Where trains come to die.. – The train Cemetery

The Salt flats of Uyuni would have been an incredible location to watch the sunset in Bolivia. The reflective whites of the salt flats would have displayed a spectrum of colours from the suns rays beautifully. Colours of fiery reds, orange, and soft yellows that would have been highlighted by the fluorescent outlines of the dry salt cracks, a pattern that detailed the land.

So it was with much surprise and disappointment that I discovered we were going instead to the antique train cemetery for the sunset.

The train graveyard was a dump, I mean, a ‘well rusted playground’ decoratively littered with many pretty plastic bags which had fused with the native arid shrubbery. The word ‘FUN’ could be thrown into the description.. as long as you’ve had your tetanus shot.

Imagination is easily utilised in a place like this, with plenty of landscape inspired scenes to role play.

Scene 1 – Role play hungry homeless person looking through empty antique rusty cans for food.

Scene 2 – Stand around an empty tin drum an imagine there’s fire burning in it while you make-believe warming your hands against the cold, singing ‘Cause if there’s one thing she don’t need it’s another hungry mouth to feed, in the ghetto…’ (Elvis classic)

Scene 3 – Lay down on the tracks and wait for the pretend train to come.

Scene 4 – Give up, accept you’re in a rustic dump, in the cold, in the fierce wind, and go wait in the car for what felt like the longest sunset in the world. Also try to ignore the pain coming from overloaded bladder.

I did all 4 scenes and the god-damn sun still hadn’t set.

20 minutes later, the sun started its slow descent. Yes, it was pretty, but lacking compared to some amazing sunsets I’ve witnessed.

Lauren – ‘Come on Tiara, you might as well take one picture’

T, reluctantly gets out of the car and hands the camera to Andy – ‘ ok, Andy, do you mind taking the photo for us?’ then stands in front of sunset with Bec and Lauren

Lauren – ‘How should we pose?’

T, after a long afternoon of hobo posing suggests without hesitation – ‘Like we’ve just won lotto!’.

Tiny dancer – Salar de Uyuni

Turmoil was bubbling as the Bolivian president threatened to increase the price of petrol by 70%(!) Some streets in Lapaz were already blocked off and we were informed that protests could get real ugly – so we got out of Lapaz quick smart and headed for the Salt Flats of Uyuni – the largest salt flats in the world at 10,582 square kilometers.

The salt flats were amazing an ran for as far as the eye could see, providing an excellent background for some creative photography that manipulated objects from tiny to large and visa versa. I got to get down with the Lonely Planet South America guide-book, kick a giant Fanta bottle, and have a teeny tiny Amanda do dancers pose on the palm of my hand!! Every little girls dream turned adult fantasy! (adult fantasy, not porn.)

You were given the creative freedom to design a scene with whatever props available, and even though these pictures could have been easily produced on the computer back home, it was the manual 4 hour effort to make the positioning just right that made the experience fun and memorable.

Unfortunately, creating an image of a tiny me swallowing a giant imodium pill, an image that represented an important part of my time in South America so far, proved to be too difficult an illusion to create in the salt flats of Uyuni.

I will need to pay tribute to my traveling ‘life jacket’ in some other way…