After spending the entire day deserted at the Salt Hostel, making phone calls and waiting for the other vehicle to arrive like Ripley’s Tours kept promising… At half past five that afternoon guess who arrived!? Our worst nightmare, Cesar!
The manageress of Salt Hostel was very kind. She showed us how to use the town’s only phone and even made lunch for us all! The plan was to sleep there again that night and arrange our own transport the next morning. San Jaun is so isolated one waits 2 hours for a taxi to arrive.
But now Cesar was there with a smile on his face! He didn’t even attempt to apologize or explain what happened in Spanish. Where was the other tour guide, Kido, and the other vehicle that was always just an hour away every time we phoned Ripley’s?
I am still not sure what would have been the best thing to do when he arrived. We didn’t have many options. So we put our bags on the rack on top of the Toyota and headed for the hostel which was booked for Night 2 of the tour. Awkward silence would have been better than the same awful pan pipe music Cesar was playing. He must have been intentionally torturing us! During that day we even all looked around to see if we weren’t maybe being tricked for a candid camera show.
So we didn’t do or see anything we were supposed to on Day 2 of the Tour. To make things worse it was getting dark and Cesar was driving like a mad man. I wasn’t able to see the size of his pupils but his conjunctiva were red and he could hardly keep his eyes open! I’m not sure if he was on drugs or if he just had a rough night? We kept ordering him to slow down. At one point the bonnet came lose and flipped up in front of the windscreen. The guys managed to cut a piece of rope to tie the bonnet down. Cesar was zig-zagging all over the place and almost rolled the car over! Eventually we shouted “pare” which is stop in Spanish.
We told Cesar to stop driving and Jon, who is a retired spy for the french military, took over the driver’s role. When we thought nothing else could go wrong the car stopped because it ran out of petrol. Luckily, there was a can of fuel on the roof.
At about 9pm we arrived at the hostel where we received good food. By this time we couldn’t wait to get out of Bolivia! That night we all slept in a 6-bed dormitory.
I’ve added some photos of Day 1 of our Tour. We visited a train cemetery, Salt Flats and Salt Hotel, and a big rock with many cactuses on it called Fish Island. I still need to google to find out more about these places because as you would have concluded our guide was not a bubbling source of information. The train we rode at Bjorn and Sarah’s wedding was way cooler than the train cemetery! The Salt Flats were an incredible sight! As far as you can see there is only white salt everywhere! We tasted it – it’s very salty!
We made “word photos” at the Salt Hotel because the Hotel is quite boring and we couldn’t find Cesar to tell him we wanted to move on. It’s quite nice that it’s a building made mostly from salt bricks which have been cut out of the Salt Flats. At the spot where we were supposed to take photos we managed to take like 4 photos (which weren’t that great) before the Toyota’s engine started roaring at us. We’ve seen Julie and Jon’s photos and Marieke and Wout’s photos that they took when they were at Salt Flats and they had so many funny and interesting ones! Moral of the story: Don’t go with Ripley’s and make sure your guide’s name is not Cesar.