It is sort of a tradition amongst long-distance cyclists to take a picture while riding naked through the salars. The vastness and the lack of any soul around is i guess inviting for this gesture of boundlessness.
If you want to see Alvaro naked, look at his blog.
In Tahua we found shelter at the local school. The kids of the groundskeeper mistook me for monkey bars while we were waiting for their dad.
One of the kids had a developmental disability and reminded me on the character ¨Arnie¨ in ¨What’s eating Gilbert Grape¨. There is a program in Bolivia to pay for the care the child needs. Here in the rural parts of the country, these kids are left to the care of their siblings but are likely to be robbed of the chance to ever learn to walk.
We arrived with the ambition to climb the volcano Tunupa just north of the salar de uyuni. In the end, lack of preparation and energy changed our minds and we turned around half-way through. But at least we got a closer look.
We were glad that we changed our minds as we were descending, the weather changed dramatically and hailstones were drumming on our hoods.
Tahua also brought a reunion with a french couple we met at the casa del ciclista en la paz. Just as we got back from the volcano, we met them at the plaza and could offer them half of the floorspace of a classroom for the night. The next morning we cycled out into the salar…
before we went our seperate ways and they vanished into the distance, floating on the clouds…
until they were only dots on the horizon.
The whiteness was blinding at times. It was one of these places were the wonder wears of slowly and reluctantly. Even after hours of cycling, it was at times hard to grasp.
Rain was all around, but luckily not upon us,
and we encountered only little water at first.
After our half-finished excursion to the tunupa volcano, the following hailstorm and rain during the night changed this slightly, and while the vulcano slowly got smaller in our backs, we cycled through a varying depth of water.
Which was never enough to hamper the cycling and made for a great mirror effect.
It took a long time, while the sense of distance fails to deliver any idea about how long it will take to get to the other end, but finally the mountains on the southern side drew nearer.
We stopped for a salar camping experience on the isla de tortuga.
After an early dinner we waited for the light to change and had enough time to appreciate the sunset while the shadows grew longer.
Despite the freezing wind, we held out and it was worth it.
As was the getting up at an early hour for the sunrise at similar, if not colder temperatures.
Luckily our campspot was well chosen and one could enjoy the view directly out of the tent.
We were a bit worried about the rain beforehand, but it turned out to only add to the experience. Though i was glad about the raincovers for the shoes that i got made in Huaraz and the bikes were in for a good cleaning once we got off the salt.