Monday, April 21, 2008

Salar de Uyuni - Day Two, Part Four

Our final destination for the day was a series of geysers and boiling mud vents. We follow hesitantly as Lazano leads us past the numerous sign posting warning of danger to walk along side these thin crust volcanic vents. Some people worry of sharks in the ocean or poisonous animals crawling into their sleeping bags at night. I think about these fears which at one time or another have crossed my mind and I realizes that the idea of me potentially falling through the earth´s thin crust into a boiling mud bath might register on the fear scale. Or atleast it would be a rough way to go out of this world. I bite my lip and press on. We are okay. We have Lazaro. I keep telling myself that. We make it back to stable ground and head for Ospedaje Huallajara, our sleeping arrangments for the night.

It has been a very long day. We arrive at the ¨lodging¨ where we sip coca tea and play cards until our dinner is ready. Word is trickling down through out the other groups that numerous people are coming down with altitude sickness. I am feeling the effects myself. After countless Ibprofren pills and mulitiple liters of water, I am unable to rid myself of a pounding headache and intense sinus cold. It all sounds meager compared to the guy down the hall from Chicago who is coughing up blood. He is set to be evactuated at three in the morning when it will become safer to drive. His friend beg the guides to take him back sooner but they are firm on their decision. It is too dangerous with the cold and vast desert to be driving out at this hour. It is a sudden reminder to us that despite our fun and games, we truely are in a remote place. There are calls for radioing a helicopter but this is Bolivia and there are few helicopters in the world that could even fly at our altitude, let alone exist in Bolivia. The rest of us keep sipping coca tea and layer up for the promised cold evening sleep.

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