November 25, 2005
After vegging out for a few days in Oruro, I was ready to move on to the Sajama National Park this morning. I had no trouble finding a bus to Patacamaya because it is on the way to La Paz, the biggest city in the country. The bus was roomy and comfy, and the ride was smooth over a paved road. If only every bus ride could be so nice.
I got to Patacamaya at 1:30 and immediately began looking for a bus to Sajama. I quickly learned that only minibuses (the big vans that are normally reserved for urban transport) went there. After asking around for awhile, I found a driver who was going to leave at 3:00. I had lunch and waited around for awhile. The town of Patacamaya consists of a few houses and bus terminals along the highway, so there was nothing else for me to do.
When 3:00 rolled around, I was ready to go, but there was only one problem: I was the only passenger on the bus. The driver wouldn't leave until he got at least fourteen passengers, so it looked like it would be a long day. We drove around town a few times, trying to find people to come along. Finally, the driver agreed to take detours to other towns near Sajama. Several people jumped aboard at that point, all of whom were going to the other towns, and we left.
The driver dropped off everyone else first before finally taking me to Sajama, so I didn't get there until after dark. The small town of maybe 100 residents located in the Sajama National Park didn't have electricity or running water, so I couldn't get a lay of the land until morning. Someone had to walk me to a place to stay, then to a place where I could get dinner because it was pitch black outside.
There were three other tourists eating dinner: Luise and Sanja from England, and Claudia from Italy. I hadn't seen any foreigners since leaving Uyuni almost a week ago. After eating dinner hanging out for awhile, I had a difficult time finding my way back to my room. The entire town was pitch black and I still hadn't seen what it looked like during daylight. I was told a story of a girl who was staying here at one point and froze to death because she couldn't find her way back, either. I don't know if it was true, but it scared me a little. I eventually figured out where I was and crawled into bed.