On Day One in Salar de Uyuni, we experienced a major shift in perception as we sped deep into the vast salt flats. There was white as far as the eye could see. The surface, formed of dried-up prehistoric lakes, was etched with hexagonal cells, much like honeycombs and the columns of Giant’s Causeway, evidence of nature’s fixed rules on order and economy. Elise had fun hopping up onto salt mounds that were ready for harvesting. Everything was dry – our hands, lips, the air, and the salt itself.
We stopped at a train cemetery where trains were abandoned in the 1940’s after the mining industry collapsed. As would not have been the case in the US, we were allowed to clamber all over the rusting structures.
For lunch, our guide brought us to a restaurant formed of blocks of salt. Even the chairs and tables were made of salt. Needless to say, there was no lack of table salt, lol.
Outside the restaurant, a sea of international flags were flapping madly in the strong wind. After traveling for so long in foreign lands, Elise found comfort in the familiar and ran to the American flag and hugged it.
Most astonishing was Isla Incahuasi, a cacti-covered island rising out of the salt flats, which played games with our sense of sea and land. Elise and I hiked its trails through caves and across scorched terrain.
The sky deepened into shades of gold and violet as night fell, a fitting end to a surreal day.