San Pedro De Atacama our door to Bolivia
My Gringo journey didn’t start here but the beauty of reliving this journey though photos is that there is no constraint because of flights, buses or other forms of transport, I can start and finish where ever I so choose and I can think of no better place than San Pedro De Atacama.
This was the part where the journey got rough and breathtaking all at the same time. It was leaving the beaten old track for a completely beaten old track carved out not by road but by local memory.
It never ceased to amaze me how people would find a way to make a living no matter where they were. There is no welfare, minimum wage or any other support system accept for that of you and your families own resourcefulness in making enough money to buy what you needed to live.
I would sometimes watch as people would get annoyed at those trying to sell something when really we are walking in their lands, seeing what their country has to offer and these people would look at locals as if they have trespassed on their day as if this space is reserved for those that can afford to travel there and then leave. I personally liked to observe the locals and admire their efforts to make for themselves what we would often expect our governments to provide for us.
Traveling through Bolivia’s desert is really the closest I have come to traveling through an landscape that is pulled directly from science fiction, I would almost guess that this space has inspired many a science fiction story.
Their are so many cliche in describing this place, vast, breathtaking, stunning….but for me it was like being lost where a compass has no north. There were few roads, most of the time you are traveling by the memory of your guide. The sun will beat down all day and heat your car to 30 plus degrees inside only to step out and feel a wind that cuts through you and sends chills to the depths of your bones. And then from no where you will rise above a hill to look down on a filed of Lama’s and a lake of Flamingos, it is as if this Mars like scene has just sprung life.
Salt is the great persevere of food, it takes all the fluids and prevents food from spoiling. In Bolivia salt preserves a way of life for locals. It gives locals a way to make a living. It’s not an easy living and it is not a comfortable place to live but it provides and preserves for the Bolivians of the Salt Flat.
There is something romantic about coming through this land to finally arrive at Salar de Unyni, traveling through a land that you would struggle to believe anything at all could live there, yet all around you you find life surviving and thriving to finally end at a destination where you will find a train graveyard. That the only things not to survive in this land is what man has made.