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    South by South America Tour – Bolivia Part 5

    Saturday, September 21, 2019
    Uyuni, Bolivia

    Pedestrians in Uyuni, Bolivia.
    Pedestrians in Uyuni, Bolivia.

    I just took it easy on this, my second rest day in Uyuni. I spent most of the day Photoshopping my photos and working on my blogs. After the four tours in San Pedro de Atacama and the three-day Salar de Uyuni tour, I got almost a week behind! Due to all of the tours, the high altitude and a cold I’ve had since my last day in Santiago, I’ve been feeling really fatigued. On top of all of that, when I woke up yesterday, I discovered that I had locked my keys inside my locker at Piedra Blanca Backpackers Hostel. The front desk clerk tried to cut it off with a hacksaw, but it didn’t even put a scratch on the lock.

    Now that's what I call a street car! Uyuni, Bolivia.
    Now that’s what I call a street car! Uyuni, Bolivia.

    Luckily, there was a mechanic right across the street who showed up and cut it off with a handheld electric grinding wheel, sparks flying everywhere. I wish I would have shot a photo of that, but it didn’t occur to me until later that I should have. Anyway, I ventured through the dusty streets of Uyuni from the hostel to a tiny shop downtown, where I bought a new lock and a bus ticket to Potosi for the next day. I enjoyed spending a couple of days in Uyuni. It’s a funky little town with some odd and interesting sights to check out and shoot photos of.

    Being a pedestrian is popular in Uyuni, Bolivia.
    Being a pedestrian is popular in Uyuni, Bolivia.

    “Uyuni is a city in the southwest of Bolivia that primarily serves as a gateway for tourists visiting the world’s largest salt flats, the nearby Salar de Uyuni. Each year, the city receives approximately 60,000 visitors from around the globe. It also acts as a gateway for commerce and traffic crossing into and out of Bolivia from and to Chile, and there is a customs and immigration post downtown. Agriculture in the area is generally limited to quinoa, llamas, and sheep. Founded in 1890 as a trading post, Uyuni has a population of 29,672 (2012 official census). The city has an large street-market, and lies at the edge of an extensive plain at an elevation of 12,139 feet above sea level, with more mountainous country to the east.

    Torn flyers on a pole in Uyuni, Bolivia.
    Torn flyers on a pole in Uyuni, Bolivia.

    “Uyuni is an important transport hub, being the location of a major railway junction. Four lines join here, respectively from La Paz (via Oruro), Calama (in Chile), Potosí, and Villazón (on the Argentine border, where the line now ends). Uyuni is connected by road to Oruro and La Paz, Sucre, Villazón (on the border with Argentina) and Ollagüe, Chile. The city is also served by the Joya Andina Airport. Currently, two local airlines fly regularly to the city from La Paz, Sucre and Rurrenabaque: Amazonas and Transporte Aéreo Militar.

    A fresh juice vendor in Uyuni, Bolivia.
    A fresh juice vendor in Uyuni, Bolivia.

    “One of the major tourist attractions of the area is an antique train cemetery. Uyuni served in the past as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. The train lines were built by British engineers who arrived near the end of the 19th century and formed a sizable community in Uyuni. The rail construction started in 1888 and ended in 1892. It was encouraged by the then Bolivian president, Aniceto Arce, who believed Bolivia would flourish with a good transport system, but it was also constantly sabotaged by the local indigenous people who saw it as an intrusion into their lives. The trains were mostly used by the mining companies. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned, thereby producing the train cemetery.”—Wikipedia

    The dusty streets of Uyuni, Bolivia.
    The dusty streets of Uyuni, Bolivia.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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