Uyuni to Ururo, Friday 28th January 2005
Things do not always go to plan. The train actually left at about 2.45am. I boarded the dark isolated carriage around 1.20am and between that time and departure there was intermittent power and various shunting manoeuvres in various directions. Seats 1 and 2 were right at the back of the carriage so not reclinable. The rattling metal shutter although noisy shielded the sun effectively. The heater near the floor accidentally heated up my camera bag. With a lack of sleep I am obviously not feeling my best. They showed a film on the TV and at about 9.30am we arrived. Dogs seem to accompany the station rail track. A shared taxi to the bus terminal (with an entrance ticket for the terminal) and I found out there were no buses to Arica until Sunday, meaning having to spend two nights here where there is not much interesting to see and do. As a reasonable alternative I opted for a bus to Iquique, leaving at 3.00am but allowing people to sleep on the bus from 10.00pm tonight. Unfortunately it is a 20 hour journey and I arrive late around midnight in Iquique but it does give me a chance to see more of Chile. Unfortunately it means that I am quite tired and I will definitely need recovery time when I finally arrive. Arica is a further five hours from Iquique. I am therefore seeing lots of trains and buses. I am writing from the Cabana Restaurant with bamboo roof a short walk from the main square where I ate the special for the day. I had to sit and collect my thoughts at the bus station where a shoe shine boy cleaned my shoes. I am slightly deadened after my large bottle of beer. Some kind of noisy demonstrations are taking place in the centre (I believe about representing indigenous groups) with drums and horns and brightly coloured dance, which meant that my camera was busy. I believe it is the tiredness that is making me feel less comfortable than I should be. Perhaps people find the place intimidating because they perceive themselves as the ethnic minority of one. Bolivians certainly do stare at you – maybe not because you are tall and handsome but because you are different. The pizza place by the square is filling up and I am recovering from the dubbed “Incredibles” film and “Resident Evil 2” which followed on straight after: it seems like you pay for your place in the cinema and can watch as many films as you want. The thought of a long bus journey does not fill me with joy. Bolivia can be hard work sometimes. There are so many lawyer “shops” around town – I do not know why they need so many. Returning to the minority theme, staring is a natural curiosity and I guess if they do not see or interact with many foreigners then they feel awkward too; also the known differential in wealth does not help. The sugar from the coke is definitely making me feel better. Tonight’s bus journey may be my last ever 20 hour bus journey! The planned journey was going to be 10 hours but I see the longer journey as preferable to staying in Ururo a further two nights and days. I should get some sleep in between 10.00pm and 3.00am.