After waiting for 2 days in vain for the roadblock around Potosi to end, I decided to go to Uyuni instead and try my luck at Potosi later on. I bought a ticket for 120 bolivianos at the La Paz bus station. Since I booked the seat only 2 hours prior to departure, I got a pretty crappy seat all the way in the back of the bus. My seat was sort of broken as it wouldn’t stay reclined. I knew it was going to be a long night.
The bus left on time at 7pm. It got stuck in a massive traffic jam once it got to El Alto outside La Paz. The rest of the way to Oruro was relatively smooth. It was after Oruro when the nightmare began. By then it was already around midnight and the temperature had dropped to below freezing. I couldn’t see outside the window since there was a layer of ice on it. The paved road ends at Oruro and what followed was 6 hours of dirt road hell. It was extremely bumpy. I’m not talking about small bumps. I’m talking about getting airborne from my seat at least 50 times, sometimes going up over 20 cm. It was freezing and while we were each given a blanket, the constant bumps made it impossible for it to stay on me for any extended period of time. I don’t think there was a 5-second period when the bus did not hit any bumps for the 6 hours or so between Oruro to Uyuni.
I managed only one hour of sleep the whole night. I don’t think anybody else got much sleep except one guy who snored the whole way. It baffles me how anybody can sleep through that.
It was a bone chilling -5°C outside when we arrived at Oruro at 7:30am. I saw Jakob getting off the bus. I had met him in Huacachina, Peru a few weeks ago. We stuck together along with Owain from Wales as we roamed around town trying to decide whether to look for a place to sleep that night, or leave right away for a 3-day tour to the Salar de Uyuni.