The tent held up through the night of rain, and because of the cloud cover it wasn’t too frigid in the morning. In the winter it can get down to -20c, especially when the wind picks up, but as it was spring it was passable. We had exchanged stories with Dave & Monica the night before, especially about how wonderful Brazil is, and in the morning they told us that they were strongly considering heading changing their route to head that way instead of the Peruvian Andes. They were planning on having a short day, maybe just to the next Isla, Isla Pescado, which was just over 20km away. We on the other hand, were planning on pushing on and getting off the salt flats. Partly because of visa pressures, HJ was only given a month and so has to get out of Bolivia by the 15th of October, and partly because I wasn’t really feeling the magic. To be fair, the salt was looking a bit whiter than it had the day before, when it had looked distinctly brown at times, but still we had another salt flat ahead of us after Uyuni.
We had woken up to complete silence, just our two tents, and so it was a big surprise when we went 500m to the other side of the island and saw lines of jeeps all parked up with tourists sitting round having their breakfast, and then wandering off a couple of hundred metres into the salar to take some pictures. That also included pictures of us, because I guess we’re tourist points. To be honest, it bothered me more later on in the day when the jeeps would slow down and go at my speed so the tourists could stick their heads out of the window and take pictures of us. It felt like being a lion during a safari. To be fair, it’s probably how the locals feel when I take pictures of them as I ride along.
As we got close to the edge of the salar, the rails on my saddle failed again. Jon from Manta Saddle had sent me a couple of spare ones, including one that was meant to be an original design. It ended up being a little too big, and maybe that’s why it failed. I’d forwarded the other one to La Paz, along with a bunch of HJ’s stuff, and so had the fun of standing up the rest of the way to town. While leaving the salar, we got hit by some hail, and it was at that time that three cyclists went past us. I wasn’t in the best of moods, what with the hail and the having to stand up to pedal so I didn’t stop. Of course that’s when Cherry from These Places In Between, who I’ve been in contact with for ages on Facebook went past, unbeknownst to me until later when I saw her Facebook message saying that we’d be able to meet up in Uyuni. Oops.
We got to the town of Llica early enough for the welders to still be open, and after a quick 5 minute job I could sit down again. The town of Llica was very friendly but beat Uyuni for the amount of litter flying around. Every street had multiple signs on them saying things like “Look after Pachamama” and “Don’t throw rubbish!”, I guess that’s the drive to educate people to keep it clean. We were allowed to throw up our things to sleep on the floor of the municipal building, nice as they had their own lodgings that they charged for. Dinner ended up being from one of the 4 stands selling hamburger, all lined up next to each other, as the only alternative was chicken and chips.