After a long, long three days of traveling through the Andes and the Salar, we arrived at a small office that belonged to our tour agency, Estrella del Sur. Everyone else from our tour was planning to go to Potosi and Sucre, but there were no buses going to those places that late in the day, so they were going to have to wait a day in Uyuni. We were also going to have to stay an unexpected day in Uyuni because we hadn’t reserved the bus to La Paz. There were multiple companies, but all of them only had between 2 to4 seats. Mom and Dad found this out on their expedition while the kids stayed and ate lunch in the tour office. Because we had no idea we would be staying in the small town Uyuni, we had nowhere to stay. Everyone else in our group went to a hostel with no heating. We couldn’t stand another night of no heat so dad went to go check out the only one in the book with heat, The Tonito Hotel, while the rest of us waited in the tour office for his return.
Dad returned unsuccessful: the Tonito Hotel wasn’t bad, he just couldn’t find it, but while he was out he checked all the other ones he passed. They were all lower than hostel level Dad said, and once again asked the lady at the desk in broken Spanish where the Tonito Hotel was. It wasn’t dad’s fault that he didn’t find the hotel, it was just that the first time the lady at the desk sent him to the Tonito Tours building, the same company as the hotel, just a block down the street the other way. Dad set out again with me and Kieran this time. We found it like 5 blocks from the tour office, and right next to the national guard base. It was really maybe 10 feet from all the marching, yelling, and singing national guards. It was the only place that looked like it would be warm enough for us. So we went back to the tour office and got our bags and made the trek to the hotel.
It was somewhere around 4 or 5. We had already eaten some food that our driver prepared for us, so we weren’t hungry. We just mostly hung out in our room and did school until dinner The dinner was pretty good and we had some pizza and garlic bread at the Minuteman Pizzeria, that according to the Rough Guide was the best food in town. It was inside the hotel we were staying so we could have it for dinner the next day right before the bus too! It turns out that the restaurant was owned by a Bolivian woman and an American man who had met in Boston and got married and opened up shop in La Paz, but with all the riots they decided to move to Uyuni with their 4 and 10 year old sons. Mom and Dad talked with the owner for a while and found out that she and her husband also owned the hotel.We finished eating and I went back to doing school. I thought Mom, Kieran, and Asher were still in the restaurant, but when Mom came back to the room alone I was confused. I asked Mom where the little kids were and she said that they were up in room 14 with the owners’ kids. I went upstairs and found them playing in the boys’ playroom. Kieran was playing PS2 alone, but he wasn’t trading off. I convinced him to let the kids play to and told him that the system wasn’t his to hog.The 10 year old put in another game called Tekken Tag that was two player so all of us could play and switch off. I was pretty bad because I hadn’t played in so long, but I slowly progressed until it was time for bed.
The next morning we woke up, had some breakfast at the restaurant, and did school until it was about time for lunch. We went downstairs to the restaurant but it was closed; it’s only open for dinner and breakfast. Dad and I went out to find some lunch. We found a crowded restaurant we thought we might try, and to our surprise sitting at one of the tables was about 2/3 of our group from the Salar tour. They were supposed to go that morning. Why were they still here? We went and asked them, and it turned out that the miners were striking blocking the roads to Sucre and Potosi. This worried us because it meant the road to La Paz might be blocked too We hurried and ordered our food and ran to the bus office. On the way we ran into someone from the hotel. She was a tour guide who comes to Bolivia with the big trucks parked outside the hotel. She told us that she heard that maybe there was a strike was blocking the road to La Paz, so we ran even faster, but of course it was siesta and the bus office was closed. There had been some people already waiting outside for it to open. We asked them about the strike and they knew nothing. So we went to go get our food. We payed the kids at the restaurant (it was run by an old woman and all the cooks and waiters and waitresses were kids). On the way back to the hotel we ran into the tour guide again. She said that the strikes were for sure. Dad knew that mom would be devastated since she had so much planned. We got to the hotel, and of course mom was crushed. The rest of the day she planned on what we should do.
_________ and Kris the 4 year old returned from their Grandma’s house while I was gone, and Dax, Kieran, and Asher were all already playing with them so I joined them. Later that day the bus called us and said that they were running the bus that night after all. We had dinner at the Minuteman again and tried some of their Death by Chocolate (a chocolate cake) and some really good cookies. We said good bye to our new friends and set out to the bus station with a bag of the excellent cookies. We got to the bus office to find a big crowd outside. We went to see what was going on. The riots had gotten stronger and all the rioters were very drunk so it was extremely dangerous. Some of the tourist still wanted to go but the driver was too scared, because sometimes the rioters pull the drivers out and beat them up. They told us we would have to wait two days to go. So we made the walk back to the hotel and luckily got the same room.
The next day we had breakfast and did some more school (Dax and I really have to get our stuff done). Mom and Dad went out to see if there was another bus that we could take but they didn’t find one. We did some internet and played some more Tekken. It wasn’t a very eventful day until the bus company called and said that they could make it through the roadblocks, so once again we got a huge bag of the cookies (this time a gift, thank you once again! : ~ ) ) and set out to the bus station. Once more there was a huge crowd at the office. Dad went inside and heard what they had to say. While he was inside a Peruvian tour guide came outside and told us what was really going on, while on the inside they were lying to everyone. The tour guide said that they were going to stop in a mining town called Oruro, and from there they would figure out what to do. Inside they said that we would make it all the way to La Paz by going around the strikes (like all the other bus companies were doing) or turn around and come back to Uyuni. Dad came out and we all got on the bus. Mom and I yelled at him not to go but he had heard the fake story and insisted for us to go. So we set out for a journey that wouldn’t end for 3 long miserable days.