Bolivia (Uyuni - Laguna Verde)
The fact that the road infrastructure is still so poor is probably because Uyuni was, for most of the 20th century, one of Bolivia's great railway hubs.
To the west the single-track line still runs towards the Andes, Chile and ultimately to Antofagasta on the Pacific coast. Southwards it continues to Tupiza and Villazón and Argentina (no services or even track beyond the border); and northwards to Oruro and La Paz. The line eastwards towards (but not to) Potosí was dismantled years ago.
But in fact, the road south-west is a good, all-weather affair, although I didn't follow it all the way to Avaroa/Ollagüe on the Chilean border. At San Cristóbal, a Canadian company is mining silver, and they're probably funding road maintenance.
By day three in Bolivia, my wife had succumbed to altitude sickness. We warn all our clients about not flying into altitude, not overdoing it, taking time to acclimatise, so of course I, on her behalf, completely disregarded that sound advice.
Although Rodrigo carries oxygen, she opted to stay in bed for the day. That morning, the two of us set off at 4.30am to do the 14-hour off-road (off all-weather road that is) round trip to Laguna Verde (green lake) and near-perfect cone of Volcan Licáncabur. Both are at the far south-western tip of Bolivia, near the Chilean border. We usually allow two days for this.
I don't know where Shakespeare got his inspiration for his lines in Romeo and Juliet "jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain top", but he probably never got to this part of Bolivia.
I've occasionally, even in Britain, seen hillsides catch the dawning sun. But you need to be facing west on a high flat plain at the very instant that the sun rises, to catch it dancing tiptoe, for a few seconds, on the very peak.
So, Shakespeare must have just imagined it.
Posted: 01/09/2009 12:23:04
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Filed under: Laguna