Our bus arrived in Uyuni at 4:30 in the morning, and we were rushed off the bus in a swarm of men and women trying to sell Salt Flat tours. Thanks to the fact that our bus was a fancy “cama” bus or bed bus, we slept decently and decided to start our tour that day. We followed a persuasive lady to her office after hearing “700 bolivianos” for a three-day tour, which is the equivalent of 100 American dollars. The couches in her office were occupied by three women and one man who were sleeping. We were told the tour wouldn’t start until 10:30am, so we lay down on the floor next to the other travelers. After about an hour of on and off sleep, we went for breakfast to pass the time. We walked around the freezing ghost town for a while before getting in the jeep with the four other German travelers. (I won’t even begin to tell names here because they were one, way too complicated, and two, they really only spoke German to each other so they will be irrelevant to my story.)
Our first stop was an old train cemetery. They were used to transport minerals, though we were not told what kind. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant made entirely of salt. My vegetarian meal consisted of two hard-boiled, but still running eggs.
We drove more in the vast whiteness of the land. At first, I thought it was weird that God could have put something here, and he just left a big empty space. In every direction was nothingness, but it wasn’t nothing… because how could nothing be so beautiful? The salt flats were like a dream to me. The more I looked at the flats, the more I was able to see God’s character in a new light.
I had seen mountains which proved His strength, and animals that proclaimed His creativity, and rivers that sung His name, but I think these things are too easily captured by the human mind. I needed to be unable to fit Him in my mind to really feel His omnipotence. The flats were just the ticket to this inability of comprehension.
Along with this experience came the most incredible sunset I have ever seen in my life. I know you might think I’m exaggerating here, but God was exaggerating the sky in a way that put me in tears. This otherworldly moment in the middle of the unbelievable Bolivian desert quickly sent me to my knees. Ignoring the below freezing temperature, and focusing on what can only be described as a miracle sky, I wept.
The salt from my eyes met the salt of the earth, and for a second, I forgot where I was. The Salt of the Earth then met my heart, and it didn’t matter where I was. So much so that I closed my eyes to abandon the sky, and focused them to Heaven instead.
How much more beautiful is He than all of creation.
Unfortunately, I cannot end my day here, as my darling Grace fell ill shortly after dinner. She had not felt well for a while, but we were both hoping it had passed.
She left the meal early, only eating some soup. I decided it would be good for her to drink some tea, bit as soon as I opened the door to our room, she was already over the trash can.
I went to the kitchen for towels when a kind guide offered his medical help. He checked her pulse, temperature, and stomach coming to the conclusion that she had an infection.
My Spanish 4 professor would have been very proud of me at this moment. I was able to use the medical interpretation lessons she had taught me last semester, as I translated between doctor and patient with ease.
Unfortunately, language skills do not heal stomach infections, and Grace did not get better that night. In fact, we considered driving her to a hospital. There were no cars driving back to Uyuni however, so the most we could do was pray, take some medicine, and go to sleep, hoping Grace would not have to leave the tour early.