21.5.10 10 °C
Ahhh Bolivia. Where else can you see 6 grown men squashed into the cab of a front end loader trying to keep warm. Pity I couldn't get my camera out fast enough.
While trapsing through Potosi yesterday looking for some sandwhich fillings (yes my life is that exciting), I came across a mercardo (local market) selling the usual fruit,vegetbales, spices, pasta etc. Now I know I don't exactly look like a local but I actually felt like a circus freak the way they were all staring at me.
Feeling slightly out of place I just threw them a nervous smile and a casual 'Hola' and the sun hardened faces of the women selling their wares transformed when they smiled back. Granted you usually see more gum than teeth, but their eyes light up with a sparkle and they don't look half as scary.
The biggest suprise of this market was the womens 5 a side football (aka soccer) match happening on the bitumen out the back. The goalie with her purple football jersey, traditional padded skirts, stockings, sandles and beanie was a sight to behold. How these women run around the pitch with ease while I struggle to breath just walking, is beyond me.
But alas I have said goodbye to Potosi. The highest town in the world (4100m) and once the richest city in the Spanish empire is well worth a visit for anyone travelling through Bolivia.
Mendoza was where I had last left you and it is absolutely beautiful; just imagine the autumn colours of the leaves on the grapevines, the friendliness of the people, and then of course it would be remise of me not mention the food and wine. The lovely owners of the Monkey Hostel treated us like family, Luc even treated me to lunch by the water in the local park with his wife and daughter.
Since Mendoza I have also said goodbye to Salta and Tupiza and we have visited the Talampaya and Ishliguasto National Parks. The rock formations in these parks have to be seen to be believed. Perfectly circular balls of stone resting on the ground in a circular area while all around is cragged peaks is truly bizzare. The wind and water has been at work erroding this landscape making some weird an wonderful shapes.
Cafayate was next on the list. Our mornings ride from the top of the hill past a few wineries back to the town turned to the darkside soon after we started. A flat tyre for one of the pax saw me swapping my bike for theirs. Next another bike tyre went (the front), closely followed by the back tyre on the same bike and then the back front tyre on mine went as well. So while Alice and I were riding down the hill on the rims the others were flying past. All i can say is lucky it was downhill.
So while I didn't get to see the wineries on the bike tour, I did get to see some great scenery on our drive to Salta and I also saw some acts of bravery from 2 of my pax.
First some background. Just outside Salta is the largest zip line in the world. It has 9 lines stretching many kilometres back and forth across a canyon. We only did 4 lines one of which is the highest and longest; 200m above the river below and 600m long. While my 71 year old pax did it with ease the 2 pax petrified of heights had a more challenging time of it.
Full credit to both of them. When the blood drained out of their faces before we started I knew they would have to call on some guts. By the time we cracked the champagne at the end of the day we had seen some serious jelly legs. After having a panic attack at the top of the line and having to be bought over by the guide (cue jealous Renae as he was quite good looking and he had his legs wrapped around her) Alice took some deep breaths and went on to do the rest of the lines (3 more) all by herself and with her eyes open...woot, woot!
It always great when someone pushes themselves beyond their boundaries to do things they thought they couldn't. It just goes to show you just have to give things a try sometimes.
After Salta we headed to Tupiza were the wind could have blown the wool off the llamas. My cold gave me the perfect excuse for hiding indoors all day and sleeping.
So now I am in Uyuni were the pizzas at Minuteman are as good as ever. We are currently sharing the hotel with the cast and crew of the new Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid remake. Very cool. We keep seeing actors who we recognise but can't quite picture where from. I guess I'll just have to wait for it to come out.
Tomorrow we are off to La Paz and I promise next blog I won't go on about the city of markets, strawberry caprioskas and beef and ale pies.