The Andean Expedition team are doing a fantastic job of keeping us up to date with their stories and photos…here’s the next installment courtesy of Sureyya!
To whom it may concern, due to recent unforeseen events with hotmail, although Alex (and Tyrone) dutifully handcrafted the blog they were unable to pigeon it along to your server. Hence why i have the privilege of sending this email. Hope the weather is nice where you are. I hear it´s lovely in South America this time of the year.
We guess that all our avid readers are waiting with anticipation to find out what the surprise was…
So, we all wrapped up in loads of layers and went to a bus stop. There we were collected and taken into the Atacama Desert (which is apparently the best place in South America) to stargaze. There we learnt everything there is to know about stars (in the Southern hemisphere that is). Looking through telescopes we were able to see Saturn and one of its moons (Titan) and we were also taught how to identify the Southern Cross. Following the stargazing, we warmed up with hot chocolate, blankets and a discussion with out Canadian guide. Some of us were so cozy we even fell asleep (mentioning no names, Chloe, Izzy and Gilly!).
The next morning we travelled to Bolivia. Whilst crossing the border, Sureyya and Mike changed their occupations to an Astronaut and a Secret Agent respectively. At the border we were met by our friendly drivers: Valerio and Hector and Rita our cook who always made us amazing meals without fail. The highlight (for Tye) being the unlimited pancakes and dulche de leche for breakfast on the last day. Due to unusually large amounts of snow, the Altiplano had been inaccessible for 9 days prior to our arrival but had luckily reopened that day, just in time for us. The highlight on the first day of our 3 day adventure in 4x4s across the park were the colourful lagoons and thermals en route. The evening was bitterly cold and poor Tye was the victim of a blanket prank which he blamed the girls for although they were oblivious to it.
After “one of the best fried egg sandwiches I´ve ever eaten” – Pete topped with ‘Pepzilla’ (the name of our big pepper shaker) we spent the day driving across the Altiplano enjoying the fun which the Banterwagons provided. The views were spectacular but the best bit of the day was scrambling as high as we could in the rocky valley. The evening entertainment organised by yours truly was widely acclaimed as a huge success. It consisted of some heated competition but Alex´s team (Mike, Gilly and Chloe) won by miles.
On the final day we were up muy temprano and arrived at the Salt Flats just in time for sunrise (and photos). We then spent the day visiting the fish island and perfecting perspective photos (including a video of Pete eating a Landrover). Pete and James topped the day with chilled champagne on the shiny salt flats. After a final lunch with our knowledgeable drivers we headed to the ‘Tetanus Playground’ (Train Cemetery) where Gilly got excited by the Russian graffiti and the rest of us clambered on the trains.
Having said farewell to Valerio, Hector and Rita we spent the afternoon wandering around Uyuni and exploring its market but we were grateful that we only had a few hours there! After cleaning our teeth in the Pizza Restaurant which was run by an 8 year old we embarked on the 10 hour coach journey to La Paz. There we spent the day gathering equipment for the next couple of days: Ice Climbing and Mountain Biking down the World´s Most Dangerous Road and exploring the markets (“They sell everything including the kitchen sink” – Mike) and many shops. In the evening we went to Olivers Travels for our very long awaited English Breakfast- delicious when it finally came.
Miss Sureyya Paterson (no kisses)