For as long as I can remember, Jorge has had a photo of the Milky Way against the backdrop of the great salt desert in Bolivia. He has spent a good deal of time dreaming about the day we would park our truck in the middle of this vast sea of salt, viewing the majesty of the galaxy and saturating ourselves in the giant expanse of stars. As we approached Uyuni, we began to see a bright white stripe in the distance along the edge of the horizon. We looked at one another and began to giggle. We had arrived at the Salar! The closer we got, the larger the stripe and before we knew it, we found ourselves looking out at the massive amount of land that comprises this salty section of the Earth. Over 4000 square miles, the world’s largest salt flat originally formed a pre-historic lake filled with water from surrounding mountain chains. Because it lies in the high plateau known as the Altiplano, there was no way for the water to drain. Now there is a thick crust of salt on top of huge reservoirs of brine containing almost 70% of the Earth’s lithium reserve.
We drove onto the salt with such a strong sense of accomplishment that we each sat straighter in our seats – shoulders raised and smiles as wide as the desert itself. After many years of planning, many months of driving and more than a few moments of discontent we found ourselves in the singular second of a destined dream recognized. We were actually here…in the Salar de Uyuni. Like small children on Christmas morning, we were eager to explore the treasure before us and our pace quickened as we began to drive out onto the huge silvery plain. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning its downward journey in the blue sky above us. We watched as other guides headed back across the desert with Landcruisers filled with tourists. As we crossed paths with small nods and waves, we quickly realized our timing would be perfect. We would have the Salar to ourselves for a spectacular sunset and quiet evening on the salt, camping under the stars with no one as far as the eye could see. We took pictures, drank whiskey, and savored this surreal moment. No doubt you will share our giddiness as you watch our silly video…
After a very cold night (-5 C, yes…that is a minus sign) spent in the comfort of our Tepui with its extra winter cover and our new down comforter, we awoke to a magnificent sunrise just after 5 AM, well before the tourists came to inundate this special spot. Drinking coffee in the sun, bundled in our winter wear we continued to grin. We are going to re-visit the Salar on our return trip home and hope to experience the salt desert during the rainy season when the salt flat will retain enough water to make an enormous mirror. I simply cannot wait.
Today’s theme – An unforgettable moment is made.