Our dream has been to stay in some of the most unique accommodations in the world and one of those we hope for is a house made of salt bricks at Posada Dona Lupe.
This bus is freezing cold as the side window has slowly worked open. My attempts to shove a plastic bag in the gap is somewhat dismal in stopping the freezing wind. My back aches and I feel a right sciatic pain as I curl up in a ball trying to find a comfortable spot.
My socked feet are completely numb, yet in pain. I am twisted into two seats with my son on my lap, swathed in two blankets as thick as horse-rugs. They are so warm, yet I so wish for another, as I can still feel the cold seeping in through ever side crevice that is not entirely tucked around our bodies.
Barren Winding Roads
Slowly we see blue or pink salt pools by the side of the road. Then dusty Uyuni is lying out before us. We are over one and a half hours late despite his best efforts as a maniac driver to get us here at breakneck speed.
Salt Flat Tours – Salar de Uyuni Posada Dona Lupe
As we disembark, we are ambushed by many Bolivians armed with pamphlets who try to convince us to book a Salt Flat tours with them.
I say a quick prayer for God to guide my choice as I am over being ripped off by tour companies. Yet we want to leave today as there is nothing to do in this town.
Breakfast And Waiting Time
A lady keeps approaching me, and although she only speaks Spanish, I am drawn to her. She grabs my suitcase and we head off to her office which is blocks away. She informs me that a man who speaks English will be there soon. It is in a restaurant so we order Desayuno – or breakfast. So we wait around the warm fire pit inside.
After a good half an hour, this man finally arrives. He speaks a little English and I specify I want to stay in a house made of salt bricks like the one at Posada Dona Lupe. We also decide on a two-day tour, so he throws in today’s breakfast for free.
Pack The Right Gear
I have less than an hour to repack my bags, gather sleeping bags and then I discover we need OLD shoes and clothes – oops – we just gave them all away in Arequipa to the poor in a random act of kindness – oh well!
It is important to know the salt will get on your clothes and stain the dark with white splashes, it can eat into your shoes, and it can also be quite cold out there.
Uyuni Tours – 20 years and first company on the salt flats
The 4WD arrives. ‘Uyuni Tours – 20 years and first company on the salt flats’ sports their door sticker.
We introduce ourselves to the other 4 clients. There is a lady who has flown from Japan just to see the Salt Flats. She thinks my son is gorgeous!
We talk and I discover she has paid about one-third of my price. However, I am also told we are getting special treatment, plus we are staying at a house made of salt bricks at Posada Dona Lupe.
Ninos (my son) gets the front seat at all times and the man explains to all we have paid for this as extra. This actually makes me feel very validated and that for once, we are getting the tour we have paid for, which is a really nice feeling!
We head off and visit the Great Train Graveyard or Cemetery. This is close to town and we climb about old rusty beasts.
The railway line fades to oblivion in the distance and we have a lot of fun here. It is kind of a unique worldschooling situation. There are so many locomotives here, it is like every train in South America chugged to its halt here.
I would love to visit here at sunset if I had time all over again, as I think the colors would be spectacular.
We are told we have ten minutes – this turns into about ½ hour.
Laying Down Our Rights
We climb back into the 4WD and I relinquish our rights to the front seat. Being kind, I offer it the Japanese man the front seat. However, the driver instructs this man that he cannot sit there again because we have paid for it, and it is our right, and then I feel bad.
I wonder why society makes folks feel bad when a person might actually sacrifice their hard-earned money for something because they want it, and feeling sorry for someone should take that right away. It gives food for thought.
Driving To The Salt Flat Area
After a dusty ½ hour we head onto the salt flats. We visit a small town and shop in the markets. We add to our international Christmas Tree ornaments with a few purchases here. We’re collecting key-rings and turning them into decorations for our International Christmas Tree for when we get our new home.
I am amazed at how inexpensive things are here in Bolivia and have to hold myself back from buying more.
But fortunately, we are out of time. However, I do buy salt dice; a salt pot; and a salt trinket box – all of which my son has licked to confirm they are salt.
Cramming back into the old 4WD, we head off to the salt piles. We are told that this was once a lake. This is where you need old clothes, a good eye, and a sense of humor as you can have a LOT of fun!
Now we are presented with men with shovels making piles of salt to dry it.
Old trucks drive away piled high with the dry salt. Bicycles lay near where the men sit and rest and this is how they work and live. In this weird beauty, there is sadness and poverty and ill-health.
