
 We arrived at around 2pm and found hostel information and map at the bus station. We took a bus to Central at B$1.3@. It was interesting to see many buses have some Japanese branding on it. I thought there are Japanese immigrates here, so those are school bus or bus for workers? But later, I found out that those are mini buses used in Japan some 20 years ago, considered not environmental friendly anymore and wasting of fuel and thus eliminated. They end up absorbed and bought by some poorer countries.

our hostel

High altitude training
 It was a good time of arrival. We got off the bus and a local gentleman offered assistance and took us three blocks to the street where the hostel belongs. With the heavy backpack, the slope and the altitude, I was way behind the 60 something gentleman, he kept looking back to check where he left us.

Probably after a week or two of high altitude environment, I could run much faster!

Architecture in Potosi
Potosi was a much more developed city than Uyuni but still there are no tall buildings and architectures are filled bricks and wood.

The hill of silver mine "Cerro Rico" is at the background of the city of Potosi

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