by Logan Pratico
Driving, driving, driving. Nothing but driving. After a cumulative total of 24 of the last 48 hours in the car my head ached, my stomach felt queasy, and all I could think about was stretching out in a nice warm bed. So far, my first trip to Salar de Uyuni had been really enjoyable, but I was starting to wish we hadn’t signed up for the ambitious three day tour and instead had just taken the one or two day tour and made it back to Cochabamba by Monday.
The other volunteers and I arrived at our lodging for the night, wanting nothing more than to get out of the bitter cold. Bundled in the thickest clothing that each of us had brought to Bolivia, we sprinted for the front door. However, upon entry we were disgruntled to find that their was no insulation and no heating, which meant that the only things keeping us warm that night were the two layers of blankets on each of our beds.
We woke up at 4:30 AM the next morning and like zombies we shuffled into the car to see the last three locations on the tour. The next three hours were a blur of naps and bathroom breaks until we arrived at the last location for the day: La Laguna Verde.
The guide shut off the car, told us that we had 20 minutes to explore the area, and then we would be making the long journey back to Cochabamba. We all stumbled out of the car wrapped in our blankets, fully unprepared for what we were about to see. Right in front of us was the most beautiful mountain, overlooking a stunningly reflective lake which all together looked like a page right out of National Geographic.
The frost on top of the mountain reflected perfectly on the water, just barely touching the shore of the lake and blending in with the snow at our feet. Almost as if it were planned, the sun came out from behind the clouds for the first time in 2 days, and we could move our fingers again. There was nothing to be heard for miles but the sound of the flamingos squawking. We just stood there and enjoyed the view. The way that the mountain was sandwiched in between the sky and the lake was unique to anything we had seen before. Its untouched beauty and the amazingly vivid colors left us all speechless. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
On the drive back home I felt oddly different. I had been annoyed with the trip all weekend, but being trapped in the car didn’t seem so bad now. That trip to Salar de Uyuni changed me in a way. I realized you should never focus on the bad moments, because every experience is going to be filled with ups and downs, but how you feel in the end depends on yourself. Looking back, everything that I did on that trip was worth all of the small little annoyances. Because now, 2 weeks later, I can’t even remember most of the bad moments. But I know that I will remember the good moments for the rest of my life.