As if we hadnt inhaled enough toxins down the mines, we decided to head next for Bolivia´s otherwordly south, which is a landscape as alien to life as you could possibly imagine.
It´s geological disneyland of dazzling salt pans which extend to the horizon, Martian deserts of red ash, cauldrons of boiling mud and irridescent lakes of every colour on account of the naturally occuring toxins that tint them: borax white, sulphurous yellow, rusty red, and copper sulphate blue. I was particualrly excited to get to the Laguna Verde, the green lake, which was a beautiful emerald colour that reminded me of the Caribbean. I would have gone for a quick dip if Javier, our guide, hadn´t warned me it was laced with arsenic. Safe to say, our swimming costumes stayed firmly in our backpacks!
If that is not toxic enough for you, how about the bubbling cauldrons of mud at which our guide ignored the massive KEEP AWAY signs and then lead us right up until we almost fell in?
We managed to stay 3 days out in the wilderness, driven around in a roomy Toyota Land Cruiser, and I would say that most of that time was spent trying to get our heads round just how beautiful the scenary was. What really did my head in was getting to a lake at nearly 4000m above sea level, with the peaks surrounding it dusted with snow, to find a flock of bright pink flamingos feeding on the micro-organisms in the water. Of all the things that could live up there, I think flamingos would have been the last on my list!
Crazy place, Bolivia.