The smell hits me, slaps me around the face. I’m in any case feeling queasy from high altitudes and now I’m back out of the jeep, wandering around gurgling mud pools at over 5,000m.
I’m in Bolivia and it’s Day 2 of my Uyuni tour where I’ve been cruising around in a jeep with five guys, a guide and a driver. There’s a second car in the group containing a far politer and better behaved bunch. Two blonde German girls and a minx of a Brit brunette are part of that mix and the boys in my car lightly tease each other about who has taken a fancy to whom.
On this tour we’ve already visited the train graveyard, we’ve let our imaginations run wild on the salt flats and we’ve spent our first night in a primitive and cold (yet mostly comfortable) hostel in Villa Mar.
And now, here, we’re drifting dreamily in a pitted landscape of strangeness and smells, sulphery smells that compete with my early impressions of Rotorua in New Zealand. Maybe they’re even stronger. I feel a bit dizzy and sick.
It’s a matter of timing my run along ledges between geysers spurting boiling sludge. They don’t shoot as high as I expect, but I’ll take my guide’s advice on the temperature. Third degree burns? Nah, it’s not something I want to add to my ailment list.