Getting to know Rio Grande

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

After visiting the lithium plant I spend 3 days in Rio Grande where I had already been in 2010. I meet again Luis and his colleagues who are borax (a mineral and a component of many detergents, cosmetics etc.) workers. I had brought them some copies of the group photo I had taken the last time, and that kind of opened some doors for me. So the next 2 days I spent a lot of time with the workers, which allowed me to get closer to them and gain their trust. We had lunch and dinner together and I also hung out with them in their very basic accomodation which is nothing else than a room with some beds and no window, no electricity, not bathroom, no heating which in bolivain winter is really hard. The 7 seven guys are mostly between 18-30 years old, and being originally from La Paz it seemed to be hard for them to be away from their homes and families for several weeks before coming home for a week or so. Also, their work is physically challenging and more than one of them seemed to have pain in his back and knees at night, after 9-10 hours work, loading dozens of 50 kilo bags of minerals on trucks and train wagons.
Group photo with Luis and his workers. Remember that room?In this (new!) barrack they have one room for all of them.These 2 photos show my “accomodation” while I stayed in Rio Grande. This small village has no hotel or such thing, so after one night on the restaurants floor I finally stayed in the old medical centre of Rio Grande (next photo), thanks to a young dentist whom I met and how offered me this room. Thanks, Gualberto!Wednesday I wanted to take the bus back to Uyuni, actually during the day 2 buses passed through the village, but both were so crowded and full that there was no way for me and my luggage to get in. The bus looked like a japanese subway train during  rush hour,totally over-crowded. But as I was not in a hurry, I stayed one more night. The next day I could get to Uyuni with a jeep which was way more comfortable , faster and with a great views on the landscape as the driver took another route than the bus.

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