It was freezing cold when we went to bed last night but thanks to our gazillion layers of alpaca sweaters, we managed to feel warm in the middle of the night, almost hot. It was still hard to sleep though at this high altitude. My husband is feeling better but our three and eight year olds kept waking up all night long. That’s part of the deal though… if I want to travel with young children, I need to be able to put up with bad nights.
On a better note, today is Esteban’s birthday! Our cook went out of her way to make up for yesterday and made him a birthday cake for breakfast, no small feat in such a basic kitchen at this altitude! We sang “Happy Birthday!” in English and in French (many French travelers on this trip) and hit the road.
And what a road it was! After yesterday’s stunning scenery, I could not imagine that we would see anything quite so beautiful and yet we did – amazing rock sculptures in the desert, gorgeous mountain scenery and beautiful lakes full of flamingoes. Each was different and spectacular in its own way and words just do not do the experience justice.
We also stumbled upon a necropolis in the desert where ancient tombs have been uncovered to reveal the skeletons. It was a little creepy but the kids were strangely fascinated.
It was a fantastic day but we were all happy to arrive at 4 pm to our lodging for the night, a salt hotel. That’s right, everything in this hotel – the walls, the floors, the beds, the tables, the chairs – were made out of salt. What an adventure for the kids! And best of all for the adults, there were hot showers to be had for $1.50 per person, steep but necessary. Hot showers and cocoa tea were just what we needed to refresh us. (Cocoa is a plant that has been used by indigenous people in the high Andes for hundreds of years. It is chewed or brewed into tea and is believed to help with altitude problems, stomach problems and many other ailments. All of our drivers on this trip chewed it saying that it helps them feel alert. I tried a leaf but didn’t feel anything. Everybody, including the kids, drank it for altitude issues. The US government takes a tough stance against this leaf but there is a big difference between the leaf in its natural form and its highly processed product, cocaine.)
Tomorrow is a big day – sunrise at the Salar de Uyuni! We will be getting up at 4:45 am in the freezing cold to go watch the sunrise but I know it will be worth it.