It`s 3AM, I don`t want a tour!
Day 95: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
As soon as we stepped off the absolute most miserable bus we`ve ever taken (and surely will ever take!), we were accosted by several tour agents trying to sell us tours for the salt flats–at 3AM! We hadn`t slept much at all and just wanted to find a hostel that would take us in at such an hour. One agent gave us a card and then gave us directions to a hostel that was just 3 blocks away. We were freezing–it was 28 degrees farenheit we later found out– but since the hostel was so close, we couldn`t justify a taxi. After 5 blocks of nothingness, we turned back to where the bus dropped us (not the station but a side street on the edge of the town) and luckily found one of the last 2 taxis.
At the hostel, we were price gouged but couldn`t argue or find another place since nothing was near and the taxi was gone. We angrily settled into a room without heat and only 2 thin blankets and shivered ourselves to sleep.
Knock, knock, knock…It kept coming but Lin thought it was just part of a dream. Knock, knock, knock. Nope, it was real and it wasn`t going away. Who in the hell could be waking us up?! It was 8:30AM. Lin was barely awake, looking surely quite disheveled and ragged. Who could it be but that blasted woman that had let us in just a few hours earlier babbling away in Spanish wanting to sell us a tour that was leaving in 2 hours. Are you serious? Lin just stood at the door, shivering and utterly incredulous at what was happening. When she said she wasn`t sure if we would be taking a tour, that she would have to talk to Saben and he wasn`t awake, the woman had the gall to ask if Lin would come tell her in 15 minutes if we were taking the tour. Lin shook her head and, even as early as it was, laughed at her. “No,“ she said, but the wretched thing persisted and offered a generous 30 minutes to wait for our answer. Just to get her to leave, Lin agreed and shut the door rather abruptly. By this time, Saben had awoken but only half heard what had happened. A half hour came and she returned with that incessant knock, knock, knock again. Saben (being much more forceful gave her a firm “no“ and she went away. Not 10 minutes later, we ran to check out to escape that ridiculous woman.
We ate an undercooked, oil soaked omelet for breakfast and immediately wished we hadn`t. Bolivia isn`t really a place where you can send back unsatisfactory food and, for us, every penny counts so we can`t waste anything if we can possibly help it. Not feeling very optimistic about our future after such a terrible meal, we began a search for the best tour company to go to the salt flats. Evenutally, we made it down the long row of agencies to Red Planet Expeditions and a friendly guy named Oscar. We paid 550 Bolivianos for a 3 day tour with all meals and lodging included as well as 2 sleeping bags (normally 35 Bolivianos) for free since we are getting good at bargaining. We will leave tomorrow and found ourselves with a free day to do nothing. We sat in the square under the warm sunshine in a tiny dusty town in the middle of, literally, nowhere.