You can only see their eyes – they are completely wrapped up. The white salt acts as a mirror to the sun and burns the skin.
Small pyramids and cones of salt sit in divided squares. Many are surrounded by water. We jump around and take some funny snaps.
My son eats the salt. Licking his hands he is amazed that what looks like snow, is salt. It is as cold as the snow outside. Only a few degrees Celsius.
We have a great time – The Japanese lady on our tour has our camera and takes some great photos.
Salt Museum And Hotel
No way !!! I have so wanted to see this. And my son has lined up a heap of poses he wants to try for infinity photographs.
And I need a toilet (loo) so wee race around. We meet some Australians who help us with our photos which we just love as we have missed our accents. We laugh as my son decides he wants to ‘kiss Mamma’s butt’. Then there is the island of flags so we quickly pop over there for a photo to, but it is all so rushed.
Oh – where is that loo? We go into the museum and we find we have to purchase an item at a massively inflated price to enter. We decide the price of the Banos at $1 AU is our entry ticket but in these times it is worth it, as they are also so poor.
Tasting and Licking Salt
As we go in, again I find my son enthralled by the taste of salt. He is licking things and I inform him that it is meant to be pretended licks.
Our guide comes and ushers us back to our vehicle. Our ten minutes turned into forty minutes.
Piling in, we barely close the doors, and the driver ‘puts his foot down’. We laugh as we notice the speedo isn’t working. The fuel gauge says empty. The crack in the windscreen is held together with a Boliviano coin!
A Good Mum has Snacks
We feel like the horizon has not changed even after an hour. We have been heading for the volcano but it doesn’t seem to be drawing near.
After what seems like an eternity we discover that it is almost 3:00 pm and we have had no lunch. The conversation has died in the 4WD and everyone is bored and hungry. I am thankful for my snack pack – a good Mum always has snacks!
We arrive at a rundown Hostel. We meet the Australians and their team again and we all sit down for lunch. I note the other 4WD has a tablecloth and superior food.
We discover that this is where we are meant to stay but it is not a house made of salt bricks at Posada Dona Lupe. It is a dump, and dirty. In fact, the old lady sits in a dumpy room and charges us to use the toilet and we are paying for lunch and meant to be staying here. It is one of the worst places I have seen. So I head off to find our guide who informs me we can go and look at two other accommodation places, one including the Posada Dona Lupe.
I then see the terrible room at this Tahua Hostel that all the rest are sharing. It has rusty beds and a mismatch of old linen and it is really horrible.
He says he will take us elsewhere now. “Yes please”, is my instant reply.
We go outside and then I see my boy chasing llamas and alpacas all over the place. Next, there is one sniffing my hair. We converse and take some great snaps.
The tour guide wants us to leave, but I also want to stay at the grand Palacio De Sal, Uyuni – my dream. However, we drive off for another 20 minutes and come to a village called Jirira.
Posada Dona Lupe
At last, we arrive at Posada Dona Lupe and are shown a lovely room. It is so much better than the last place and we are also told we will eat here tonight, and not head back to join the others. We are the only guests and the salt bricks and décor are great. The rest of the property is rustic and we love the overall feel of the property.
The town is so lonely. Our driver takes us back out to the salt lake and just leaves us and says he will be back in 30 minutes! Now, this is a WEIRD experience as we stand in the vast expanse of white.
God Is Here
I feel this is a place of complete quietness – a place to hear God and to feel him.
I feel like we are in exactly the right place in our journey of life.
1 hour later it is starting to become dark; we are freezing, and our driver finally returns but by now I was rather freaked out I must say. A mother and son all alone out in the Salt Flats, and we had started to walk back.
Looking Around The Town
He drives us 500 meters and drops us back to the Posada Dona Lupe. I am completely confused about what happened in the last hour.
We grab our jackets and wander around the town. It is getting dark and my camera battery is almost giving up on me. Time to explore in the morning as we head back to Posada Dona Lupe.
Washing up in our ensuite at Pousada Dona Lupe, we head upstairs for dinner with only the same clothes to wear as we came in.
Our fabulous meal is home-cooked comfort food – soup and spaghetti. Let me tell you that the soup was fabulous!
Bedtime at Posada Dona Lupe
Comments And Questions:
- Have you ever been to a salt mine or the salt flats?
- What did you think?
- Are you heading to Bolivia?
- Do you have anything you would like to know from us or other readers?
- Please ask in the comments section below.