Globerovers Magazine talks to Tony Hastie about his new book: “Bolivia Tried To Kill Us ~ A year trekking and travelling in South America”. It is now available at www.amazon.com and at www.smashwords.com. The article will also appear in the next issue of Globerovers Magazine (July 2016).
Bolivia Tried To Kill Us ~ A year trekking and travelling in South AmericaAuthor – Tony Hastie
Globerovers Magazine talks to Tony Hastie about his new book…
Tony, did Bolivia really try to kill you?
Yes, really! But perhaps not in the way you’d expect…
Freezing temperatures, hygiene standards, public transport, ‘flu in the Amazon and the world’s most dangerous toilet all conspired to end our days… and we definitely thought death would be the easy way out on some of these occasions! In our entire year of travel, there was no other country in Latin America where we encountered more mishaps. It was kind of fun facing them, as you have to do on the road, but only in hindsight! We’ll dine out on our Bolivia stories for years to come.
Was Uyuni part of the conspiracy?
It most certainly was! We arrived in Uyuni after a three-day 4×4 tour from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. I woke up on day three of the tour and decided to wear shorts again, as I’d done for the last four months. We had a 4am start to see the sunrise on the salt flats. By the time I got to Uyuni about 12 hours later, I couldn’t feel my legs!
As I was attempting to thaw out in our hotel room (in my sleeping bag, under two duvets) where the room temperature was -2°C and my wife Amanda decided to take her first shower in three days. It was ice cold, but not having had facilities up until this point, and feeling the need to be clean, she pressed ahead, shrieking, and quickly jumped into her sleeping bag too. Needless to say, we both stayed under covers for a very long time. When we finally ventured out, it was to a restaurant where Amanda managed to contract Salmonella.
Would you still recommend a visit to the salt flats?
Absolutely. One of the highlights of 14 months in Latin America was the tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni. Two days of spectacular scenery at above 4000m across the altiplano (high plains); snow-capped mountains; crystal clear, brightly coloured lakes; geysers and hot pools; deserts and smoking volcanoes, and thousands of flamingos kept the camera clicking nonstop.
I took a thousand photos. On the third day we hit the salt flats. It was quite a sight, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That said, the two days prior are what really made Uyuni worthwhile. If you happen to find yourself in this part of the world, pencil in three or four days and take the grand tour. You won’t regret it.
What’s the best way to get about in Bolivia?
If you want to get anywhere quickly and comfortably, fly. If you want an adventure, take a bus! Being on a budget, we went with the ‘adventure’ option. Most of the roads we travelled during three months in Bolivia were pretty bad, and if they weren’t, the drivers generally made them that way.
We came up with a short list of rules to follow while on public transport:
1) Never, ever, under any circumstances look out the window when travelling alongside a cliff.
2) Never occupy the seats immediately behind the driver. You will see what he sees, or doesn’t.
3) There is NO SUCH THING as five star comfort! Do not expect working toilets on buses (or anywhere for that matter!)
4) And most importantly. NEVER take a 400g bar of nut chocolate onto a bus in Bolivia. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ϑ
This interview appears in the July 2016 issue of Globerovers Magazine.
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