Hospital in Uyuni Bolivia Salt Flats With a Child

The hospital in Uyuni is clean and somehow very basic. There are no covered corridors and where my son lies is a basic outdoor room. My son has expected salt poisoning from licking the salt on Uyuni Salt Flats.

hospital in Uyuni

©Exploramum and Explorason – my boy sick in his bed in the hospital in Uyuni

The Hospital in Uyuni – The Room

There is also no light-reducing curtains here it the room of the hospital in Uyuni, so the metal beds are pulled around the room to get patients out of the sun.

There is cardboard under the bed where the springs are broken, and as these people are so poor, this is all they have, but do their best.  Here lies Explorason after an eventful 24 hours of what we think is possibly salt poisoning.

The dear little baby in the same room next to us is so ill as he cries for so long. My son and I silently pray God will have his hand on him, and ease his breathing struggles.

hospital in Uyuni

©Exploramum and Explorason – my son caring for the sick little boy in the next bed

Mamma Love

I walk over and ask the Mamma if I can take her baby for a bit. Gently I place his head on my shoulder, I rub his back and slowly jiggle him.
With near instant soothing, I have success, and soon there is peace and quiet. After over one hour of a very unhappy baby, and hearing how little the baby can breathe, we are all happy for the silence and I feel pretty happy that I’ve calmed him down.

After a while, a nurse comes in and wakes the baby. What ??? The crying starts again. So the mother puts music on her phone. Right now, we discover they are Christians. My son sings along to songs he learned at school and I sing along to songs I know as well. The baby calmly responds to the music.


I feel the peace fill the room. We are all exactly where we are meant to be in life at this moment and I know we are here sharing the room for a reason.

How They Take Blood

A while later 3 nurses come into the room of the hospital in Uyuni to take the baby’s blood sample.  But as we have no separating curtains this is horrible to watch. They bend the baby backward, and the father holds the baby’s feet, and then to my horror, they go for a vein in his neck to take blood. The nurse tries two times without success, and the baby is screaming the room down.


I walk over and hug the mother as she stands and weeps as she watches her baby in agony. Eventually, it is over, and she climbs up and offers the little one a comfort drink.

Basic Conditions Of The Room

I give the dear Mum some of my toilet paper supply to wipe her eyes. Here, I have had to bring my own toilet paper as it is not supplied at the hospital.

In fact, the toilet window is fixed with Xray film to prevent the wind and dirt entering the room. The top of the toilet doesn’t fit or match, carboard fills the gap under the bed, and there is a huge stain of dried blood (I think) on the back of the door. There is no soap to clean our hands either which amazes me seeing there is also no toilet paper, and I wonder what others do.  Food and water are not supplied as far as I can tell.

Medical Team

hospital in Uyuni

©Exploramum and Explorason – the hospital corridor

Groups of medical doctors and nurses come and go and all are extremely professional. Next four doctors arrive, examining both her baby and my boy.

My son cries out in pain as they poke his tummy… it is still so tender. The doctor decides we need to stay another night and my son is so upset. It is days like today I wish I had a home, a car, and some friends. 

Hospital Exterior

I walk around and outside of the hospital. It is a dust bowl and it backs onto the water tower, and what looks like a scrapyard.

The Amazing Antonia

Antonia returns and she brings me bread and bananas and I am so thankful for this amazing lady who is just wonderful. I give her some money, and she will go and pay for our hotel room for another night. Then she will go and buy a new bus ticket for tomorrow as I feel if he needs to recover it is better to go to the main city of Sucre.

I make sure to give Antonia extra money for her help.

I am thankful I have travel insurance. But more so, I am thankful my son has stopped vomiting and is on the mend.

By late afternoon the baby opposite us is extremely ill. We feel so sad about it and at the same time the smell is overpowering and I can’t cope.

My son has thankfully stopped being ill. I stare at a stain on the back of the door – please tell me that isn’t blood ?!

I don’t want my son to stay here in the hospital in Uyuni and risk further illness in case the baby is contagious. Inside I feel very uneasy that we need to spend another night here.  So I go to the emergency and tell them we are leaving but we will go to the hotel and return if my son worsens.

The Account

After quite some discussion I present myself to the Hospital in Uyuni administrator for the account.  They spend about $15 minutes adding up the costs and I wait to wonder how expensive it will be, and when he tells me nearly fall off the chair!

It is all of  $11 for two days stay in the hospital and includes the medicines.  It really won’t even be worth using travel insurance!

Back to The Hotel

At the same time as me settling the account, along comes Antonia with an English interpreter and they help explain to me about what has caused my son’s illness.

Antonia helps us get a taxi back.  He boss comes along and asks for more money for having her help me. I had already given her money, but I give her more – in Aussie dollars and she has really helped us.

We head back to the hotel, and I head out quickly to grab some dinner and go to the internet shop but there is no wi-fi strength for emails. So we just send a message on Facebook to let our family and friends know what is happening.

We get back to the Hotel Avenida, and the manager demands money for his mother cleaning the linen (when my son was ill on the day).  Fair enough, I would have paid anyway, but I can’t say he is polite, and so I ask for a receipt.

Yet he refuses to give me a receipt! I pay him anyway because now he is really getting worked up and I wish we were staying elsewhere. I then find out the toilets have no paper (they charge for this), or water.

The showers are locked until morning so we cannot shower. Really I just want to sleep. Oh, give me sleep and by 8:30 pm we are asleep. 

In hindsight, I should have packed and taken us to a nicer hotel, but in the midst of all of this, and not being able to leave my son in bed alone, I did the best I could. Next time…

Questions and Comments

  • Have you or a family member ever been sick in a country other than your own?
  • Tell us about it.
  • What tips can you suggest for our readers who might get faced with a situation like this?

Thank You

We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to the wonderful and caring doctors and staff at the Uyuni hospital.

We would also like to thanks Antonia for being an angel and all her tireless assistance.  This is why you also pick a reputable tour company like Uyuni Tours because when things go wrong they are there to give you the professional assistance you need.

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