Tupiza to Uyuni

16:54

In gorgeous sunshine I put my foot on the pedal and zoomed off out of Tupiza. The fantastic sandstone formations, including one that looked like a giant penis, kept me amused as I pressed on along a progressivly worsening road. Then, behind me, I spotted an enormous black cloud. That's ok, I thought, the wind is blowing the other way. Well, it turns out my meteorology skills are about as good as my spelling and the downpour hit. Rather soggy, I sheltered under an overhanging rock and started making some jam sarnies. Just then, a big lorry turned up and offered me a lift. Seemed like a good idea so I jumped in.
sandstone dick
The truck was carrying some kind of mineral that my spanish is not good enough to work out. To me it looked like a big pile of mud. My bike was slung on top. As we drove along the driver and his mate were constantly chewing on handfulls of coca leaves which made understanding what they were saying difficult. The torrential downpour lessened a bit as we climbed up a steep hill and turned ot mist. Driver's mate brought out some tequilla and fanta. Driver knocked back quite a few of these and his voice became very slurry. He'd be driving us around a blind corner on a narrow road into mist with a precipitous drop and leaning over his shoulder slurrily telling me about how pretty the girls are in La Paz...From now on I will treat trucks with extreme caution. We reached the mine they were heading to and I got chucked out.
atochi
A bit woosy from the tequilla, I pedalled on and soon enough the rain returned. Then, I colided with a pot hole and heard the rear tyre go "pop". I fixed it up in the chilly hail storm and whizzed off downhill. On the way down I hit a big patch of mud and skidded all over the place barely managing to stay upright. Then, at the bottom of the hill, I had to pedal up through another patch of mud. I had no traction and the mud clogged up everything. I had to get off and push which only served to get my feet and legs covered with mud as well and we made little uphill progress. If at first you don't suceed and all that. Eventually, I gave up.
bolivian woman in a funny hat
Camping in a muddy patch, with a muddy set of panniers, muddy bike and a muddy me, soon everything else got muddy too. Great. But the good thing about mud is that in the morning it will dry out and turn to dust, right? Not this mud. This mud bakes in the sun and turns as hard as a clay pot. Even more difficult to remove from the vital moving parts of my push bike.
clogged up with mud
Well, mustn't grumble. Got the thing going and headed back onto the mud-bath, sorry, road. Made the top of the hill and had a nice long free-wheel section. Got to Atochi, a nice basic town nestled in the hills, and bought some bread, empanadas and 2 litres of Fanta as couldn't find bottled water. Reached a nice little desert like stretch about 25km from Uyuni and camped for the night under a full moon. Pasta boiled in fanta with a can of condensed tomato was the supper of the evening and rather good it was too.
camping out in the flat bit.

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