Our First Train in South America

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…So up we got at 1am ready to get our train at 1.30am. We had a total of 3 hours restless sleep as we knew we would be up again soon. I even slept in my clothes as I couldn’t bear the thought of revealing any skin at that time in the morning in a constantly bitterly cold Uyuni. So I just slipped on even more layers, packed the remainder of our bags and headed for the door. The kind hostel owner must have been used to these late night exits as he wasn’t surprised at all to see us on our way at this un-godly hour!

Being up at this time when its cold and miserable makes you feel a bit sorry for yourself and makes you think of all the people cosily wrapped up in their beds and this makes you feel even more self pity (if this is possible!) But then you get to the usally sleepy train station and it is literally buzzing with life and people. People mainly wrapped up in warm blankets, but also lots of soliders waiting to depart, all looking far to young to be wearing a military uniform and carrying a weapon. The majority of these kids still had acne and bum-fluff. Scary. And sad.

We bought the most expensive ticket, saying this, the ticket cost 175B’s which equates to about £17 there or about, for an 8hour train. After our experience of buying the cheapest ticket for Bolivian transport, we had learnt from that and figured we didn’t want a freezing 8 hour journey. I think we made the right decision as we had comfy enough seats, there was heating, yes, actual heat coming out from vents (this does exist!!) and we were offered blankets (just incase, we had bought our own on board, so we had double the warmth!) and offered pillows. We were in overnight transport heaven. The kind guard even turned off the lights, including that in the hallway, which again is a rarity.

All in all, we slept pretty well. The repetitive noises and motion of the train were relaxing and comforting, a real aid to sleeping and a welcome change from our last bumpy (to say the least) journey into Uyuni. We awoke with the sun at about 6am-ish and another kind guard came around with breakfast coupons. Adam went on a search and discover mission and returned very excitedly, “there’s an actual buffet carriage, lets go!”. He wasn’t wrong. We stepped back in time and were greeted by fancy-ish buffet carriage fully equipped with nailed down lamps and furniture and a steward carrying around scoulding drinks over rickety tracks and not spilling a drip on anyone. We happily drank our milky coffee and ate our dry biscuits before heading back to our seats ready for our arrival in Tupiza.

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As we kind of knew the lay of the land in Tupiza, after retrieving our bags we walked to the taxi/mini bus terminal to get some form of transport to the border. As it was so early, there were plenty of cars fighting, literally for our business. So much that one (very small) women had Adam by the arm and was effectively steering him towards her car. Now, I hate this sort of stuff; overly pushy people making too much unwanted bodily contact with you. Really bugs me. Either way, we got in a car and it left straight away and 2 hours later we were as close to the border as the car would take us. We walked the rest of the way, about 1km with our bags to the border. We were stamped out of Bolivia (bye bye Bolivia, for good this time!) and were stamped back into Argentina. We went through the slackest bag check ever, where their thinking goes, “your white, go on through” but never fail to check every inch of any Bolivians bag. Not the nicest procedure to see, where peoples belongings are literally hauled out for all and Sundry to see. Slightly humiliating.

We then walked the other 2km to the bus terminal on the Argentinean side in La Quicha. We bought 2 ridiculously expensive bus tickets (boy, are we guna miss Bolivian prices) and waited for the bus to leave. We were about to make the long journey to Salta. And 8 hours later, and stopping in every single little town/village/lay by possible, we arrived at our hostel in Salta.

After 3/4 days of constant travel, we can finally rest, crack open a Quilmes beer and heave a huge sigh of relief. We are here, we are in the 2nd to last country we will visit of our travels….not too sure how I feel about that…

1 thought on “Our First Train in South America

  1. Hello, Adam and Cheryl,
    I was looking for temporary work sites for you on facebook and I just know your travel blog. Congratulations. I love the idea and I will try to share my face with my other guests. Many people like to go through the places where you have been. I’ll be waiting for you here in Rio de Janeiro with tips on places to know, besides the traditional ones. If you can, send me one curriculum vite by email so I can get work opportunities for you here.
    Odette Boudet

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